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JIHLAVA 2021

Ji.hlava celebrates its 25th anniversary with 300 films

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- The environment and the relationship between humans and nature are in the spotlight of the upcoming edition of the Czech documentary gathering

Ji.hlava celebrates its 25th anniversary with 300 films
Lines by Barbora Sliepková

The Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival will be celebrating its 25th-anniversary edition from 26-31 October, with almost 300 films spread across a streamlined structure. “Over the 25 years of its existence, the Ji.hlava IDFF has confirmed its position as the leading European documentary festival, known for its trailblazing approach and innovative programme. Therefore, we have upgraded the competitions as well as the structure of the awards in order to highlight the complexity of documentary cinema,” explains festival director Marek Hovorka.

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The main Opus Bonum competition will welcome 15 films set to have their world and international premieres. Among them are Sebastian Mihăilescu’s collective portrait of contemporary Romanian youth, You Are Ceaușescu to Me; the Belgian audiovisual letter to an unborn child Letter to Nikola by Hara Kaminara; the Czech time-lapse film Out in Force by Martin Mareček, described as “a portrait of an intellectual at his wits’ end” while also reflecting on the changes in, and forms of, masculinity in the 21st century; and the feature-length debut by emerging Slovak director Barbora Sliepková, Lines (see the news).

Domestic movies will be competing in the separate Czech Joy section. The docudrama Eyewitness by Jiří Havelka, which the director calls “a documentary anatomy of mass murder for one monitor and 34 talking heads”, will be vying for the Best Czech Documentary Award alongside Vera Lacková’s personal film about historical memory How I Became a Partisan [+see also:
interview: Vera Lacková
film profile
]
, Petr Hátle’s portrait of an inclusive school that supports the integration of young migrants into Czech society, One-room School, and Zuzana Piussi’s latest investigative documentary project, Ordeal, reflecting on the long-term crisis in the Slovak justice system (previously known as In the Fog - see the news).

The Exprmntl.cz. competition for Czech experimental documentaries will showcase a selection in which “layered essayistic formats meet exploratory miniatures, and films by established filmmakers stand alongside the playful inventiveness of works by an emerging generation of experimental filmmakers, and even students of film and art schools”, as revealed by programmer Andrea Slováková.

Summing up the themes in this year’s selection, Hovorka states, “A distinct focus is on the environment, and the relationship between humans and nature. […] Across continents, filmmakers are dealing with these issues more and more often, following protests and court cases, and even observing the lives of animals. But the previous alarmist tone is now replaced by a motivation for action and positive activism.”

The non-competitive Constellations section will introduce a carefully curated selection of documentaries from the festival circuit, including Andrea Arnold’s time-lapse doc Cow [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
; Charlotte Gainsbourg’s directorial debut, Jane by Charlotte [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, a portrait of her mother; Marta Popivoda’s Landscapes of Resistance [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Marta Popivoda
film profile
]
; and Flore Vasseur’s documentary about teenagers who fight for human rights, the survival of the planet and freedom of expression, Bigger Than Us [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

The full programme of the 25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival is available here.

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