The Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival inspects the fine line between fiction and documentary
- The programme offers 300 films, 95 of which are screening as world premieres, accompanied by a retrospective of US Oscar-winning avant-garde filmmaker Shirley Clarke
The upcoming edition of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (25-30 October) will offer over 300 film titles in both its competitive and non-competitive sections, 95 of which will be shown as world premieres, with 33 movies set to bow internationally. “This year’s Ji.hlava will present almost 100 films as world premieres, and the programme also includes what is probably the first feature-length documentary film ever made, shot in the Philippines in 1913,” says festival director Marek Hovorka about this year’s highlight, which the gathering will present in the previously announced section entitled Transparent Landscape: The Philippines (see the news).
In addition to showing, as previously reported, films reflecting the timely topic of war, the festival will inspect the fine line between documentary and fiction films. “More and more docs nowadays are being made to resemble fiction films. Their protagonists move confidently and authentically in front of the camera, and the viewers become an integral part of their lives, even at their most lonesome and vulnerable moments. They are also very believable in the way they are shot, with a distinct visual style and a finely tuned rhythm,” notes Hovorka. “In the Czech competition, we could mention Veronika Lišková’s The Visitors [+see also:
film profile] and, in the international competition, the Belgian film Terra in Vista,” adds the festival director, also pointing out the documentary comedy The Adventures of Gigi the Law [+see also:
interview: Alessandro Comodin
film profile] by Italian director Alessandro Comodino.
Speaking of the borderline between fiction and documentary filmmaking, the festival will screen the latest cinematic diptych by Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl, Rimini [+see also:
interview: Ulrich Seidl
film profile] and Sparta [+see also:
film profile]. “Ethical issues related to festival programming have been emphasised by the controversy surrounding Sparta, the latest film by Seidl, who was accused by Der Spiegel of unethical and possibly even criminal behaviour towards child actors during filming,” says the festival director. “These situations are unacceptable to us, and it’s good that they are also covered by the media. However, we have decided to screen the film because Ji.hlava has already shown Seidl’s movies, known for their controversy, in the past, and the director himself held a master class at the gathering years ago. We don’t want to be hypocritical, but rather to create an opportunity to watch the film and continue the discussion about the ethical responsibilities of filmmakers. After all, this is far from the only such case in the film world, and a wider discussion and societal demands, in particular, can change entrenched stereotypes.” The festival will also host the first annual conference on ethics, focusing on power relations in documentary filmmaking.
In addition to introducing the ethical conference, Ji.hlava will inaugurate an Award for Best VR Work. The seventh VR showcase includes the first Czech VR film, Ondřej Moravec’s Darkening, about depression (see the news); a work where the audience can try out the role of a warplane pilot in 1945, Shadow by David Adler and Ole Bornedal; an opportunity to follow the migration of various animal species, in Lena Thiele, Sebastian Baurmann and Dirk Hoffmann’s MYRIAD.WHERE WE CONNECT.; and a chance to see the Cambodian genocide from the perspective of a survivor, in Victoria Bousis’ Stay Alive, My Son.
The festival is making the films from the Short Joy section available on demand, ahead of their world and international premieres, on the dafilms.com platform. “The cooperation between DAFilms and Ji.hlava is crucial for us, and this also applies to the Short Joy section, which we are presenting online and free of charge to audiences around the world. We are delighted to premiere films not only by up-and-coming filmmakers, but also by experienced documentarians who employ more innovative and radical forms of expression in the short-film format. For the audience, it is again a totally unique opportunity to watch and review online a whole slate of premiere titles,” said Diana Tabakov, executive director of DAFilms.
The 26th edition of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, which is also organising a retrospective of US Oscar-winning avant-garde filmmaker Shirley Clarke, takes place from 25-30 October, and the full line-up is available here.
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