24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival to Go Virtual

The Czech Republic’s Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (IDFF) has announced its programme for 2020 edition, which will be running as a digital event this year from October 27th – November 8th. Title photo: 24th Ji.hlava IDFF official festival poster designed by Juraj Horváth. Credit: Vojtěch Šoula.

Czech Rep., Oct 26 (BD) – While the Ji.hlava IDFF had been ready to take place as an on-site physical event, the current epidemiological situation in the Czech Republic and anti-coronavirus measures now in force have thwarted those plans. From October 27th – November 8th, the largest Czech documentary festival will feature 85 international premieres, from a full line-up of 220 films programmed for this extraordinary, fully online 24th edition, broadcast via the DAFilms platform.

“Fifteen years ago, the same year as YouTube was launched, Ji.hlava IDFF founded the first VoD portal dedicated to documentaries. Today, DAFilms.com is one of the leading European VoD platforms,” says festival director Marek Hovorka, commenting on this year’s partnership with DAFilms.

“The uniqueness of this programme lies in the fact that apart from the over 220 films available to Czech viewers, we will offer more than 80 movies from Ji.hlava’s competitions to audiences worldwide, released as world or European premieres,” says Diana Tabakov, executive director of DAFilms.

In terms of the practicalities of the virtual festival, the entire program will be available online, geo-blocked to the territory of the Czech Republic. Viewers from outside the Czech Republic will have the chance to watch over 80 selected titles from the festival’s competition sections via DAFilms.com, for a fee of €2 to €4 per stream, between October 27th and November 8th.

Among the competition titles are “One Says No” by Chinese director Dayong Zha, about the desperate struggle of a man named Azhong to save his home from a brutal construction lobby. The director received the Fipresci award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg film festival for his first feature, “The High Life”, in 2010. Other titles highlighted by the festival include “Refugees Are Welcome Here” by Tomáš Rafa, about refugee camps in Berlin; and “Belonging” by Tea Lukač, focusing on the trauma of ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe.

Among the other announced titles, the Opus Bonum competition section will host the latest work by Slovakian director Viera Čakányová, “White on White”, as a world premiere. “White on White” is a video diary that the director kept while working on her film “FREM”. The section will also screen Chloé Galibert-Laîné’s “Forensickness”, a video essay about amateur social detectives on Reddit; “Rift Finfinnee”, in which director Daniel Kötter explores the landscape east of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa; and Liryc Dela Cruz’s “On Endings”.

“White on White” trailer. Credit: Mezinárodní festival dokumentárních filmů Ji.hlava via YouTube.

Promising works by emerging documentary makers are rounded up in the First Lights section, including Gabriel Babsi’s “Motherlands”, looking at the refugee crisis through the eyes of a smuggler; the observational documentary “A House”, revolving around an initiative helping young people with autism by director Judith Auffray; and Fernando Gómez-Luna’s film collage “Interregnum”. Central and Eastern European documentaries constitute the centrepiece of the Between the Seas section, with the Czech title “Between Us” by Dorota Proba, a comprehensive picture of contemporary love life; “Landscape Zero” by Bruno Pavić; Jani Sever’s “Antigone – How Dare We!”; and Andra Tarara’s “Us Against Us”.

“Landscape Zero” by Bruno Pavić. Photo credit: Ivan Perić courtesy of TK Ji.hlava.

The competition section for domestic films, Czech Joy, will introduce a non-traditional documentary portrait of a Slovakian singer in Jan Gogola’s “Eternal Jožo”, notorious Czech documentarian duo Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda will unveil their road documentary comedy “Once Upon a Time in Poland”, Ondřej Vavrečka will bring along his atypical philosophical essay “Personal Life of the Hole”, and the behind-the-scenes documentary on Jan Švankmajer’s last feature by Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha, “Athanor – The Alchemical Furnace”, will also be shown.

This year’s retrospective will be dedicated to 100 years of South Korean documentary, the special Black Cinema Matters section will “introduce a radical change in the perspective of the Afro-American narrative, which has not only long been dividing the American public, but is also bogged down with a lot of prejudice, ignorance and lack of empathy”, notes Marek Hovorka. 

The industry programme will also take place online, with events including the Emerging Producers workshop, Conference Fascinations on the distribution of experimental works, a presentation of new Czech documentaries, educational seminars, and the Ji.hlava Academy.

Industry accreditation is free of charge this year. The Institute of Documentary Film (IDF) will also organize an online version of the Silver Eye awards for films in the market.

The full line-up is available here.

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