The Czech Republic’s Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival kicks off tonight, Tuesday, October 27. It’s 19th edition includes 80 feature length documentaries screening through the wrap of the eclectic festival on Sunday, November 1. The following offers an overview, largely focusing on the event’s several competitions:
Among the more than dozen feature titles in the main competition, Opus Bonum, are: Gilad Baram’s KOUDELKA SHOOTING HOLY LAND (pictured), in which the celebrated Czech photographer documents the barriers erected between Israel and Palestine; Jenkoe Thomas’ MEMORIES FROM GEHENNA, which investigates the aftermath of a hate crime in a French suburb; Tommaso Cotronei’s COVERED WITH THE BLOOD OF JESUS, about poverty in the Niger River Delta; Jacques Perconte’s ETTRICK, an observational film about Scotland, as revealed through a local textile mill; James T Hong’s TERRA NULLIUS OR: HOW TO BE A NATIONALIST, which explores nationalist territorial disputes between China, Taiwan, and Japan; and Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni’s DISAPPEAR ONE, in which a theatre company attempts to reconstruct the disappearance of a former colleague.
Central and European docs are the focus of the Between the Seas competition, which includes: Arbo Tammiksaar and Jaak Kilmi’s CHRIST LIVES IN SIBERIA, about the community formed in Siberia by a would-be reincarnation of Christ; Oleg Mavromatti’s NO PLACE FOR FOOLS (pictured), a portrait of an intellectually disabled gay Russian who makes video blogs; Alexey Sukhovey’s GUESTS, a verité portrait of Tajikistani migrant loggers in remote Russia; Sami Mustafa’s TRAPPED BY LAW, about two Roma brothers who have been forcibly sent to Kosovo from their home in Germany; Vitaly Mansky’s UNDER THE SUN, which follows a North Korean family as their daughter is selected to participate in an elaborate spectacle; and Jasmin Hirtl’s YOU (PL) AND ME, which reveals a love story through a video diary.
National cinema is celebrated in the Czech Joy competition, with offerings like: Filip Remunda’s NEAR FAR EAST (pictured), an intimate look at present-day Ukraine; Jakub Wagner’s RINO, about an infamous Communist CIA infiltrator; Jan Gogola’s EXCURSION OR HISTORY OF THE PRESENT, which explores how individuals encounter history through popular tourist attractions; and Jan Šípek’s BUTTONS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, a consideration of science and one’s inner experience.
The festival also features several non-competitive strands, among them Czech Landscape, an exploration of the diversity of Jihlava’s national cinema, with work like Tomáš Kratochvíl’s look at Roma discrimination in public housing, DORMITORY; Al Akhbar, a focus on docs about Syria, such as Sean McAllister’s portrait of a family impacted by war, A SYRIAN LOVE STORY (pictured); hybrid-oriented Doc-fi, which includes Christine Reeh’s history of an abandoned Russian mining town, THE CHRONICLES OF POLYARIS; and Czech Television Docs, with recent work represented like Tomáš Kudrna’s exploration of a Roma boarding school instituted by the Czech army in the 1950s, BURIED LETTERS.