Everyone wins at Jihalva Film Festival

Over 5000 visitors saw a selection of 327 films

The 22 edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival finished yesterday having broken previous attendance records. Over 5000 visitors saw an average of eight films each from a selection of 327 films. Festival Director Marek Hovorka said “I am happy that this year´s Ji.hlava has broken all its audience records. However, the energy, shared by both audience and authors, is even more important.”

This year’s 6 day Festival had a bigger off screen programme, at times threatening to outdo the film programme for popularity. This year an expanded, and more heavily promoted, Inspiration Forum held discussions in packed halls in the City Theatre. Themes covered included the future of journalism and the media, religion, the left, artificial intelligence, education. High profile guests included UK journalist John Tusa, and last year’s Czech presidential candidate Karel Schwartzenberg.

For the fifth year, Czech music journalist Pavel Klusák curated a music programme in the 16th century Church of the Holy Spirit. Amongst others David Toop and Lucie Štepánková performed improvised music in atmospheric surroundings. David was on the jury for the Between the Seas section, and Lucie DJ’d at the Festival Tent, a live music venue set in a local park. A full programme for children included making pinhole cameras and their own film programme. More children than journalists attended this year. New technology gave the opportunity for a new Virtual Reality Zone to be created, providing immersive experiences for users.

There were a few breaks with tradition, a red carpet led to the Dům kultury, known as DKO during the festival. This is where the opening and awards ceremonies took place, the latter broadcast on Czech TV, co-hosted by Slovak director and actress Tereza Nvotová, one of the ways that the festival celebrated the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia.

Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi selected Vacancy by Belgian director Alexandra Kandy Longuet as prize winner in the worldwide Opus Bonum competition.

Between the Seas, focussing on central and east European films was won by Timebox, by Romanian director Nora Agapi. This jury was led by American film philosopher Thomas Wartenberg.

Director Karel Žalud won the Czech Joy section, with his four hour film Enclosed World, previously a 4 part TV documentary looking at life in prison.

French director Jean-Luc Goddard was awarded the Achievement in World Cinema Award. Goddard also made this year’s Festival spot, screened before each screening, so probably the most watched film.

The Audience Award was won by Czech director Martin Páv with his film Vote for Keriba, filmed in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Some Festival visitors had time to explore Jihlava’s heritage, sometimes on walks between venues. The local tourism office is promoting the Vysočina region, of which Jihlava is capital, as a location for films.

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