One World festival starts March 6

Human rights film festival is in its 19th year and still growing

The One World Festival again presents documentaries on human rights. The festival, now in its 19th edition, will run from March 6 to 15 at several Prague cinemas including Lucerna, Světozor, the Municipal Library, Atlas, Ponrepo, Evald, Kino 35 and, for the first time, Bio Oko. Films from the festival will also play in 32 other Czech cities and towns plus Brussels.

Many filmmakers will come to introduce and discuss their films, and there will be a side program of events including a night bike ride. Also new for this year, the films will be made more accessible for the disabled including people with visual or hearing limitations.

In total, there are 121 documentaries in 15 thematic categories. The festival has 23 premieres including five world, 12 international, five European and one distribution premiere. The films will take audiences to 70 countries, and more than 120 foreign guests will come to the Prague festival. Some 119,387 people visited One World in 2016.

One theme this year is real stories of people affected by the Islamic State not only into Syria, Iraq and surrounding countries, but also Europe, where refugees are struggling against anti-immigrant rhetoric. The festival explores the issues from different points of view.

The festival opens with the film Good Postman set in a village on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, where refugees pass. The postman Ivan runs for mayor because he would like to move them into empty buildings and bring new life to the village. “The movie [has] truly beautiful camera and music. It is about all of us, about our conscience. It makes us ask whether we would help or not,” festival director Hana Kulhánková said in a press release.

A new feature this year is the Czech Competition category in which 12 Czech films compete. The festival wants to help Czech documentary films find their way to international festivals. The Czech Competition will present the world premiere of Epidemic of Freedom about the issue of vaccination. Other films in this category include Normal Autistic Film and the Slovak film Hole in the Head, which looks at the Roma Holocaust.

This new category joins two existing ones: the International Competition and Right to Know. In the former, documentaries will compete for best film and best director. This group included the new documentary To End a War about the negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. Also competing is the film Nowhere to Hide, about an Iraqi male nurse Nori who filmed his escape from the Islamic State. The Polish documentary Communion about a 14-year-old girl who take cares of her autistic younger brother is also scheduled.

The Václav Havel Jury will award films in the Right to Know category that make an exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights. The section will present the world premiere of Grab and Run, about the kidnapping of young women in Kyrgyzstan, as well as films dealing with Russia and New Guinea.

A new thematic category this year is Vote for Change! It will focus on the collapse of confidence in traditional political parties and all sorts of new movements that have germinated in the resulting power vacuum. Of particular interest to expats in Prague, the film Weiner follows disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner as he tries to relaunch his career with a bid for mayor of New York. He was caught sending pictures of his underwear to women over social media.

The Dreams of Europe category looks at refugees' dreams of a European paradise. This category presents the documentary I'm Okay, about the lives of two child refugees from Macedonia and Syria who try to find a new life in Germany. Also in this category is Fire at Sea, which won the Golden Bear at the 2016 Berlinale and was nominated for an Oscar.

The Family Happiness category includes Future Baby, which raises questions about ethical boundaries. The film Who's Gonna Love Me Now? documents the efforts of Saar, an HIV-positive gay man, to reconnect with his Orthodox Jewish family. Saar will introduce the film and additional screenings at Kino 35 will offer anonymous free HIV testing.

Like last year, the Who's Normal? category will challenge the traditional view of normality. The festival will present the world premiere of I'm Not Afraid, about a Dutch psychiatrist and his patient who opts for assisted suicide. The documentary A Young Girl in her Nineties look at dance therapy for Alzheimer's patients. Chilean director Maria Teresa Larraín will present her documentary Shadow Girl. During filming she gradually lost her eyesight due to a congenital defect.

The category Face of the City was created in collaboration with the reSITE architectural and urban planning platform. This category includes Abandoned Land, the debut film by director Gilles Laurent about the return of the population in the contaminated zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant. Laurent died last year in the bomb attacks in Brussels.

The traditional category Journeys to Freedom shows the situation in countries in which the civic organization People in Need currently operates or is planning to launch operations. The documentary When Will This Wind Stop? shows the situation of the Crimean Tatars after the Russian annexation of the Crimea. The film A Revolution in Four Seasons introduces the stories of two politically active women in Tunisia. Director Jessie Demeter will speak about documentary filmmaking and the status of women in the film industry at a festival masterclasses.

There are several side events. For the sixth time, the biggest event for filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, the East Doc Platform organized by the Institute of Documentary Film, will be held in Prague. Most of the events will be held from March 6 to 12 at the Cervantes Institute and the program in English will be available to the public.

Seven films selected in the One World Interactive category can be seen for free in Prague's Audience Center in the Lucerna Gallery using virtual reality goggles. Viewers will have the opportunity to tour a refugee detention facility in the UK or see what it's like to be incarcerated in solitary confinement.

An exhibition of images by blind photographers who appear in the film Shot in the Dark will be on display at the Lucerna Gallery, with audio description for the blind. The opening of the exhibit on Tuesday, March 7 at 7 pm will be attended by director Frank Amann and one of the protagonists, Bruce Hall. 

One World 2017

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