02-04-2020

Romanian Documentary Colective Named Best Film of One World 2020

Prague, 2 AprilAt five minutes to twelve… literally. That is precisely the time when the jurors made their final decisions regarding the winners of this year’s One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. Just after that, the festival had to be interrupted. Nonetheless, the awards will find their recipients despite the government-ordered restrictions. The festival organisers, working in collaboration with Mall TV, decided to arrange an online awards ceremony. The winners were announced on Thursday, 2 April. A recording of the live broadcast is available on the following website. But that’s not the end of the festival. According to Ondřej Kamenický, the festival’s director, “We had to interrupt the part of the festival held in Prague, and the regional festivals will not take place at all according to the original schedule. However, if the situation allows, we will try to organise the regional festivals this autumn.

Although the Prague part of the festival could not be completed as originally planned, during the first five days 14,199 spectators attended our afternoon and evening screenings. The school screenings were seen by 7,119 students and their teachers. A total of 104 films were screened and 14 virtual reality projects were presented. There were 98 post-screening discussions and 3 special discussions organised within the framework of the third year of the Talking Cinema programme. After the festival was interrupted, some of the documentaries moved to the online environment. Working in collaboration with the DAFilms.cz platform, we presented 15 documentaries, which were seen by more than 4,000 viewers. Additionally, the Get Your Audience! platform, which makes it possible to screen the festival films for the general public, is operational year-round.

The International Competition Jury

The International Jury awarded two prizes – one for Best Film and the second for Best Director. They had thirteen films to choose from, all of them excellent from the perspective of original style and presenting testimonies about the situation regarding human rights.

The jury for this year’s International Competition comprised producer Amy Shepherd from the British-based Think-Film Impact Production LTD, which draws attention to social and political issues, the Slovak director, film theorist, and next FAMU dean Andrea Slováková, and Truls Lie, a journalist and the editor-in-chief of the Norwegian monthly Ny Tid and the English-language on-line magazine Modern Times Review. 

The Best Film Award went to the Romanian documentary Collective (Romania, Luxembourg | 2019 | 109 min.), directed by Alexender Nanau. The film draws attention to the extensive corruption existing in the Romanian healthcare system, which led to the deaths of dozens of young people after a fire in the Colective club. In its justification for their decision, the jury wrote: “The film provides a unique view of the ongoing courageous work of a group of investigative journalists from a small publishing house and the actual impact of their work. The story of a new health minister, who tries to rectify the malfunctioning system from inside, draws attention to the importance of the battle against corrupt governments and structural injustices.Since the interruption of the festival, the film is available for viewing on the HBO GO platform

As far as the Best Director Award is concerned, the jury chose Thomas Balmès for his documentary Sing Me a Song (France, Germany, Switzerland | 2019 | 95 min.). This film shows the efforts of a young monk in Bhutan to maintain personal relationships during an era when modern technology has reached all of the corners of the world. The jury justified its decision by saying: “The director successfully made an intimate film, which captures the protagonists at even their most vulnerable moments, and for that, he deserves our admiration.” 

The Václav Havel Jury 

The Václav Havel Jury had the task of selecting the film from the Right To Know category which best contributes to the protection of human rights.

This year, the jury comprised the Azerbaijani journalist Arzu Geybulla, who focuses on digital authoritarianism and its impact on human rights and the freedom of the press in Azerbaijan, the Libyan journalist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker Heba Al-Shibani, and Amon Yiu Yeuk-wa, a member of the young Demosistō activist movement in Hong Kong. This year, Amon also gave a lecture as a part of the Talking Cinema programme. 

The winner in the Right To Know category was the film Welcome to Chechnya (directed by David France | USA | 2020 | 107 min.). To be gay is to bring shame onto the entire family – a situation which is hard for us to imagine in today’s Czech Republic. This documentary presents the stories of homosexuals who were forced to flee their homeland, as the Chechnyan security forces started to enforce an uncompromising bloody policy against them – arrest and physical punishment are the order of the day. In the reasoning for their decision, the jury write: “We have high hopes that this film will draw attention to the urgency of this situation, and maybe, with our help, the film’s protagonists will receive the support the need.

The Václav Havel Jury also awarded their special prize to the directors Jonas Schreijäg and Nadia Kailouli for their documentary Sea-Watch 3 (Germany, Italy | 2019 | 112 min.). The main protagonist – the ship’s captain Carola – saved more than forty refugees from drowning. However, they had to spend several weeks onboard the ship, because no European country would allow them to dock. The jury explains: “This is yet another film worthy of attention in today’s political climate, as it addresses the way in which the entire world overlooks the difficulties faced by migrants.

Czech Competition

The Czech Competition is one of the festival’s traditional categories. The jury responsible for choosing the best Czech documentary includes representatives from various international festivals. This year, it comprised the human rights activist, producer and director of the Karama Beirut Festival Haytham Chamass, the dramaturge of the international Hot Doc documentary film festival in Toronto Myrocia Watamaniuk, and Darko Nabakov, who is involved in the Makedox avant-garde festival of creative documentary. 

This year’s winner of the Czech Competition is the documentary Caught in the Net (Czech Republic | 2020 | 100 min.) made by the directors Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák. The jury particularly valued the theme of this film: “None of us are immune to the actions of predators, and this film, which shows in detail how firmly these mechanisms are embedded in our society, is the first step towards realising how vulnerable we actually are.” 

The jury also awarded its Special Prize, in this case to the documentary Town of Glory (Russia, Czech Republic, Germany | 2019 | 82 min.), for its daring criticism of political propaganda as well as for the eloquent way the situation is portrayed by the fascinating protagonists and the films talented director Dmitry Bogolyubov. The documentary was made as a co-production with the Czech Hypermarket Film production company. 

Regional Jury Award

The Regional Jury is made up of three representatives from the regional festivals. A juror cannot be from the ranks of the organising team, but someone who believes in One World and supports it. The winning film is added to the selection of documentaries included in the Promítej i ty! / Get Your Audience! project.

This year, the jury comprised Jana Dvořáková, who teaches Czech and history in Český Krumlov, Zdeněk Frehlich, who is involved in environmental protection in the Opava region, and Kristýna Voříšková from the Pilsen branch of the Czech Union of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who is also involved in the “Let’s Sign in School” project. 

The film that made the greatest impression on the jury was The Self Portrait (Norway | 2020 | 80 min.), made by the directing team of Espen Wallin, Margreth Olin, and Katja Hogseth. The documentary is a portrait of the photographer Lene Marie Fossen, who battled anorexia for more than twenty years. The disorder first became apparent when she was ten and stopped eating. She ultimately found enjoyment in photography, but living with an eating disorder is never simple.

Student Jury

The Student Jury is commissioned with choosing the best film from those selected specifically for students. It comprises secondary school students from the ranks of the organisers for the Student Film Clubs under the One World in Schools programme. This year, the jury comprised Anděla Kahounová, Ondřej Němec, a student at the grammar school in Tišnov who is trying to resuscitate the student parliament, and   Adéla Černá, who leads the Z5NA1 volunteer project in České Budějovice, within the context of which secondary school students tutor children from socially disadvantaged families

The Student Jury Prize was awarded to Mai Khoi & The Dissidents (directed by Joe Piscatella | USA |2019 | 70 min.), which presents the story of the Vietnamese dissident Mai Khoi. At first, she became a star of the music scene in her homeland thanks to her patriotic song. But, after her personal encounter with censorship, she decided to no longer support the regime, which, of course, displeased the government. The jury justified its selection as follows: “We were particularly impressed by this powerful story of a woman and learning more about the not so familiar theme of how freedom of speech is supressed in Vietnam.

East Doc Platform 

The 9th edition of East Doc Platform, organized by the Institute of Documentary Film, welcomed many industry professionals and filmmakers between March 7-13, 2020. Most of the programme took place at the Cervantes Institute in Prague. Some parts of the programme were moved online, while others had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.

East Doc Platform Award, powered by Current Time TV, has been given by the international jury to the Ukrainian director Olha Zhurba for her documentary project with the working title Roma. It got not only the main award for the best project in development, but also three more prizes. Other winners include How I Became a Partisan by Vera Lacková and Comfortable Century by Jaroslav Bláha.

To find out more about the prize-winning films and the juries, visit the  www.jedensvet.cz website.