One World Festival presents its programme for 2022

    Two years ago, society was shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, which became the main topic on most media for quite a long time. This pushed many events that continue to stir the world of human rights into the background. The One World Festival decided to draw attention to this fact and chose “Journeys of Freedom” as this year’s theme. “The effort to promote human rights and help where it is needed using all possible (and even impossible) means is always difficult and does not bring results overnight. Quite to the contrary. While twenty years ago it seemed as if the fragmented world was slowly, but nevertheless surely, coming closer to a better unified world, today’s situation is far from any optimistic expectations. Nonetheless, through this year’s festival programme you will find stories of people who are tirelessly fighting for freedom and democracy, proving that active resistance to injustice has a purpose and will never go away no matter what happens,” says the festival’s director Ondřej Kamenický as he explains the festival’s theme.  This year, the festival is offering 80 documentaries and 6 virtual reality projects. Of course this includes internationally award-winning films that have been screened at prestigious festivals abroad. The twenty-fourth edition of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival will take place in twenty five towns throughout the Czech Republic from 21 March to 3 April. In Prague, filmgoers can look forward to the festival from 23 to 31 March.

    The festival will open with Polish director Kacper Lisowski’s Judges Under Pressure, which used the honest and courageous testimonies of the protagonists to show the current state of the Polish judicial system. The film captures the speed with which the journey of freedom of an independent judiciary can be influenced by the ruling party, as well as the consequences faced by those who oppose it. This documentary capturing the rapid fall of the independent judiciary in a country that is our neighbour and a member of the European Union is proof that freedom is something about which we can never be certain.

    This exceedingly current documentary will be introduced at the festival opening at the Prague Crossroads Centre by a delegation comprising not only the filmmakers but chiefly those who are facing the pressure portrayed in the film. One of them is the judge Igor Tuleya. Filmgoers can look forward to a discussion with the filmmakers and protagonists following the public screening of the film at the Lucerna Cinema or as a part of the Talking Cinema programme.

    The theme of this year’s festival, “Journeys of Freedom”, is also reflected in the main thematic category bearing the same name. The films in this category disclose the critical social upheavals that occur in countries with undemocratic regimes, and give a voice to the people who are forced to cope with them. In addition to the annual Journeys of Freedom category, the festival includes its three traditional competition sections – the International Competition, the Right to Know section, and the Czech Competition – as well as six other thematic categories.

    The International Competition presents the best of the world’s current documentary film production, bringing together important themes with exceptional formal handling. This year, there are ten films competing for the best film and best director awards. These include the captivatingly shot film Just Animals about the efforts of Saila, Kristo and Mai, who want to improve conditions on animal farms in Finland. Another fascinating story is Children of the Mist, tracking the struggle and emancipation of a young Vietnamese woman. The young Hmong woman in Vietnamese filmmaker Hà Lệ Diễm’s documentary refuses to submit to the traditional kidnapping of brides, which deprives local young women of the ability to decide about their own lives. Hanna Polak’s Angels of Sinjar, made as a co-production with Czech Television, captures the story of a Yazidi woman who tries to free her five sisters from Islamic State captivity. This theme which sounds like something from an adventure novel is unfortunately reality. The indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau did live detached from reality in Brazil until someone from the outside world first stepped into their territory in the 1980s. In his documentary The Territory, director Alex Pritz observes how logging, architecture, President Jair Bolsonaro, and eventually even COVID-19 influence and threaten the lives of one of the last indigenous tribes in Brazil.

    The films in the Right to Know competitive section traditionally expose cases of human rights violations that are usually not covered by the media. One of them is Be My Voice, Nahid Persson’s documentary about the Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, which catches the viewer off guard with the protagonist’s genuineness and her relentless battle against the requirement for Iranian women to wear a hijab. Just as surprising might be the film Choices/Voices, directed by Sara Dutch and Melanie Lyn, in which we are guided through the ins and outs of German law by women who wish to have an abortion in Germany. The fact is that abortion is illegal in our neighbouring country and women must contend with many degrading regulations. We will also encounter courageous women in director Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing’s documentary Midwives. The two protagonists live in the midst of an escalated ethnic conflict in western Myanmar. They work as midwives at a rural health centre but one is Buddhist, the other Muslim. Director Oeke Hoogendijk’s film The Treasures of Crimea demonstrates a link between a political conflict and museum exhibits. Where should an Amsterdam art museum send archaeological artefacts after an exhibition ends? To Russian-occupied Crimea or to Kyiv?

    There are ten entries in the Czech Competition. The film First-time Voters 2021 focuses on the youngest group of Czech voters. Several months before the election, director Markéta Ekrt set out to shoot her film amongst students from various schools and social classes. Who are they voting for and what criteria do they use to choose their candidates? Czech documentary filmmaker Martin Trabalík joined forces with Bolivian director Geraldine Zambrana Velez to make Incendios, a film about the fires that bring together volunteer firemen who are becoming insistent spokespersons against the global crisis. Tomáš Polenský’s War Veterans is also about battles, ones with weapons. It is about how Czech veterans who lose their purpose in life, become alienated from their families and society in general, and have to deal with existential difficulties on a daily basis after their return from a mission in Afghanistan. For many soldiers, a return to civilian life poses a greater challenge than war itself. The film René – The Prisoner of Freedom is a continuation of Helena Třeštíková’s longitudinal documentary about a former repeat offender, which follows René during the next thirteen years of his life after his release from prison.


    One of the new categories this year is To Care and Protect. It introduces films associated with mental health and institutional care. Aude Pépin’s documentary Sheroes captures Chantal Birman during her last days as an assistant helping women who have just given birth. This unique observational documentary reflects an excerpt from a very fragile time in a woman’s life which is only rarely seen on a film screen. The film Jason will enjoy its European première at this year’s festival – it tells the story of a young man just entering adulthood, who until recently was a young woman named Latoya, as he recovers from the deep trauma and sexual abuse he suffered as a child. In this exceptionally intimate documentary made by Maasja Ooms, he tries to overcome his past and heal his soul. The festival will screen Hélène Magny’s Unspoken Tears in its exclusive world première. The protagonist Garine, Armenian by birth, survived the Lebanese Civil War. She has dedicated her adult life to helping children from crisis regions cope with their traumas so that they can integrate into Canadian society.

    The second new category is Future Calling , which focuses on what our lives might look like in the near future. Canadian director Shannon Walsh’s The Gig Is Up takes a close look at today’s gig economy. An Uber driver in the US, a food delivery bike rider in China, and a handyman in the UK – despite their differences they share one thing: their work life is ruled by mobile apps. While platforms such as Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo are getting richer, their workers often just scrape by. What would it be like if women ruled the world? Would conflicts be resolved more easily? Would peace prevail rather than war? Could women deal with the threat of nuclear war better than men? Yael Bartana tries to answer these questions in the documentary Two Minutes to Midnight. In contrast, the documentary Searchers, directed by Pacho Velez, is a more laidback narrative about what is at times a futile effort to find a kindred spirit on online dating sites.


    As in the past, this year’s UnEarthed section offers a selection of many themes that are associated with ecology, the environment, and sustainable life. In his documentary The North Drift, director Steffen Krones decides to track the path followed by plastic waste from continental Europe to the cliffs of the Norwegian Lofoten archipelago. Liang Zhao’s film I’m So Sorry presents scenic images from areas such as Fukushima in Japan, or the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Together they compose a lyrical mosaic about the other side of nuclear energy, and reveal the thin line between progress and self-destruction on which the human race balances. It is this self-destruction that young students battle against in Danish director Phie Ambo’s film 70/30. In 2019, student activists in Denmark succeeded in making climate change the main theme of that country’s parliamentary elections. The country subsequently presented one of the most ambitious climate plans in the world: legislation that should ensure a 70% reduction in emissions by 2030.

    Once again the popular Panorama category, comprising the biggest hits of the past season, offers a diverse range of themes. Daniel Sager’s documentary Behind The Headlines follows German investigative journalists from the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, who rank amongst the world’s best. How do their articles that keep the powerful awake at night originate? The protagonists will answer this question themselves in the post-screening discussions and as a part of the Talking Cinema programme. The film No Hero At All, directed by Michał Kawecki, follows one of the most promising stars amongst Poland’s Alpine skiers with disabilities, but also a thief who steals scooters and has problematic family relations – this all describes Michał, the unusual hero of a candid story about the difficulties of life and overcoming obstacles. The students at a Catholic school in Belfast, N. Ireland, must also overcome obstacles. The school’s headmaster helps them to do this in Young Plato, a film directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin and Declan McGrath. He hopes to achieve this through a progressive approach to teaching and uses philosophy to show his students how they can come to terms with the country’s complicated past as well as with their own coming of age.


    Many of the films being screened at this year’s festival boast a number of European and international awards. Director Jonas P. Rasmussen’s emotion-filled film Flee received three Oscar nominations. This unusual animated documentary tells of the hardship-filled journey of an Afghan gay man to Europe. An intimate view of one family’s tale, it’s also something of a universal refugee story. Another example it the captivatingly filmed A House Made of Splinters. The war in Eastern Ukraine has divided families. Children whose families are either unable to, or do not want to, care for them in this situation are now waiting for a decision about their future fate in an institution close to the battle line. Simon L. Wilmont received the award for best director for this film at this year’s Sundance. Francesco Montagner’s film Brotherhood received the Golden Leopard award at the international Locarno Film Festival. The film tells the story of three brothers, whose father, a Muslim preacher, is sentenced to two years imprisonment. This provides his three sons with their first opportunity to live life according to their own ideas. In his film Four Journeys, director Louis Hothothot tells the story of his own family. He was an illegal child, meaning a child born at the time that China still enforced a one-child policy. This debut film of the Chinese director opened the IDFA: International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. He received five nominations for awards at this prestigious festival, including the awards for best Dutch film, best director, and outstanding artistic contribution. 


    For the most daring who would like to have a taste of new virtual landscapes, One World has prepared a selection of virtual reality projects that will literally draw the viewer into the film. They include the possibility of becoming immersed in the human body itself during a 3D flight through the nooks and crannies of the human mind, or trying out an interactive gem filled with games from the 1990s narrated by Tilda Swinton. Find out for yourself about both the healing and the destructive effects that virtual life has on mental health in Goliath: Playing With Reality. Set out into the depths of the human body, which is linked to nature by firm threads, in a dizzying ride with breath-taking computer animation in the project Strands of Mind. This year’s virtual reality section is located in the Prague City Library on Mariánské náměstí in Prague. It will be open every day from 24 to 31 March.


    • Advance ticket sales start online on Wednesday, 2 March. Starting on 23 March, tickets will be available at the cinema box offices. All tickets are CZK 130.
    • People with a ZTP or a ZTP/P disability card, and all viewers over the age of 65 will receive a 50% discount.
    • In the case of ZTP/P disability card holders, entrance for their companion is free.
    • This year we are offering direct ticket sales at the information booth in the Lucerna Arcade. Tickets for all cinemas and all screenings will be available. The tickets will subsequently be issued in printed form.
    • You will find the Press Centre, where we will be issuing press accreditations during the festival, on the 1st floor of the Langhans – People in Need Centre located at Vodičkova 37, Prague 1. It will be open from 23 to 31 March from 10 am to 8 pm.
    • Two information booths will be open during the entire festival: the first in the Lucerna Arcade and the second in the foyer of the Prague Municipal Library. Here you will be able to obtain complete information about the festival. Festival merchandise will also be on sale at the information booth, and will also be available in One Worlds e-shop.

    Organiser: People in Need 
    Co-Organiser: Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic
    General Partner: Abakus Foundation
    Major Supporters:
    City of Prague
    State Cinematography Fund
    Creative Europe – Media Programme
    Wildling Shoes
    European Parliament
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
    A Better School for All / Lepší škola pro všechny
    Technical and VR Partner: Alza
    Online partner: Prozeta
    Honorary Partner: LMC
    General Media Partner: Czech Television
    Main Media Partner: Czech Radio