Jihlava doc festival offering films online


    Films to be screened at the 11th International Festival of Documentary Films which opens today (Oct. 23) in Jihlava will be presented online for the first time via the Internet film portal Doc-Air.

    "We initiated Doc-Air to provide access to important documentary films, both contemporary and archival films - not only during the festival but yearly," Doc-Air director Nina Numankadic told FNE in an interview.

    Numankadic, who studied production at the Prague FAMU film school (www.famu.cz) and has worked with various festivals and co-productions, is familiar with the new technologies that can help gain access to docs that may not be candidates for cinema distribution.

    "We need to take advantage of new technologies and the distribution possibilities they provide," she said. "In this sense, Doc-Air figures as alternative distribution channel."

    Doc-Air, a Czech based film initiative, is the first and only portal for online distribution of documentary films in Central and Eastern Europe. It was launched in August 2006 by the Jihlava festival. During the first year, Doc-Air provided access to 150 documentary films from all over the world. Internationally renowned Czech documentary films as Beauty Exchange by Erika Hniková, Left, Right, Forward! by Linda Jablonská or Source by Martin Marecek are for disposal here.

    At this year's festival, 170 films, selected out of 1,500 entries, will be available for viewing online.

    The films in the Doc-Air arsenal are mostly personal, progressive or even provocative pieces. Many of them are film debuts but Doc-Air also presents films by renowned Czech directors such as Olga Sommerova and Helena Trestikova, whose film Marcela was among the most discussed after the fall of communism.

    Films are categorised according to genre (historical, archival, portrait, music, education) and subject matter. Films are selected by a Jihlava Festival Progamme Committee headed by director Marek Hovorka and programme director Petr Kubica.

    "We are happy to provide a broader audience form films normally watched [only] at film festivals," Numankadic said. "Doc-Air is, however, a selective portal, so if a filmmaker or producer sends his film to us we are not obliged to show it. It is important for us that the films selected meet our criteria."

    Doc-Air has two basic problems with online distribution: 50 percent of Czechs have none or limited experience with the Internet, and getting a licence for films from Eastern Europe can be difficult because of concerns over widespread film piracy. "We do not use DRM technology, but logo protection," Numankadic says.

    Doc-Air offers films in three quality stages: one file is for on line watching (streaming) and two files are for downloading in DivX quality or in higher DVD quality. Recorded DVD can be streamed or downloaded. Payment for film use is by credit card. The cost is about €1 for streaming to as much as €6 for original quality.

    Doc-Air is financially supported by the Czech Fund for the Development of Czech Cinema (www.mkcr.cz), Ministry of Culture (www.mkcr.cz) and International Visegrad Fund (www.visegradfund.org).