Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Immigration and memories of home are the two main themes of this year‘s edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Festival, says festival programmer Andrea Slovakova.

1. What is the focus of this year’s edition?

Andrea Slovakova

«One of the features of this year’s festival is the visual concept that is connected to the topic of memory and the connection of memory with immigration and the home. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Czechoslovakian Republic, and we want to reflect on these 100 years that have passed, while also making a strong statement about today‘s attitudes.»

«The attitude towards immigration is one of the big issues right now, and we want to show that at a certain point in our history, people from Czechoslovakia were also emigrating. One of our sections is called ‘Stranger is Looking for an Apartment’, and is devoted to the stories of people from former Czechoslovakia that emigrated during the last 100 years.»

«We’ve collected different documentaries and media material of these Czech immigrants arriving in different countries. Their stories and their adaptation to their new environment is the focus of this section. This is also connected to this year’s retrospective, which is devoted to the concept of home. We‘re looking at how this concept has been changing from the beginning of the 20thCentury until today in avant-garde cinema.»

  1. What else is new this year?

«We have a territorial focus on Lebanon, as we found out that cinema is blooming in this country. The films we chose tell very strong stories, with a strong stance on social and political problems. The filmmakers are using different hybrid and aesthetic strategies in order to build essayistic films.»

«Titles include Selim Mourad’s Linceul, Orwa Al Mokdad’s Resurrection and Ghassan Halwani’s Erased, __ Ascent of the Invisible.

«Authors do not limit their topics to their own national context, but find connections to different places.»

This year we also have an extensive program of films and installations in VR.»

«Last, we have a very special small section called ‘Ruthenia’. This was the most Eastern region of Czechoslovakia and is now divided between Ukraine, Poland and Hungary. It was a unique place, with Greek Catholic people that spoke Ukrainian, Russian or the Ruthenian language. The region was mainly agrarian, but politically it was seen as very important and the filmmakers shot several films there because of its beautiful wild nature.»

«For this section we‘ve collected films from the period of the first Czechoslovakian Republic that reflect the life and the social conditions of that time.»

  1. How did the documentary landscape change during the last decade?

«I see a change of direction towards more hybrid films – films that mix different strategies from different parts of cinema. Of course, that is not completely new. Even Nanook of the North (1922) – which is the first feature length documentary – is partly a reconstruction and partly staged. But the number of films that do this today is incomparable with any other period in documentary cinema.»

«Last, the amount of co-production films is rising – especially in Europe – and that impacts the amount of research behind a film (…) authors do not limit their topics to their own national context, but find connections to different places.»

Slovakova is a filmmaker and a publisher. Since 2008 she teaches history and methods in documentary and avant-garde cinema at Masaryk´s University in Brno.



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