From September 2017 Ondrej Kamenicky became a new director of One World festival.
What is the focus of this year’s edition? Do you have a theme for the films selected in the festival this year?
Our overarching theme this year is “Updating the System”, which is a metaphor for watching documentaries and slowing down–thinking and taking the time to process the things that happen, and also place them in context–just like the system update that appears on your computer every time you don’t have time for it, but then it makes you slow down.
Within this theme, we have seven new categories. Eurodrom puts focus on current political and social topics in Central and Eastern Europe, especially on the rise of nationalism and populism. We have a category focused on America (Americana) in which we look at Donald Trump and at minorities in the United States. Beyond the Horizon is a more ethnographical category, about faraway places, the kind of places people don’t know much about. Long Live Life is about alternative lifestyles, and we have two more categories: Unearthed, focused on environmental issues, and One Zero looking at stories of people caught in digital networks.
Why did you choose these themes and categories?
Every year we introduce new categories that we find relevant for that year. And if in the very beginning One World approached subjects that were often not covered in the media, over the years we discovered that now there are topics that are discussed too much in the media and on social networks, and it’s necessary to place them in context. That’s also why we decided to choose the main theme “Updating the System” because the flow of information is getting faster and faster and there is not much time to discuss important issues properly. It’s necessary to mention that we do Q&A after almost every screening with filmmakers or experts. For us the discussion after the film is as equal as the film itself.
If you would have to describe the festival in five keywords that would describe what the festival is and what it means to you, what would those keywords be?
First of all we are not a red-carpet festival and having as many world premieres as possible is not our number-one priority. We are really open to everyone and perhaps the main keywords are inclusiveness and accessibility. We are committed to making films accessible to everyone and we bring films with special subtitles for deaf people. We make audio descriptions for some films so people that are blind can watch them too. We also organize special screenings for mothers with babies.
The concept is called “One World for all”, and our festival is the only festival I know about that tries to do this systematically. This is quite difficult, in terms of team capacity, acquiring skills and also financially speaking because accessibility means we need to prepare the films technically, and we have to think of how to promote them, for example with blind friendly and easy-to-read website.
I think that access to culture is one of our human rights. That’s why we think it’s natural to break as many barriers made by our society as possible. An integral part of the One World team are people from different communities–visually, hearing, or mentally impaired–who organise the festival.
What does the term “movie that matters” mean to you?
For me a movie that matters is a movie about an unusual topic, perhaps something not often or not openly discussed in society, and it’s usually about things I’ve never heard of before. To me a movie that matters is more than just a documentary. It has impact, and impact is an important topic for me. I often think of how films can change the world and of how they can change one’s opinions.
What are for you three documentary films everyone should see and why?
The first one should be The Distant Barking of Dogs (Simon Lereng Wilmont), which is a film about Ukraine and about a ten-year-old who grows up in Eastern Ukraine just a few hundred meters from the battle lines. It is one of the most impressive films I have ever seen. What I really like about it is that it has a different approach than other films about warzones, and I like films that tell a story from an unexpected perspective. In this case it’s the perspective of a ten-year-old boy, and the story is really touching.
The second film is A Woman Captured (Bernadett Tuza-Ritter). This is to me a movie that matters because it tells about slavery happening in the middle of Europe and I personally didn’t know such a thing exists. And it’s also a story really well told, and I appreciate the authenticity of the film.
The third film is one of the Czech films, Nothing Like Before (Klára Tasovská and Lukáš Kokeš). This film is important to me because it was shot nearby my hometown, at the border with Germany where the social-economic situation has been so complicated for decades, and it is one of the poorest parts of the Czech Republic. It’s about a group of young people almost graduating from high school. They try to solve everyday problems, and they have no idea what their future will be like, so they feel lost. This film has potential to win the Czech competition this year.
What is the standing of documentary films, compared to ten years ago, and also regarding your festival?
The most important change, I think, is that these documentaries are closer to cinema than they used to be. In Czech Republic ten years ago documentaries were more like TV programmes. Our festival takes place not only in Prague but in thirty-six other cities around the Czech Republic, and we can see more and more people wanting to see these films simply because they are good cinema.