Identity and the various forms it takes in the globalized world of the 21st century – this is the subject explored by this year’s One World film festival under the motto Safe Proximity. In addition to its traditional competitions and thematic categories, the festival program will thus also include two categories on the subject of searching for and defining one’s identity – both individual and on across society. “The protagonists of these films are either struggling to figure out where they belong, or they know it but find it difficult to understand their surroundings or society. Some of their stories take place on the other side of the planet, but thanks to film we learn that we have much in common,” says the festival’s programming director Ondřej Moravec. This year’s 21st One World film festival is held in Prague from 6 to 17 March and subsequently in another 35 cities throughout the Czech Republic.
One World opens with Gods of Molenbeek, which looks at the question of identity through the childhood of three inseparable friends from the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, which became infamous in the media as the home of Islamic radicals. Although they all come from radically different worlds, they go in search together for answers to questions related to Islam, Christianity, and belief in the true god. Their harmonic co-existence is disturbed by terrorist attacks that were prepared and planned in the neighborhood they call home. The film will be presented in person by director Reetta Huhtanen.
This year’s festival program is divided into a total of 14 categories – three competition categories and eight thematic ones, plus short films, virtual reality, and a special category for children, Docs for Kids. The International Competition presents documentary films characterized by an inimitable original approach that will vie for Best Film and Best Director awards. The experimental Reconstructing Utøya, which had its international premiere at this year’s Berlinale, uses survivor accounts in an attempt at recreating the 2011 attack on a Norwegian summer camp. For his film Sakawa, director Ben Asamoah traveled all the way to Ghana in order to document the local community’s unusual way of making a living – they use fraudulent emails and false identities to swindle rich Americans and Europeans out of money that they then use to financially support their own families. The tragic death of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, which shook the international community in the 1960s, remains shrouded in multiple conspiracy theories. In Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger and a Swedish private investigator set out in the footsteps of this case and attempt its reconstruction.
The competition category Right to Know calls attention to human rights violations and gives voice to leading activists from around the world. This year, the Václav Havel Jury will chose from twelve documentaries. Being shown in its international premiere is Novaya. This story of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta offers a one-of-a-kind look inside the work of this leading newspaper, which since 2000 has tragically lost six of its journalists. Está Todo Bien explores the current Venezuelan crisis. On Her Shoulders is a portrait of recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nadia Murad, who fights for the rights of the forgotten Yazidi. The importance of citizen journalists is made clear by Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World, which uses specific examples to show how this respected organization works. Using only readily accessible internet sources, Bellingcat’s members help to investigate cases such as the poisoning of agent Skripal or the bombing in Syria.
This year’s Czech Competition features a record number of world premieres – seven. The section includes two episodes from the documentary series Czech Journal: The first is Filip Remunda´s The Okamura Brothers, which takes an unconventional look at three very different brothers. The other film, Real(e)state – in which actors experience first-hand how the real estate market works – reflects the fact that lack of accessible housing is a pressing issue in the Czech Republic. The psychological portrait Another Chance is the story of marriage con-artist Mirek and his latest victim Monika, who is waiting for her betrothed to get out of jail. The protagonists of Never Stop are active seniors who show that one can live life to the fullest despite one’s age.
The question marks and exclamation points from this year’s visual design have made it into the names of several categories, where they symbolize tensions within society. The protagonists of the films in the category titled ??? want to be a part of society, but for some reason society refuses to accept them. They are trying to find their own identity, but often they run up against a lack of understanding from friends and family. For the subjects of A Punk Daydream, rebellion is symbolized by tattoos, which Indonesian society associates with criminals, and so the country’s punks must face being rejected by their own families. Also struggling with a lack of understanding – in this case, from his conservative grandmother – is the young Polish homosexual Rafał in the autobiographical film Unconditional Love. The Oscar-nominated Minding the Gap shows the difficult adolescence of three skateboarders from the Rust Belt of the American northeast.
For its part, the category titled !!! presents the stories of people and communities that are defending their certainties, and whose identity is defined by the where they live. In I’m New Here, immigrants from the Congo and other African countries try to realize their “Chinese dream” of affluence and a better life by doing business in one of the most repressive countries on earth. The films The Good Change: Poles Apart and Hungary 2018 – Behind the Scenes of Democracy depict the current situation in two countries where populism is on the rise, with an increased emphasis on national identity and an accompanying rise in political tensions. Meanwhile, A Northern Soul follows the untiring struggles of warehouse worker Steve as the tries to improve the lives of the people around him even though he himself is struggling to make ends meet.
One World Interactive presents eight virtual reality projects at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art offering new perspectives on historical events (Make Noise, Accused #2: Walter Sisulu, and Blindfold), manic or shamanic visions that cannot be depicted using traditional media (Manic VR, Awavena), and insight into the mind of a child still in the womb (Nowhere) or the mind of a person injured in an accident (Is Anna OK?).
The festival’s virtual reality partner is Alza.cz.
The protagonists of the films in Long Live Life follow their own path, and some even find new ways of living that have not yet caught on in society – such as the subjects of Village of Swimming Cows, who have decided to escape the stress of the big city in order to become one with nature. Good Neighbours shows the story of Ada and Vilma, who help lonely senior citizens by awakening within them a renewed lust for life. Punk Voyage follows the wild journey of a Finnish punk band from its appearance on the Eurovision Song Contest all the way to their final concert. Band member Pertti Kurikka has accepted our invitation to come to Prague, and moviegoers will be able to meet with him at several post-movie debates.
Being shown in the Panorama section are various films that have enjoyed success at other film festivals throughout the world. For instance, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, which movingly captures life in the American South and was nominated for an Oscar, is considered one of last year’s best films. In Island of the Hungry Ghosts, we follow the difficult fate of refugees stuck at a detention center on Australia’s Christmas Island. The film shows that the so-called “Australian model,” which has been presented as a positive example of how to handle the migrant crisis, is far from ideal. In Love, Scott, the protagonist’s life is changed overnight when an assault because of his sexual orientation leaves him in a wheelchair. Even in Western society, the acceptance of the LGBT community is not a certainty.
The films in the category One Zero take viewers into cyberspace to show us our lives can be affected by ones and zeros. The example of China’s YY website in People’s Republic of Desire shows that the internet makes it easy to achieve fame and success, but it comes at a cost. All Creatures Welcome takes us into the workings of the Chaos Computer Club – the largest hacker society in Europe.
In our traditional category Journeys to Freedom, we look at the situation in countries where People in Need is active or that are at the focus of its activities. Besides Cuba or the Philippines, the section presents documentaries that look at strong women. In Facing the Dragon, politician Nilofar and journalist Shakila have decided to fight for democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan even at the cost of their own family’s safety. And in Women with Gunpowder Earrings, Iraqi journalist Noor reports on the war against the Islamic State as she tries to find out why many locals support ISIS.
In the category Short and Accurate, One World presents two short documentary films. These include two films by the Guardian’s Latin American section – The Fight about the dramatic struggle for their rights by handicapped people in Bolivia, and Marielle and Monica from contemporary Brazil. Dancing with Le Pen follows the course of the presidential elections in France through the eyes of this controversial politician’s followers. The section is rounded out by two distinctive documentaries, Come and Take It and Swatted.
The category UnEarthed is dedicated to films with an environmental theme. The island nation of Kiribati must contend with the consequences of climate change, as entire villages disappear before its citizens’ eyes. In Anote’s Ark, the country’s former president does all he can to try to inform the international community of the fate of his country. When Lambs Become Lions delves into the ivory trade through the eyes of poachers as well as animal preservationists.
Retrospective: Matthew Heineman
Matthew Heineman is a well-respected American documentary filmmaker, the recipient of an Emmy and an Oscar nomination. His gonzo style, which more closely resembles fiction film, is also very naturalistic. As part of this retrospective, he will present not only his successful films Cartel Land (2015) and City of Ghosts (2017, winner of the 2018 One World Audience Award), but also his recent docu-series The Trade (2018), which looks at the production and distribution of heroin in Mexico and the United States.
As part of Talking Cinema, the festival presents five discussions with foreign experts on selected films from this year’s program: Dmitry Muratov, former editor-in-chief of one of Russia’s few independent dailies Novaya Gazeta, will be joined by Talila Lewis, a lawyer and activist for the rights of the hearing impaired in the United States, and Joshua Castellino, who is a longtime advocate for the global rights of minorities. Castellino is also the director of Minority Rights Group International, which works with Nadia Murad, the protagonist of On Her Shoulders. Appearing to discuss the current situation in Hungary will be Hungarian anthropologist and sociologist Kristóf Szombati, who has been studying the rising influence of the extreme right in his country. How to address climate change on the local level? Anote’s Ark calls attention to changes in climate that affect us all. Environmental lawyer Joanna Setzer will talk about how to address it on the local level.
All discussions are held at Cinema 35 and will feature simultaneous interpreting from English into Czech. Some of the discussions will also be translated into Czech sign language.
Films that change the world
Some documentaries don’t end when the credits have rolled. For some films, the filmmakers organize a campaign through which people can get involved; for others, the One World film festival has prepared accompanying events or has found Czech organizations that work with similar issues. For instance, Roll Red Roll uses the rape of a sixteen-year-old girl to show that society still fails to take seriously the subject of sexual violence and harassment.
Working together with the non-profit organization Konsent, we have organized a workshop titled How to Talk with Kids About Sex, which offers parents and anyone else interest advice on how to talk to children and young people about issues of sexuality. The film The Time of Forests looks at questions of forest management, and so Hnutí DUHA has put together the workshop What Next for Czech Forests?, where participants will learn more about the current situation in the Czech Republic and how they can help with reforestation.
East Doc Platform: Eastern Logic
The One World film festival and the Institute for Documentary Film join forces to organize East Doc Platform, the largest industry event for documentary filmmakers in Central and Eastern Europe. This year’s topic, Eastern Logic, will explore the region’s specific way of looking at the world, which may sometimes seem bizarre when seen from the outside but which often brings us strong stories and unreal situations. From 9 to 15 March, East Doc Platform will present a diverse program for film professionals and the general public, in English and for free. Come and see a joint lecture by and discussion with young but established filmmakers Marta Prus, Lukáš Kokeš, and Damian Nenadić, following a screening of their film Days of Madness, which will open a new season in the history of the alternative distribution platform KineDok. Also on the program is a masterclass with Christian Frei, director of the Sundance award-winning film Genesis 2.0, which is being screened in the section UnEarthing. Austrian artists’ collective gold extra will present its work combining documentary subjects with video games and virtual reality. The presentation Czech Docs… Coming Soon presents upcoming films by Karel Vachek, Martin Mareček, and Erika Hníková, as well as three Czech films premiering at One World. The international panel discussion Women in the Audiovisual Industry: Examples from Practice will look at the question of quotas and gender balance in festival programs. Also planned is a new presentation of five short documentaries in preparation, East Doc Shorts Pitch, and our traditional prestigious survey of the best upcoming films from Central and Eastern Europe, East Doc Forum, where accredited industry professionals and journalists can see 21 documentary projects and 3 documentary VR projects.
One World at Schools
Traditionally, the festival holds morning screenings for primary and secondary school students from around the country. For children aged 8 to 14, we have put together a series of short films; older students can look forward to selected medium-length films from the One World program. Each screening includes a discussion where young viewers learn more about the film’s subject and can express their views on the matter. There are also relaxed screenings and screenings for students with hearing impairments. On the weekends, parents and children can come to our children’s screening, which are usually followed by a thematic workshop or other accompanying program.
For some people, a ticket to the movies can take a bite out of their pocketbook. For them, we have come up with “suspended tickets.” Anyone who purchases or picks up a ticket at the One World information stand in the Lucerna building can purchase one extra ticket and leave it “suspended” for someone else – and anyone who for whatever reason cannot afford a ticket can pick up. If you want to help out, just stop by the Lucerna information stand for more information.
One World in numbers
A complete program and festival visuals are available at www.oneworld.cz
A list of guests is attached. Photographs and access to films are provided upon request.
Organizer:People in Need
Co-organizer:Ministry of CultureWith support from:Czech Film FundCity of PragueCreative Europe – Media ProgrammeAvast Endowment FundZátiší group
General media partner:Czech Television
Main media partner:Czech Radio
Thank you:Tibet Open House