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FNE at Ji.hlava IDFF 2019: Romania Takes Between the Seas Best Film Award Featured

Teach by Alex Brendea Teach by Alex Brendea

JIHLAVA: The 23rd Ji.hlava IDFF, which concludes on 29 October 2019, handed out a plethora of prizes at its award ceremony on 28 October. Romanian documentary Teach directed by Alex Brendea won the Best Film award in the CEE competition section Between the Seas, and the Romanian director Cristi Puiu, the sole juror of the Opus Bonum international competition section, gave the Best Film award to the film Fonja directed by the creative collective of Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky and Lina Zacher.

Ji.hlava IDFF still, quaintly, refers to itself as a documentary festival. A more appropriate way to categorise the festival would be to compare it to Edinburgh during the month of August, when an explosion of festivals takes over the city. Yes, there is a festival of documentary films in Jihlava, with multiple competition categories (see the list of films awarded in the line-up of categories below). There’s also, among the many programmes operating under the banner of Ji.hlava IDFF, something called “Festival Identity.” But this is a festival that defies “identity.”

Its ever-expanding mission included 29 categories within the programme section and another 12 categories of events in the accompanying industry section taking place within a six-day period. Feminism? There was an entire day of discussions devoted to that topic. Experimental filmmakers and presenters? There was a two-day conference for them. Philosophers are a dime a dozen at Jihlava, where their lectures/question-and-answer sessions draw hundreds of serious students of all ages. Legal issues. Coproducing. Marketing. Crowdfunding. Environmental sustainability. Podcasts. Film Schools. Concerts for children. Religion. Democracy. These are just a sampling of the range of mini-festivals/forums/conferences built around a theme, that were offered at Jihlava this year, with over 100 guests brought in for the festival’s signature Inspiration Forum alone. The festival invites a diverse group of thinkers and activists to inspire the legions of documentary filmmakers that have put Ji.hlava IDFF on the map. Surprisingly, with all the events taking place, plenty of film screenings manage to be sold out.

Festival director Marek Hovorka moderated a mid-festival panel discussion on the position of documentary films from Eastern Europe in festivals across Europe. A role model for improving those statistics is Hovorka himself, whose commitment drives the festival and who himself inspired 100 leading figures from politics to poetry to descend on this small Moravian city for an unconventional gathering of ideas within the convention of a documentary film festival.

Winning films of the 23rd Ji.hlava IDFF:

Opus Bonum

Best Film
Fonja (Germany, Madagascar)
Directed by Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky, Lina Zacher

Between the Seas

Best Film from Central and Eastern Europe
Teach (Romania)
Directed by Alex Brendea
Produced by Luna Film

Between the Seas Student Competition

Best Film
Live Could Be So Beautiful (Germany, Poland)
Directed by Angelika Herta and Filip Jacobson

Special Mention
Daily Manure (Czech Repubic)
Directed by Nikola Krutilova

First Lights

Best Debut Film
Aphasia (Belgium)
Directed by Jelena Juresa

Student Jury Award
Aphasia (Belgium)
Directed by Jelena Juresa

Czech Joy

Best Czech Film
Solo (Czech Republic, France, Argentina, Austria)
Directed by Artemio Benki
Produced by Artcam
Coproduced by Petit à Petit Production, Golden Girls Filmproduktion, Lomo Cine, Buen Destino
Supported by the Czech Film Fund, Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA, CNC Centre National du cinéma et de l'image animée Avance sur recettes, INCAA Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Bundeskanleramt Österrereich – Kunst und Kultur, Eurimages

Special Mention
Lost Coast (Czech Republic)
Directed by Jiri Zykmund
Produced by Endorfilm

Student Jury Award
Kings of Sumava (Ireland, Czech Republic)
Directed by Kris Kelly
Produced by Bionaut Films

Special Mention
Apparatgeist (Czech Republic)
Directed by Marie-Magdalena Kochová
Produced by FAMU


Best Experimental Film
Almost Unable to Think (China)
Directed by Haonan Mao

Best Czech Experimental Film
Moréna Rex (Czech Republic)
Directed by Marie Lukáčová

Special Mention
Abstract Horror (Czech Republic)
Directed by Franz Milec

Testimony on Nature
Best Film
Anthroocene: The Human Epoch (Canada)
Directed by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier

Testimony on Politics
Best Film
The Cave (Qatar, US, Germany, Syria, Denmark)
Directed by Feras Fayyad

Testimony on Knowledge
Best Film
The Other Side of Mars (Finland)
Directed by Minna Långström

Short Joy

Best Short Film
Shendy Wu: A Diary (Argentina)
Directed by Ingrid Pokropek

Audience Award
Two Roads (Czech Republic)
Directed by Radovan Sibrt
Produced by Pink Productions

Silver Eye Award

Best Feature Film from the East Silver Market
Transnistra (Belgium, Sweden, Denmark)
Directed by Anna Eborn

Special Mention
The Wind. A Documentary Thriller (Poland, Slovakia)
Directed by Michał Bielawski

Silver Eye Award
Best Short Film from the East Silver Market
Pripyat Piano (Czech Republic)
Directed by Eliska Cilkova

Special Mention
Waiting for a Miracle (Estonia)
Directed by Aljona Surzhikova

Best Audio Documentary
Matej (Czech Republic)
Directed by Tereza Rekova


OSCAR 2020


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