FNE at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival: Industry Guests set a Record at Jihlava

By Cathy Meils

JIHLAVA: Over 400 industry guests filled the Czech town of Jihlava for the 14th edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (26-31 October 2010) and the 10th anniversary of the Institute of Documentary Film's packed schedule of events.

The emergence of Romanian documentary filmmaking was evident, with four films in competition. The festival's CEE competition section, Between the Seas, awarded its main prize to Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu from Romanian director Andrei Ujica.

"Regional filmmaking is changing," festival founder and director Marek Hovorka said in an interview with FNE. "There are more political and history films made for theatrical distribution. While Czech fiction films are made for Czech audiences, the Romanian situation is completely different. Romanian audiences are not attending their national films, so directors have open hands; there's no pressure on them to make something commercial."

New economic realities are creating shifts in documentary films, ad Hovorka pointed out. One effect was the addition of a section devoted to films on the topic of the economy. "I'm happy with our new section," he said. "There are so many films shot on this topic. Let's see what documentary filmmakers are thinking about it. We presented all sides."

Hovorka was quick to pick up some of the year's hottest documentaries, including Client Number 9, screening in Jihlava prior to its U.S. premiere.

The festival also added a section on reality TV, which Hovorka says "opens discussion." In fact, the bond between documentary filmmaking and TV was a current that flowed through the festival and industry events. With less of the traditional TV funding available for documentary films, both funders and filmmakers are having to look at new models. "But," Hovorka adds, "Festivals will be important to keep documentary film as art, not only commerce."

With the 15th anniversary of the festival arriving next year, Hovorka says he wants this year's festival to show Czech filmmakers what's possible in the realm of documentary filmmaking.

A complete list of prizes follows:

OPUS BONUM Best International Documentary Film Award: 48 (Portugal) by Susana de Sousa Dias

CZECH JOY Award for the best Czech documentary film: Coal in the Soul by Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník (www.ceskatelevize.cz)

Special mention to Klára Tasovská for Midnight

FASCINATIONS Best Experimental Documentary Film Award: Sounding Lines are Obsolete (d. John Price, Canada)

Audience Award: Earthlings, Who Are You Voting For? (Czech Republic) by Linda Jablonská and Inventura, org.

BEST CZECH DOCUMENTARY OF THE DECADE AWARD: Auto*Mat (2009) by Martin Mareček (www.bionaut.cz)

The Contribution to World Cinema Award went to the Czech legend of the documentary cinema Karel Vachek

The Doc Alliance Award presented by Jihlava IDFF, Visions du Réel Nyon, CPH:DOX Copenhagen, DOK Leipzig, Planete Doc Review Warsaw: The Arrivals (France) by Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard

RESPEKT award for best television and video reportage of the past year: David Vondráček, author of the film Zabíjení po česku produced by Czech Television (www.ceskatelevize.cz)