One World Festival unveils competitive categories and new jingle

    Every year, One World Festival brings to cinemas dozens of films that address thought-provoking, societal themes. In light of current events, the demand for information on human rights violations is at an all-time high. One World responds to this with its new programme. In addition to its thematic film categories and works of fiction, the festival will also be offering its traditional competitive sections, opening up a wide range of current topics with films for the International Competition, Czech Competition, the Right to Know section, and the Immersive Films Competition. The twenty-sixth edition of One World International Human Rights Film Festival will unfold in 48 cities across the Czech Republic from 20 March to 21 April. In Prague, audiences can look forward to the festival from 20 to 28 March, which will be followed up with the Prague Echoes segment.

    This year's One World Festival is unveiling significant innovations and expansions for its audience. Alongside the inclusion of fictional films on human rights for the first time ever, the festival has also undergone a name and visual identity makeover, accompanied by the introduction of a new festival spot. Echoing the current visual aesthetic, the new annual festival spot also employs a circular motif, reminiscent of a searchlight or camera lens. Much like the films shown, this circular element in the spot serves to contextualise reality, offering deeper connections and highlighting seemingly hidden details.

    The festival will tackle pressing contemporary issues related to human rights violations, spanning personal freedoms, freedom of speech, media, relationships, and impenetrable structures of power. These themes will be explored not only within thematic categories but also in the competitive sections. The films will traditionally be grouped under the International Competition, Czech Competition, the Right to Know section, and, for the second year in a row, also in the competitive section for VR projects newly named the Immersive Films Competition.

    Aside from the film programme, One World has also planned a discussion and debate programme featuring guests from around the world as well as short films for children. This year, the festival can be attended by audiences in a record 48 cities, including Prague.

    Czech Competition: An age of solitude, the prison of history, and body shaming

    A personal account of economic inequality and modern forms of exploitation in Western Europe will be showcased in the Czech premiere of the documentary film Limits of Europe. Director Apolena Rychlíková tracks the journey of journalist Saša Uhlová, who, armed with a hidden camera, ventures to work abroad, becoming a symbol of cheap labour for her employers. How complex can a quest for stability become in a world plagued by destabilisation? Perhaps the answer lies within the time-lapse documentary Home Land, where director Širín Nafariehová intimately follows the stories of five young individuals from Russia and Ukraine and their efforts to integrate into Czech society. The festival will screen the film in its world premiere.

    The protagonists of director Dagmar Smržová's documentary The Body In My Head have been criticised and humiliated over their appearance since childhood. They now come together in a television studio to openly share their emotions and experiences related to body shaming and the scars on their bodies and souls that come from it. One World will present the worldwide premiere of this intimate documentary. Another deeply personal account is also featured in the film Is There Any Place For Me, Please?. Here, the main character navigates her recovery from an acid attack by a former partner, adjusts to a new life with impaired vision, and embarks on a journey to forge a new life path.

    Four films will celebrate their distribution premieres. Whenever “Prague Spring” is brought up, many recall Alexander Dubček as its symbol. Director Robert Kirchhoff’s film collage, All Men Become Brothers, dismantles the portrayal of the revered statesman and endeavours to reveal the individual concealed behind the legend. What recollections might linger within the confines of prison? The documentary The Prison of History, helmed by directors Jan Gogola Jr. and Matěj Hrudička, aims to provide some potential answers. They have chosen to revive the memory of the Uherské Hradiště prison by engaging with individuals across various generations whose lives were impacted by the institution.

    The film Havel Speaking, Can You Hear Me? will introduce viewers to previously unreleased footage from the last three years of Václav Havel's life. Director Petr Jančárek crafts a poignant portrayal of the aging former president, who always prioritised public interests over his own.

    In Notes from Eremocene, director Viera Čákanyová observes a disconnect between the world’s rapid advancement of revolutionary technologies and its persisting challenges such as democratic backsliding and the climate crisis. Through an experimental film that perceives the present as an era of solitude, she conveys a message to her future virtual self and upcoming generations.

    Director Marta Kovářová embarks on a journey to save the planet alongside her father, scientist Jiří Svoboda, in the whimsical global home essay, The World According to My Dad. As they tour international summits, the pair seek to understand each other in the process.

    A Danish monk, an invisible nation, and a camera in the heart of the Taliban

    The latest documentaries from around the globe will be shown to audiences in the International Competition. Among the featured films is The Monk, which tells the story of a renowned Danish scientist who made the bold decision to trade his career and family for a life of devotion to Buddhist meditation high atop a Sri Lankan mountain. Yet, as directors Mira Jargil and Christian Sønderby Jepsen delve deeper into what initially appears to be an idyllic rejection of Western society, a series of unexpected truths begin to unravel. The documentary will make its debut in Prague with both directors set to make an appearance.

    When the Taliban reclaimed power in Afghanistan back in 2021, foreign correspondent Ibrahim Na'shat managed to convince its leadership to permit filming. In Hollywoodgate, the camera shadows key figures within the radical movement as they endeavour to impose military dictatorship across the nation, deftly skating the edge between journalism and propaganda. Director Ibrahim Na'shat and producer Talal Derki will attend the festival to personally present the film. Films within the Right to Know section traditionally uncover cases of human rights violations and stories that demand attention. One such documentary hails from Taiwan, offering an intimate portrayal of President Tsai Ing-wen. Through Invisible Nation, director Vanessa Hope intimately captures the challenges faced by the  head of state as she champions democracy in Taiwan while confronting the looming threat of aggression from China. Director Caio Cavechini's Extremists.br offers a glimpse into the world of threats, propaganda, and political radicalisation of Brazilian right-wing extremism. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage in live  discussions with the director following the film’s screenings in Prague.

    Immersive Films: Enter the World of Virtual Reality

    Another integral part of the competition programme is the section dedicated to interactive virtual reality projects and 360° films, now rebranded as the Immersive Films Competition. This section will present viewers with a curated selection of projects that address human rights themes in a broader sense, transporting them to both distant and nearby worlds and offering fresh perspectives on reality itself.

    “The projects featured in this year's selection leverage immersive technology to bring characters’ personal perspectives closer to the audience and present viewpoints that may seem unimaginable in our everyday perception. They provide opportunities to experience the slowing down of reality and its deconstruction into micro-particles, thereby allowing us to gain deeper insights into the innerworkings of the human mind,” explains dramaturge Lea Petříková.

    One of the immersive films that visitors will be able to experience is Texada by Canadian duo Claire Sanford and Josephine Anderson. Audience members will be fully immersed in the mining environment of the eponymous island, witnessing both the industry’s gradual disappearance and the vibrant resurgence of minerals.

    Can virtual reality effectively raise awareness of violence against women? In the project Draw for Change: We exist, We resist, creator Mariana Cadenas collaborates with Mexican queer artist Maremoto to offer an immersive exploration of the challenging realities faced by women in Mexico today. Tranquil studio settings alternate with moments of peril, prompting viewers to take a stand against potential violence.