This year’s 20th annual One World film festival, held from 5 to 14 March in Prague, has its winners. The juries handed out a total of nine prizes in the categories of International Competition, Right to Know, and Czech Competition. The fourth jury was the Student Jury, which chose the best film from the festival’s collection of films for secondary schools. After each screening, viewers could also cast their votes for the documentary to be honoured with the Avast Foundation Audience Award.
One World showed 128 documentary films in Prague, including nine virtual reality projects. The films were screened in 15 categories – the traditional and familiar categories from past years were joined by several new additions this year. For instance, Americana presented documentaries about the USA. Viewers could thus watch films the followed the rise of Donald Trump to the head of the country, or the stories of young African Americans as they deal with difficult situations in life. The Eurodrome category focused on today’s burning issues in Europe such as populism, migration, and nationalism. Another new addition was One Zero, which explored the subject of human rights online and thus reflected the motto of this year’s festival: Updating the System.
Over the course of the festival’s first week, the afternoon and evening screenings were attended by 27,913 viewers. The school screenings were attended by more than 10,000 students and teachers. One World screenings will continue at schools until Thursday 15 March. The Prague stage of the festival concludes with screenings of the winning films on Wednesday 14 March, after which it will move to 36 other cities in the Czech Republic. The festival’s Get Your Audience! programme functions year-round, allowing anyone to legally screen the festival’s films for a wider audience.
The international jury chose a Best Film and a Best Director from a total of 12 films representing new ways of exploring the question of human rights in documentary film.
The Award for Best Film went to The Deminer by directors Hogir Hirori and Shinwar Kamal (Sweden / 2017 / 82 min.). The film’s main protagonist, Fakhir Berwari, is a legend in the Iraqi town of Dohuk who dedicated his life to getting rid of all kinds of explosives, even at great personal risk. “Compelling, innovative and passionate, our choice for best film is an exceptional force combining precious personal archives with contemporary scenes. This is not only a powerful story about war, but about family, memory and loss,” explains the jury in its official statement.
The Best Director Award went to Talal Derki, author of Of Fathers and Sons (Germany, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria / 2017 / 98 min.). Derki, who came to Prague to introduce the film in person, uses the camera to explore the actions of a man fighting for an Islamic caliphate and for his family. He has succeeded in creating a unique study of the Islamic radicalization of children.
The International Jury’s special mention goes to Laura Bari, director of Primas (Canada, Argentina / 2017/ 100 min.). The jury called Primas “a creative and vibrant voice in a remarkable and urgent film that compels us to look beyond victimhood to the beautiful and inspired ways in which girls and women can survive and thrive after experiencing sexual violence.”
The international competition jury consisted of film critic, media educator, and founder/programming director of Cinema Politica Ezra Winton, film director and CEO/Director of Sheffield Doc Fest Elizabeth McIntyre, and Iranian filmmaker and two-time winner at the Sundance Festival Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, whose films focus primarily on women who try to express their voice through art even though they lack formal education and their circumstances in life are hardly favourable to an artistic career.
VÁCLAV HAVEL JURY
The Václav Havel Jury chose from among the documentaries screened in the Right to Know section, and presents its award to films that make an exceptional contribution to the defence of human rights.
This year, the jury unanimously decided to present the main prize in the category of human rights to the film Watani – My Homeland by German director Marcel Mettelsiefen (Great Britain / 2017 / 76 min.). The film is a shocking eyewitness report on the life of the family of a commander in the Free Syrian Army in war-ravaged Aleppo.
In explaining its decision, the jury states, “This film demonstrates that in our world, every single person – and most of all, every child – deserves love and peace. We completely understand the feelings of the protagonists as we are compelled to ask ourselves: Would we be able to save our own family or our own country under similar circumstances?”
Special mention goes to The Venerable W. by director Barbet Schroeder (France, Switzerland / 2017 / 100 min.). The film was chosen primarily because it explores the current tragic situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar. “Nationalism and racism appeal to people's basest instincts. In an era of rising populism, this film is a warning to all of us. We cannot fight for our human rights by violating the human rights of others. We shouldn't blame a religion but those who abuse religion and power,” says the jury in its statement.
This year, the members of the Václav Havel Jury were: Vietnamese activist, singer and composer Mai Khoi, Tunisian journalist and blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, who was the first to report on the Arab Spring and was nominated for the Nobel Prize, Polish commentator and founder of the Świecka Szkoła (Secular School) campaign Leszek Jażdżewski, human rights activist and coordinator for the Coalition for Equality in Kyrgyzstan Aizath Shakieva, and lawyer and professor at the Centre for Human Rights at CURLA/UNAH university in Honduras Vanessa Siliezar.
This is the second year that the festival presented awards to the best Czech-produced documentaries. The jury chose from ten films, five of which had their premiere at the festival. This year’s jurors – representatives from international festivals – were: Romanian director and producer Ileana Stanculescu, German actor, filmmaker, and main advisor for the Berlin International Film Festival Wieland Speck, and Japanese producer and coordinator of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Haruka Hama.
The Czech Competition jury gave its award to Non-Parent by director Jana Počtová (CZ / 2017 / 83 min.). The stories of the film’s protagonists show the broad spectrum of possibilities for (non)parenthood – from a single woman who adopted twins to a couple that doesn’t want any children at all. “In a refreshingly direct, fast paced, young and equally adult way the film depicts the modern varieties of propagation and parenthood. Full of humour and with a passionate editing, the film unveils the daily life and intimate perspectives of a diverse range of protagonists,” states the jury in its decision.
Special mention went to the directing duo of Klára Tasovská and Lukáš Kokeš and their documentary Nothing Like Before (CZ, Slovakia / 2017 / 92 min.) about the life of four teenagers who are forced to grow up before they would like to, and must find their place in society.
The student jury chose the best film in the festival’s section of films for students. It is composed primarily of secondary school students who are organizers of One World in Schools student film clubs.
The Student Jury’s award went to the documentary Peace to You All by Slovak director Juraj Mravec (Slovakia / 2016 / 67 min.), which shows the lives of ordinary people in the midst of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. According to its official statement, the jury “chose a film we can relate to and which intrigues its audience with its authenticity and relevance to current events. We believe this documentary offers multiple perspectives and shows its subject matter in a complex yet easy-to-follow way.”
AVAST FOUNDATION AUDIENCE AWARD
The most sucessful film of One World Film Festival is the documentary City of Ghosts (USA / 2017 / 90 min.) by Matthew Heineman. City of Ghosts won the Audience Award, obtaining a 1,13 mark. This win confirms that war in Syria is still an ongoing topic of interest to the audiences. The film is a testimony of journalists Hamud and Hassan who are members of the activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. Despite the brutal repressions, the journalists publish the most up to date information about the war torn city. Their work has been awarded internationally numerous times. Film has been shown at Sundance 2017 and won the Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/fest, among others.
Slovak film When the War Comes by director Jan Gebert (Czech republic, Croatia / 2018 / 76 min.) has secured the second place with 1,14 mark. Audiences also favoured the film The Cleaners by Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block (Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Italy, USA / 2018 / 88 min.) which placed third.
Avast Foundation Audience Award will be announced alongside other Jury Awards at the closing ceremony of One World festival in the Lucerna cinema.
EAST DOC PLATFORM AWARDED THE BEST DOCUMENTARIES FROM CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
This year, the Institute for Documentary Film organised the seventh EAST DOC PLATFORM – the largest meeting of documentary filmmakers in Central and Eastern Europe. From 3 to 9 March, Prague hosted 350 film professionals from all over the world.
As part of East Doc Platform, nearly fifty works in progress were shown to several different juries, all vying for one of the awards with a total value of more than 35,000 euros. East Doc Platform’s Main Prize of 7,500 euros went to Polish-Estonian co-production The Last Relic by director Marianna Kaat, which looks at life in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
The Polish-German project Angels of Sinjar, Yazidis – 21st Century Genocide by director Hanna Polak (prod. Simone Baumann) caught the interest of two television stations. The film follows the life of three sisters trying to rescue their other sisters from ISIS captivity, and shows their strength and determination to be more than mere victims. The Czech Television co-production award valued at 150,000 Czech crowns and the HBO Europe Award valued at 2,000 euros will help the project’s further development. A jury of representatives from Current Time TV decided to support Russian filmmaker Ksenia Gapchenko and her film Holy Culture!, and also Belarusian director Liuba Ziamtsova and her work in progress The Place of Love. The Golden Funnel award went to Czech director Hana Nováková for her playful Amoosed! (prod. Kateřina Traburová).
The best short film project was Černobílá (Blackandwhite, dir. Zoe Eluned Aiano, Anna Benner, produced by Linda Dědková and Martin Hůlovec). Through an urban legend about a female sharpshooter during World War II and set against the backdrop of Czech-German relations, the film explores the perception of women’s roles during war and also looks at the concepts of heroism and revenge. The project received 20,000 dollars for its completion and also support from the Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then distribution platform.