If you’re Estonian, then it’s a great time to be a docmaker, as evidenced by the ongoing acclaim for Anna Hints’ Smoke, Sauna, Sisterhood. Another top Estonian is Liis Nimik, whose Sundial (which she also directed) was selected for the Hot Docs Changing Face of Europe programme in April 2023 and who, this week, has been enjoying the attentions of the international doc community as one of this year’s Emerging Producer cohort this year.
In French director Clément Deneux’s project, the renowned Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase explores self-acceptance through a bicycle trip love story. “The real-time animated piece that maximizes the medium's potential, offering viewers full freedom of movement and a sense of story participation in a documentary about a feature film that was never produced,” the jury said.
The story of ageing Romanian Constantin Reliu is complex, fascinating and, indeed, cautionary. A man with no documents, personal or pension rights, he worked in Turkey for 25 years and after being deported returns to his homeland only to find that he was presumed dead and has to face up to a system that refuses to formally recognise that he is actually alive.
The imposed necessity of the nomadic lifestyle for many seniors (especially female) in the US is examined in Belgian filmmaker Sebastien Wielemans’ film Nomad Solitude, which follows three ageing women whose house on four wheels is the only economically affordable option facing them.
A clever balance between magical realism and formal fly-on-the-wall documentary, Ivan Ostrochovský and Pavol Pekarčík’s striking Photophobia is an examination of life within Ukraine’s Kharkiv metro, where men, women and children live a strange underground existence as they escape the bombardment of the city.
The new short film, directed by Dutch filmmakers Jefta Varwijk and Jaap van Heusden, focuses on paramedic Louis who recounts a series of horrific and traumatic events experienced in the line of duty over the course of 23 years. It is a film that demonstrates more graphically than most how, once seen, some things just cannot be unseen. “These are images that are etched into their retinas or etched into their souls,” Varwijk tells Business Doc Europe.
Ji.hlava Industry (Oct 25-29) is gearing up for another four days of pitching, networking and deal-making as 1300 professionals descend upon on the historic Czech town. “We want to be the melting pot for people from across the whole of Europe - north, south, east and west,” says Jarmila Outratová, Head of Industry. Not to mention the cohort of US producers who once again will present their new doc projects during the Ji.hlava’s New Visions Forum.
Czech filmmaker Petr Jančárek is not apologetic about his huge admiration for former President Václav Havel (1936-2011), the subject of his new feature documentary, Havel Speaking, Can You Hear Me?, which opens this year’s Ji.hlava IDFF. “It’s actually true that Havel is perceived differently abroad than at home. Czech society is quite sharply divided between his admirers and those who actually hate him - literally,” the director tells BDE.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Kyrgyzstan’s vast plains, Janyl Jusupjan’s ironically titled feature doc follows the enterprising and warm-hearted Atirkül as she attempts to carve a place for herself in the intensely masculine traditional team sport of buzkashi, in which horse-riders battle to steal the trophy - in the form of a dead goat - from the rival team of riders, all the time on horseback.
With 357 films across 7 competitive and 11 non-competitive sections, the Ji.hlava programme is particularly intense in 2023, chock full of doc from emerging and established makers alike, and presented to a highly cinephile Czech audience. “We don't think that daring and personal films ignore audiences. Quite the opposite. Documentary film has long been the most diverse and vibrant part of the audiovisual landscape, and interest in it continues to grow,” says festival director Marek Hovorka.
12Page 1 of 2