23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
Orient and experiment
Section inspired by the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia includes films depicting Ruthenia in the years 1919 to 1939 when it formed a part of Czechoslovakia. “The area was considered the Czech “orient”. The films are made poetic, romanticised and full of adventure. Hills, mountains, endless forest, wooden churches, children playing, smiling beauties“, says Jaroslav Kratochvíl, the section’s programme, enumerating their specifics.
The audience will have the chance to see Song of Ruthenia (1937) by Jiří Weiss and Plicka’s Spring in Subcarpathian Ruthenia (1929). “The film contains scenes that are featured in Plicka’s most famous documentary, The Singing Earth, made four years later. For filmmakers, the journey to Ruthenia seemed as a trip back to the seventeenth century. The film also plays on the nationalist note and shows local development, for example the completion of the grammar school or the erection of a monument to Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk,” adds Kratochvíl.
The topic of Home also weaves through the retrospective of film experiments – experimental cinema being another staple of the festival programme. “We focus on works with a clear connection to reality. For many experimenters, the theme of home provides a powerful instrument: an object of representation as well as a probe into intimate and innermost topics,” explains Andrea Slováková, the programmer of Ji.hlava’s experimental section.
For the fourth time in a row, Conference Fascinations will take place as part of the festival programme. “Ji.hlava provides an opportunity for distributors and gallerists to get acquainted with older experimental and underground works from Eastern Europe, mainly from the communist past. This year’s edition will showcase films made in the Baltics,” says Slováková. The Conference’s guests will include French art theorist Charlène Dinhut from Centre Pompidou in Paris and curator of the Centre of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, Nicola Trezzi.