NYU Washington, DC and the Embassy of the Czech Republic presented the documentary series, Echoes of Ji.hlava.
The Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (JIDFF) is a celebration of creative documentary film and the largest event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. The festival pays tribute to courage and risk.
Carine Chichkowsky (Survinance)
The Idomeni refugee camp housed people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When the Greek police closed the camp, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods. Maria Kourkouta’s minimalist documentary not only observes these events but also presents carefully modeled static images that open up the space within and without the frame of view, and in the closing black-and-white sequence offers a poetic commentary. The result is a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms.
“This film is a call to welcome the refugees that cross the European borders, as well as the ghosts that return with them.”
99 min., 2016, France, Greece
Šimon Pánek (1967) is a former Czech student activist during the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and today the executive director of the humanitarian organization People in Need (Člověk v tísni), which he co-founded in 1992. People in Need (PIN) became the biggest non-governmental organisation in Central and Eastern Europe and works worldwide to mitigate the suffering of people in times of crisis. For its international and national effort, PIN has become highly respected in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Jan P. Muchow
Documentary filmmaker Petra Nesvačilová’s study of the famous “Berdych Gang” focuses on police officer Helena Kahnová, but she also interviews other actors in the case, including the accused and the convicted. The resulting film is a mosaic that says less about the case or its background than it does about the people who exist on the edge of the law, and about their thoughts and motivations.
Nesvačilová herself comes into contact with the criminal underworld and becomes an actor in her own film. She must decide whether it is safe to meet certain people, leading her to consider questions related to the essence of crime and of good and evil in general.
“I thought I was shooting a portrait of a brave police woman, but in the end I found myself in places that I had always been afraid of and that I only knew from the movies. The underworld. And now I see that this underworld is all around us – sometimes very, very close.”
Pavla Janoušková Kubečková
A chronicle of the FC Roma football club, whose members have to persuade the other - “gadjo” - teams in the third league to play against them, transforms into an excursion through the various types of everyday Czech xenophobia. The filmmakers’ inconspicuous, observational approach gives a voice to the charismatic coaches, who, with a healthy ironic worldview, comment on a society that gives them virtually no chance. The dialogue of the various protagonists is the most prominent feature of this stirring, yet hopeless sounding documentary. Racism proves to be absurd, often unintentionally comical, but often also chilling.
“Hitler doesn’t belong on the playing field.”
76 min., 2016, Czech Republic