One World brings an Oscar winner and a new Havel doc to Prague

Opening this week, the 26th edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival, One World, also debuts a virtual reality section. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.03.2024 15:31:00 (updated on 19.03.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

Amidst the global clamor for justice, human rights, and societal transformation, the curtain rises this week for the 26th edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival, One World.

Taking place from March 20 to April 21 and spanning cities throughout the Czech Republic, organizers say the festival’s ethos reverberates with urgency as it tackles themes ranging from climate change and freedom of speech to justice, identities, and relationships.

Running in Prague through March 28, the program highlights dozens of stories focused on human rights and their violations, along with the courageous acts of individuals, offering a platform for 96 feature films, 10 virtual reality projects, and a host of engaging debates.

As part of the accompanying program, several expert debates on films will be conducted in English; many of the films will feature simultaneous English and Czech subtitles. The festival takes place at multiple independent cinemas throughout Prague and the Municipal Library. For a complete program, see here.

Poignant premieres

One World kicks off in Prague on March 20 at Kino Lucerna with the premiere of the emotionally charged Terrestrial Verses by directors Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami, which follows everyday people as they navigate the cultural, religious, and institutional constraints imposed on them by various Iranian authorities, from school teachers to bureaucrats.

The Oscar-nominated documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, also screening at Kino Lucerna on opening day offers insights into war journalism and the plight of ordinary people in conflict zones. Director Mstyslav Černov, alongside the journalist team from the AP news agency, received the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the besieged city.

Local audiences will be interested in the Czech premiere of Havel Speaking, Can You Hear Me? featuring previously unpublished footage from the last three years of Václav Havel’s life in a personal portrait of the aging ex-president, who always put public interests above his own.

Competition sections feature docs from around the world

The International Competition will showcase the latest documentaries from around the world. Venezuela: Country of Lost Children by directors Juan Camilo Cruz and Marc Wiese follows two single women navigating survival in a country beset by hunger, violence, and poverty. In A New Kind of Wilderness, director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen explores the challenges faced by a family living in a remote Norwegian forest forced to confront modern society’s demands after a tragic loss.

The Right to Know section exposes human rights violations. Tack, directed by Vania Turner, depicts the life-altering journey of an Olympic yachtswoman who ignites the #MeToo movement in Greece after accusing a high-ranking sports official of rape. Beyond Utopia, directed by Madeleine Gavin, chronicles the experiences of refugees attempting to flee North Korea and the pastor aiding their escape. The Accidental President is a portrait of Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who will be in Prague to attend the screening.

Venturing into the realm of virtual reality, One World presents an Immersive Experiences section this year. Films include Remember this Place: 31°20′46″N 34°46′46″E which amplifies the voices of Bedouin women striving to preserve their culture amidst conflict and Floating with Spirits which transports viewers into the mystical realm of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, blurring the boundaries between the living and the departed.

See winners from Cannes, Toronto

The On the Edge of Maturity category explores the transitional phase between childhood and adulthood. In the feature film Monster, Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda navigates moral ambiguity through the story of a student and a teacher. The film, which received the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival, challenges clear-cut moral judgments when facts are murky.

Offering a different perspective on adolescence, director Canadian director Jen Markowitz’s Summer Qamp documentary follows queer, trans, and non-binary teens at a rural summer camp for teenagers in Alberta, Canada.

The One World Festival has screened documentaries nationwide since 1999. With international guests and inclusive initiatives, it’s one of the world’s largest such festivals. It runs from March 20-28 in Prague.

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