One World festival brings timely documentaries to 25 Czech cities

The festival was planned before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has many films addressing the fragility of freedom.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 16.03.2022 16:22:00 (updated on 16.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival runs in Prague from March 23 to 31 at seven cinemas: Lucerna, Světozor, Bio Oko, Evald, Ponrepo, Atlas, and the Municipal Library.

The theme of this year’s edition is Journeys of Freedom, and films will focus on reminding people how fragile freedom and democracy are. When the organizers were planning the festival, they had no idea that Vladimir Putin was about to have the Russian army invade Ukraine to start a war.

“The effort to promote human rights and to help wherever necessary by any possible (and impossible) means is always a challenge and doesn’t bring results overnight. Quite the opposite, in fact. While 20 years ago, it seemed as if our fragmented world was slowly but surely moving closer to one better world, today’s situation is far from optimistic,” festival director Ondřej Kamenický said.

“That being said, this year's festival will feature a program-wide selection of stories about brave heroes tirelessly fighting for freedom and democracy, proving that active resistance to injustice makes a difference and is here to stay, no matter what happens,” Kamenický added.

This year, the 24th edition of One World, also known as Jeden svět, will offer 80 documentaries and six virtual reality films. There will also be internationally acclaimed films from prestigious foreign festivals. Most films will have English and Czech subtitles. The festival, in cooperation with the Documentary Film Institute, will support filmmakers in Ukraine with specially added screenings. Aside from Prague, screenings will also take place in 24 other cities from March 21 to April 3.

The festival will open with Polish director Kacper Lisowski’s “Judges Under Pressure.” The film shows the steep fall of the independent judiciary in Poland, a member of the European Union. It is proof that we can never be sure of freedom. A discussion with director Lisowski, Judge Igor Tuleya, and producer Iwona Harris will follow the first screening at Lucerna.

Another screening of “Judges Under Pressure” at the Municipal Library will be part of the Talking Cinema section. Judge Tuleya will be part of the discussion there. Six films in total are in the Talking Cinema section that includes discussions at the Municipal Library

The festival theme of Journeys of Freedom is also reflected in the main category, which will have 11 films that reflect social upheavals in countries with undemocratic regimes. In total there are 10 categories including three competitions: International Competition, Right to Know, and the Czech Competition.

The international competition will present the best of recent world documentaries. Ten films will be aiming for the award for the best film and director this year.

There is a broad range of topics. Three women in Finland trying to improve industrial farm conditions in “Just Animals.” A 13-year-old girl opposes the traditional kidnapping of the bride in northern Vietnam in “Children of the Mist.” The plight of Yazidi women is seen in “Angels of Sinjar.” A woman is still looking for her three sisters, who were kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2014. “The Territory” takes us to Brazil, where indigenous people are threatened by logging and now Covid.

Right To Know has 10 films focusing on human rights violations. “Be My Voice” looks at an activist fighting for the right not to wear a hijab in public in Iran. Women’s rights again are featured in “Choices/Voices,” about abortion restrictions in Germany. A timely entry is “Treasures of Crimea,” which puts a light on the ownership of artifacts that were on display outside Crimea when Russia occupied the province. The issue wound up in Dutch courts.

The Czech competition also features 10 films. Topics include the life of a repeat offender in “René – The Prisoner of Freedom,” controversial child-rearing techniques in “Every Single Minute,” lives of former soldiers in “War Veterans,” and politics in “First Time Voters” and “Points for the President.”

Other thematic categories are To Care and Protect, the Future Calls, Unearthed, Panorama, One World Interactive, and Docs for Kids. There is also a side program called East Doc Platform.

Some films from the festival will also be available online on April 3–17. The festival has been organized by the non-governmental organization People in Need (Člověk v tísni) since 1999. Find out more about the festival, including the full schedule, on the One World website. Updates can be found on the festival’s Facebook page.

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