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One World festival wants to speak to Havel’s children

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One World festival (COURTESY)

A grave testimony called Burma VJ yesterday launched the 11th documentary film festival dedicated to human rights called One World. The festival will showcase 123 documentaries from more than 40 countries and is taking place in Prague until 19 March.

The festival will move to 29 other Czech towns during March and April. Echoes of the festival, organised by the NGO People in Need, will be presented in Brussels and Washington since the festival became part of the official cultural programme accompanying the Czech EU presidency. Smaller presentations will take place in Lisbon, New York and Beirut.

Memories of the future

A funny festival ad presents former President Václav Havel as a midwife who gave birth to a new generation. Organisers are thus trying to speak to the people who are 20 today – the first adult generation growing up in a free society after the fall of the iron curtain. The ad highlights the section of the festival dedicated to 20 years of democracy in the film industry, which will recall the changes that took place in central Europe during the past two decades, following the fall of the communist regime (films in this category can also be viewed in an online at

Alongside films that focus on human rights, political and social topics, this year, the organisers also focused on films reflecting global challenges of the current world that are likely to significantly influence the lives of those currently in their early 20s in future decades.

Igor Blažević, the festival founder, said all the previous festival years attempted to present the Czech audience with situations in places like Burma, Cuba, Congo, Chechnya, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Rwanda, Tibet, Iraq, Darfur, Israel or Palestine, “places where human right are violated on a large scale and where people still long and struggle for freedom, justice, dignity, liberation from poverty”. Blažević thinks this year it is no longer necessary to try to convince the public there is only one world. “We can feel how the world problems touch our own lives in very specific ways,” he explained in connection with the reasons why this year’s key section Europe in (one) world includes films dedicated to climate change, the loss of natural resources, energy, the economy and the financial crisis.

Except for the three competition categories, the festival programme also offers a number of other topics. Problems of the whole of the society in today’s world, but also unusual personal stories of the films included in the Panorama section. A section called Pictures of Africa will introduce documentaries offering a lighter view of the dark continent than is usually the case. There will also be an overview of Czech films (Ivetka and the Mountain, René, Forgotten Transports, etc.). One World will also introduce the work of a prominent American documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee who will be present at the festival. Another novelty will be a feature film El Paso by Zdeněk Tyc dealing with social exclusion of Roma.

From school to cinema

Apart from the traditional morning screenings for primary and secondary schools, the festival also introduces programme for the senior citizens and parents with children. There will also be a number of accompanying events (debates, panel discussions, exhibitions).

All films will have Czech subtitles or will be screened in Czech sound. Detailed festival programme can be found at


Burma VJ, a young Burmese reporter in an exile TV programme recorded the anti-governmental demonstrations that were brutally suppressed in Yangon in September 2007.

The Age of Stupid is an environmentalist documentary provocatively pointing out that the men have their last chance to prevent an unstoppable catastrophe.

I.O.U.S.A. is an analysis of the US fiscal policy supplemented by a survey among ordinary Americans whoa have no clue about the growing debt of the country.

Yodok Stories present a theatre director who escaped from the North Korean concentration camp and directed a musical about the Korean criminal practice.

Oil: Apocalypse Now? Official statements of the oil magnates standing in contrast with the independent prognosis warning against running out of the “black gold”.

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