“A logical change”: 2024 One World to also show fiction films on human rights theme

The 26th edition of the One World festival of human rights films gets underway in Prague in just under a fortnight’s time. For the first time the showcase is also including fiction films this year – but what has not changed is the breadth of projects from all corners of the globe.

The powerful documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, hotly tipped to win an Academy Award, is set to open the 26th edition of One World, which prides itself on being one of the planet’s biggest showcases of films focused on human rights.

For the previous quarter century, One World was a documentary film festival, but this year – for the first time – it is also screening fiction works.

At a news conference presenting the 2024 programme, director Ondřej Kamenický said this was a “logical change”.

Ondřej Kamenický | Photo: Tomáš Vodňanský,  Czech Radio

“Documentary films are mixed sometimes with fiction films, and fiction films are sometimes mixed with the perspective of documentary films. So it’s actually nothing so new for us, because we have worked with this type of, let’s say, hybrid films for a long time.

"But for now we decided to mix it all together and maybe also show our audience different topics and some different territories.

"For example this year we will have fiction films from Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar – where film is sometimes not so well developed and sometimes documentaries don’t even come from these countries.”

While there are several films from Ukraine, the Israel Gaza war is too fresh to have made it into this year’s edition, says One World programme director Tomáš Poštulka.

Tomáš Poštulka | Photo: Mylène Garin,  Radio Prague International

“We’ll see. Maybe next year we will have something directly about what happened at the beginning of October. But at the same time, we really wanted to have this reflected in the programme.

"For example, we have the film Mourning in Lod, which basically talks about this vicious circle of violence that the Israelis and Palestinians have got themselves into.

"We also have the film Three Promises, which is a more archival one, from the beginning of the century.”

Kamila Dolotina | Photo: Olga Vasinkevič,  Radio Prague International

As for other highlights, dramaturge Kamila Dolotina said the organisers were particularly happy to be bringing the film Agent of Happiness to this year’s edition.

“It documents an idiosyncratic sociological survey that’s used to ascertain just how happy people are in Bhutan.

"We all really love this film. Naturally we watch hundreds of films with extremely tough subject matter, so it’s great to have a crowd-pleaser like this.”

Programme chief Tomáš Poštulka also has a tip for One World audiences, The Invention of the Other, which he says is long but definitely worth it.

“It’s about an expedition to the Amazon in an effort to find a native tribe that has never been discovered, so far, by civilisation: untouched indigenous people.

"And the main aim of the expedition is to bring positive contact to these people. For the whole two and a half hours you are in tension, like, What’s going to happen? Will they find them, will they not find them? What will be the first contact?

"It’s a very exciting film about something that has never been seen before.”

The 26th edition of One World begins in Prague on March 20. Smaller editions will then be held in around four dozen other cities and towns around Czechia.