Jihlava documentary festival opens with film about Vladimir Mečiar

Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival opening, photo: CTK

The 21st edition of the annual Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival has got underway. The festival opened with a film by Tereza Nvotová called The Lust for Power about the controversial Slovak politician Vladimir Mečiar. The former Slovak prime minister is not the only politician focused on by documentary film makers this year.

'Mečiar',  photo: archive of Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
I asked Marek Hovorka, the festival’s director, if politics was the dominating theme of this year’s programme:

“I think the reason is that these issues are now a hot topic in society after the elections, both for directors and the audiences.

“Of course it was important for the directors to reflect on some issues and focus on reflections about some issues and politicians not only in the Czech Republic or Slovakia but also in Germany and France. But in general we screen 342 films this year and I am happy that the variety of the documentary films is much bigger.”

The author of this year’s Jihlava IDFF’s festival spot is the Icelandic composer, musician and experimental filmmaker Jóhann Jóhannsson, who will also be one of the festival’s guests. What is he bringing to the festival?

Actually we are very happy that he created this year’s festival spot. He is an experimental filmmaker, but also a musician and composer. And he is very successful in Hollywood but he is also very much oriented towards experimental cinema and the experimental music scene. And this kind of personality, spanning big business as well as experimental works, is very important to us.

“Jihlava is a place where you can find a big diversity of filmmaking from blockbusters, which are successful all around the world to films that are very personal, unique and hard to understand. But the festival is a place where you can really show the diversity of different approaches.”

Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival opening,  photo: CTK
This year, the Jihlava IDFF will host the acclaimed Oscar-winning documentarian Marcel Ophüls. Marcel Ophüls will accept the Contribution to World Cinema Award. Which of his films will you be showcasing?

“We will be showing four of his films, for example Hotel Terminus, which won a Special prize at Cannes, as well as the Oscar for the best documentary film. It is his masterpiece reflecting the Nazi era in France.

“The second film, which is very unique and very interesting to screen in the Czech Republic, is related to the year 1938 and to the Munich Agreement and the approach of the big countries such as the United Kingdom and France to Czechoslovakia.

“Marcel Ophüls has asked us to shoot the discussion after the film, because he is also going to screen the film in Germany and he is very curious about the different reactions here in the Czech Republic and later on in Germany.”