Mini One World festival opens at New York’s Bohemian National Hall

The One World (Jeden Svět) festival of human rights documentaries has established itself as one of the most interesting events on the Czech Republic’s cultural calendar, and the biggest festival of its kind in Europe. This year, to mark its 10th anniversary, One World (run by the NGO People in Need) is organising mini festivals in 10 cities around the world – including New York. At the opening at the city’s (under renovation) Bohemian National Hall on Monday night, I spoke to organiser Tereza Porybná.

'Damas de Blanco'
“Primarily we wanted to show films that were related to the activities of People in Need and their human rights department, so films about Cuba, Belarus and Burma. That’s why we screened Damas de Blanco [on the campaigning wives of Cuban political prisoners] as the opening film. Tomorrow we’re showing Kalinovski Square by [Belarusian director] Yuri Khashchevatski, and we’ll also have a Burmese panel with a short Burmese film.”

The panel I guess is one of the accompanying events.

“It is, yes. It’s the only accompanying event.”

I know this year is the 10th year of One World and you’re going to 10 cities. How many have you been to already, and how has it gone so far?

“We’ve just started. Two weeks ago we were in Kiev in Ukraine, where we were presenting 10 films at our sister festival – by sister festival I mean a film festival we actually helped to found, it’s a new human rights festival. We had 10 films and two delegates and it went well, we had a lot of people there. Now we’re in New York, in two days we’re starting in Brussels and then we’re going to Bulgaria.”

I know also you were talking about going to some countries where human rights are abused, like Cuba. Are you still planning to do that?

“We are. Actually I forgot to mention that it already happened in Belarus. That was parallel with our One World festival in Prague in March. There was one evening of human rights documentaries and then the fire department came to stop the event.”

What does it mean for the festival to have these kinds of events in other cities?

“I think partly it’s fun for us to organise, it’s another thing that we can do. We have the confidence with our programming that we are able to show films that are specific and good and interesting. Also it helps our international contacts to know about us, and helps us personally to meet people we want to talk to in other countries.”

This leg of One World around the World is partly being held here at the not yet completed Bohemian National Hall – how do you find this as a venue?

“It’s good. I was actually surprised how unfinished it is – I had no idea. But last year it was even more underground. It was in the basement in Tribeca. Now we’ve moved to an established venue and maybe next year we’ll have a regular cinema.”