High-quality Czech productions that you don't want to miss

Hořící prales a hasiči. snímek z filmu Incendios

Film CategoryPraha

One World always makes an effort to present Czech works. This year, you have the chance to see 10 quality Czech documentaries in the Czech Competition category.

One of them is the film First-Time Voters 2021. In the Czech Republic, the year 2021 was marked in large part by the parliamentary elections. What role does politics play in the lives of young adults who have just reached the age of majority and were able to vote for the first time last fall? In the several months leading up to the election, director Markéta Ekrt Válková set out to film students from various schools and social backgrounds. She was interested in finding out what world issues were most important to them and how they saw their futures, but a central theme was their relationship to politics. All in all, this diverse group of voters with different preferences are shown to take a responsible approach towards the election. They scrutinize political party platforms, attend rallies, and debate with teachers, friends, and parents, as well as the politicians running for election.

Czech documentary filmmaker Martin Trabalík and Bolivian director Geraldine Zambrana Velez teamed up to shoot Incendios, which explores the raging fires in Bolivia and the fight to keep them in check led by volunteer firefighters, who in the process become spokespersons for this urgent global crisis. Slash-and-burn agriculture, in which forests are cleared with fire, has long been a part of the human economy. But in South America, the economic interests of several influential individuals who burn rainforests in this way bear negative environmental and climate consequences and contribute to the suffering of indigenous peoples. A fragile ecosystem that's already suffering from the brunt of climate change is disappearing here at an alarming rate. In Bolivia, burning forests is still legal and an inadequately regulated practice.

Tomáš Polenský's film, War Veterans, tells of a fight, but with weapons. After coming home from their missions in Afghanistan and being discharged from the army, Czech war veterans struggle to re-assimilate after losing their sense of purpose and becoming alienated from their families and society. They must now face existential problems on a daily basis. For many soldiers, civilian life is a greater challenge than war itself. Former soldiers who've recently fought the Taliban must now mow lawns, and coming to terms with this change is not pleasant for some. The film gives the floor to several former soldiers who describe their return to civilian life. Although each copes with their situation differently, they have much in common.

The film, René – The Prisoner of Freedom, is a follow-up to the director Helena Třeštíková's longtitudinal documentary about a former criminal and tracks the next thirteen years of René's life after his release from prison. A known delinquent, René is now free after many years and wants to live an honest life. Meanwhile, a documentary, which has screened throughout the Czech Republic, has made him a familiar figure who has now captured the interest of the media as well as women. This (ir)redeemable character has retained his main traits: he is contemplative, highly intelligent and creative. At the same time, he continues to struggle with existential issues, goes from one temporary job to another, stays at friends’ and partners’ places or cheap dormitories, and finds himself in prison once again. How will René handle the new challenges?

You can look forward to these films and more from March 21st and in Prague from March 23rd. The entire festival programme can be found HERE.

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