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JIHLAVA 2019 Awards

Fonja, a film by youths at a detention centre, wins at the 23rd Ji.hlava

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- Among the nine films screened in Opus Bonum, the winner was a film made by youth delinquents in Madagascar under the direction of German filmmaker Lina Zacher

Fonja, a film by youths at a detention centre, wins at the 23rd Ji.hlava
Lina Zacher accepting the Best World Documentary Film in the Opus Bonum section for Fonja (© Jihlava IDFF)

On Monday 28 October, the closing ceremony of the 23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival was held in the DKO cultural centre in Jihlava, Czech Republic. Fonja [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, a Malagasy-German film with a refreshingly direct and playful approach to filmmaking, won the main prize in Opus Bonum, the main competitive section representing contemporary international documentary production, as well as the Special Mention.

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Because Fonja was made by a collective of young filmmakers, all inmates in the largest youth detention centre in Madagascar, the main award for Best World Documentary Film 2019 went to all of the film’s directors: Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky, and Lina Zacher, “for the warmth, the intuition, the trust, the courage and generosity that are holding together a film that keeps on reaffirming the power of the innocent gaze while echoing the voices of the old masters”, as stated by the sole juror, Cristi Puiu. He handed out the Special Mention only to Lina Zacher, the creator, producer and editor of the film, who directed the young filmmakers, “for the intelligent and inspired use of the cinematographic device in her search for the ineffable.

In competition section Between the Seas, the award for Best Central and East European Documentary Film 2019 went to Romanian documentary Teach [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
, by Alex Brendea, which centres on a rural Transylvanian math teacher who teaches his students at home. The jury praised the film “for its celebration of the unconventional, for its embrace of messiness, imagination and passion in teaching”. The winner received an award of €10,000.

In the Czech Joy section, which was opened this year for the first time to Czech films made by non-Czech directors, the award for Best Czech Documentary Film 2019 and a financial award of €10,000 went to Solo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Artemio Benki
film profile
]
by French-born director Artemio Benki. The film focuses on a young Argentine piano virtuoso and composer whose life has been turned upside-down by mental illness. The jury appreciated “the lightness, nonviolence and concentration used by the author to portray a strong human story of a suffering person and to get as close as possible without disturbing formal effects and pathos”.

In the programme section First Lights, focusing on debut films by documentary filmmakers, the excellent Aphasia [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Jelena Jureša won the main award as well as the Student jury award. The experimental, essayistic documentary about the banality of evil convinced the jury with “its powerful ability to provoke a visceral response”, “its capacity to elicit the violence it explores”, for “translating content into form and experience” and focusing “on the collective silence surrounding brutal historical crimes and the fragmentation of history”.

Meanwhile, the Contribution to World Cinema Award at the 2019 Ji.hlava went to Kazakhstani director Sergey Dvortsevoy, the author of festival spot of this year’s edition. The festival trophy of the 23rd annual Ji.hlava IDFF was designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Opus Bonum

Best World Documentary Film
Fonja [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky, Lina Zacher (Madagascar/Germany)

Special Mention
Fonja - Lina Zacher

Between the Seas

Best Central and East European Documentary Film
Teach [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
- Alex Brendea (Romania)

Best Central and East European Documentary Student Film
Life Could Be So Beautiful - Filip Jacobson, Angelika Herta (Poland/Germany)

Special Mention
Daily Manure - Nikola Krutilová (Czech Republic) (short film)

Czech Joy

Best Czech Documentary Film
Solo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Artemio Benki
film profile
]
- Artemio Benki (Czech Republic/France/Argentina/Austria)

Special Mention
Lost Coast - Jiří Zykmund (Czech Republic)

Student Jury Award
Kings of Šumava - Kris Kelly (Czech Republic/Ireland)

Student Jury Special Mention
Apparatgeist - Marie-Magdalena Kochová (Czech Republic) (short film)

Fascinations

Best Experimental Documentary Film
Action, Almost Unable to Think - Haonan Mao (China) (short film)

Special Mention
abiding - Ugo Petronin (Netherlands) (short film)

Fascinations: Exprmntl.cz

Best Czech Experimental Documentary Film
Moréna Rex - Marie Lukáčová (Czech Republic) (short film)

Special Mention
Abstract Horror - Franz Milec (Czech Republic) (short film)

First Lights

Best Feature-Length Documentary Debut Film
Aphasia [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Jelena Jureša (Belgium)

Student Jury Award
Aphasia - Jelena Jureša

Short Joy

Best Short Documentary Film
Shendy Wu: a Diary - Ingrid Pokropek (Argentina)

A Testimony on Politics

Best Film
The Cave [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Feras Fayyad (Denmark/Syria/Germany/United States/Qatar)

A Testimony on Knowledge

Best Film
The Other Side of Mars [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Minna Långström (Finland)

A Testimony on Nature

Best Film
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch - Nicholas de Pencier, Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky (Canada)

Silver Eye

Silver Eye Award Feature length category
Transnistra [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Anna Eborn (Sweden/Denmark/Belgium)
Special Mention
The Wind. A Documentary Thriller [+see also:
film review
interview: Michał Bielawski
film profile
]
- Michal Bielawski (Poland/Slovakia)

Silver Eye Award Short length category
Pripyat Piano - Eliška Cílková (Czech Republic)
Special Mention
Waiting for a Miracle - Aljona Surzhikova (Estonia)

Best Festival Poster
Festival Identity: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Audience Award: International Short FF Zubroffka

Audience Award
Two Roads - Radovan Síbrt (Czech Republic)

Contribution to World Cinema Award
Sergey Dvortsevoy

Best Audiodocumentary
Dobrá vůle - Matěj - Tereza Reková (Czech Republic)

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