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Ji.hlava’s 9th Inspiration Forum transforms a documentary film festival into a “festival of thought”


- Focusing on six key topics of today’s world, the new edition of the event brought together over one hundred guests from all over the world in more than thirty discussions

Ji.hlava’s 9th Inspiration Forum transforms a documentary film festival into a “festival of thought”
A picture from the Inspiration Forum talk with Bill McKibben (© Radek Lavicka/Jihlava IDFF)

Climate change, gender equality, democracies sliding into authoritarian systems, religion, the role of China as the new world superpower, and politics of fear, surely are some of the main issues the public discourse has been preoccupied with in the last few years. For the 9th year in a row, the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival brought them into focus in its documentary film programme but also with a series of talks and discussions.

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Bringing together more than one hundred guests from all over the world and organising more than thirty discussions in the course of six festival days, the Inspiration Forum once again proved to be an extremely popular series of events at a festival which already boasts a high attendance, especially by younger audiences. In fact, some of the events held within the Inspiration Forum series proved to be so popular that people were sitting on the floor and even queuing in the hallway to catch the discussions – confirming that the organisers definitely struck a note with the audience in choosing their areas of focus. “[The] topics […] were carefully selected and formulated. We believe that they are key to a better future. Because in order to change the world, or at least to survive the threats we are facing, we have to understand the things around us a bit more: in civic, political as well as personal terms,” said Tereza Swadoschová, head of the Inspiration Forum.

On Friday, in Re:Democracy, Croatian philosopher and political activist Srećko Horvat, political scientist and NATO’s strategic communication specialist Jonathan Terra, ‘future generations commissioner‘ in Wales Sophie Howe, and other guests, debated the crisis of a democratic society, searching for the path from critical thinking and subversive strategies towards finding constructive alternatives. “How to involve citizens in the decision-making process again? Which reforms should we be striving for? And how to deal with the issue of short election cycles which do not provide space for long-term visions?” summarised Swadoschová.

The one issue impossible to bypass this year was climate change. In a programme section entitled Climageddon!, the focus was on “unpleasant young voices,” young climate activists Greta Thunberg, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, and Yeb Saño, their influence within the global climate movement, their representation in the media, and their political influence. Another panel evaluated the efficiency of different strategies of change, while American author and environmentalist Bill McKibben opened the Saturday discussion by posing the climate crisis as a challenge.

On Monday, the Inspiration Forum discussions took up the rhetoric of fear in politics and media through an examination of the catastrophic scenarios that have become an integral part of today’s day-to-day life, in How Not To Be Afraid. Guests included British futurologist Jonathan Ledgard, author of the cargo drone and droneport concept for Africa, and former leading figure of German ultranationalist right-wing groups Christian Weissgerber, who shed light on the psychology of Neo-Nazism, admitting that he was feeling helpless when he was young; “one of the ways of overcoming my despair was humiliation of others,” explained Weissberger, who has been working in the line of prevention and elucidation of racist and nationalistic politics at schools, universities and conferences since 2012.

The entire programme of the 9th edition of Inspiration Forum at the 23rd Ji.hlava, including the discussions on religion (God & co.), gender equality (Woman in Change) and China (Made in China), can be found here.

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