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Ji.hlava IDFF confirms a physical edition for 2020


- “Calling off or postponing this year’s edition was not, and is not, an option for us,” says the festival’s director, Marek Hovorka

Ji.hlava IDFF confirms a physical edition for 2020
(© Stefan Berec)

The largest festival for creative documentaries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, is bracing for its upcoming 24th edition (27 October-1 November 2020). The festival will most likely be held in physical form, as opposed to other similar events such as CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which were forced to resort to a virtual version as a result of the pandemic-related prevention measures.

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Even though the largest domestic film gathering, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, has been postponed and replaced by a more decentralised local alternative (see the news), the situation in the Czech Republic is gradually returning to normal as the pandemic restrictions have already been lifted and local cinemas are being allowed to reopen (see the news). The first film festival to be held as a physical event will be Days of European Film, set to take place in mid-June, while the Summer Film School festival has also announced a physical event to be held in the second week of August.

"We are working on various scenarios to adapt to the current situation in the Czech Republic and abroad at the end of October," says festival director Marek Hovorka. "If it proves necessary owing to the limited capacity of a cinema, we will open more cinemas than the usual eight theatres during the festival, and we will add more screenings of films so that festival-goers will have the opportunity to see the movies on a big screen. We are also looking for new solutions for those viewers who belong to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or seriously ill," the director adds.

The festival has not announced any significant changes to its programming, even though the organisers note, “It is highly probable that the festival will see some changes as well as limitations in 2020. However, a complete cancellation of the upcoming edition was never an option.” As in previous years, the gathering will introduce the latest documentary films from the Czech Republic and abroad. "We don't want this year to become known as the year of 'abandoned' films that have been forgotten because of the pandemic, which had bad luck and didn't reach the audience. That’s why we are absolutely committed to organising the festival. And we are happy to be part of a documentary community that is actively pursuing ways to connect films with viewers across Europe, even under these altered conditions,” says Hovorka. The deadline to submit films for the upcoming edition is 31 May.

Furthermore, the festival has registered its first 870 accredited visitors. Moreover, the organisers have set up a donation scheme to go along with the early-bird accreditation. A total of 40,000 Czech crowns (approximately €1,500) were contributed to the local hospital to buy ventilators, while 24,000 Czech crowns (almost €900) were given to single-parent families that have lost income due to the lockdown measures. "For the first time in history, we have combined the sale of accreditations with donations, even though we had thought about doing this in previous years. I'm very happy with how well this first attempt has turned out," says Hovorka.

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