What Lies Between the Seas?

The Jihlava IDFF and the Doc Alliance Films online portal celebrate the 15th anniversary of the significant event dedicated to documentary film. The portal visitors will have their share as well. From October 24, DAFilms presents several unique films awarded at the Jihlava festival. The selection of the best films of the past years comes from the Between the Seas competition section, traditionally presenting and awarding the best documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe.

In the course of the fifteen years, the key organizers of the Jihlava festival have been contributing to its original profile. Today, Jihlava IDFF is renowned for its sophisticated yet playful style which penetrates all festival events. The juries of the individual competition sections are varied and original, exactly in the spirit of the festival dramaturgy (and its soft spot for social experiment). Thus the winning film of the Opus Bonum competition section is selected by a single juror (from the ranks of filmmaking personalities), while the Czech Joy section includes a native of Jihlava besides film professionals, and the best experimental film is selected by members of a (filmmaking) family. In this aspect, the Between the Seas competition section represents an exception from the rule, since the four members of the jury are selected from the ranks of film critics, historians, filmmakers and journalists, being the closest to the traditional composition of juries at regular film festivals. On the other hand, one can suppose that the winning films, without being better or worse than the winning films of other categories, will give an adequate reflection of the contemporary taste of the international film public.
“The film is especially telling due to the fact that it can do without verbal commentary. It has found a perfect though fragile balance between the “tragedy of a comical man” and the arrogance of a leader who gradually loses his legitimacy. The film represents a decisive answer to the challenge of revealing history by means of images”. These are the words of the 2010 jury, presided by leading German theorist Thomas Elsaesser, explaining why they chose the epic compilation film The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu by Andrei Ujică as the best film. Two years earlier, another Romanian filmmaker won the favour of the Between the Seas jury, which included legendary historian of American avant-garde film P. Adams-Sitney; Thomas Ciulei was awarded for his film The Flower Bridge, a fragile portrait of a father taking care of a farm and his three adolescent children due to the forced absence of his wife.
The jury of the Between the Seas section often included awarded filmmakers as well. Leading Russian contemporary filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa was among them. While his fiction debut My Joy competed for the Palm d’Or in Cannes 2010, his documentary film Artel was awarded at the Jihlava festival. Made in the characteristic style of the filmmaker, the black-and-white portrait of the Russian winter elevates the banality of everyday to an original creative account alluding to the classics of Russian cinematography. Before becoming a jury member in Jihlava, Austrian filmmaker Anja Salomonowitz raised interest by her stage-managed para-documentary dealing with the global phenomenon of trafficking of women. Based on real accounts of these women, the film It Hapenned Just Before presents the accounts of other people directly connected to the filmed events and places, ranging from customs officers to a brothel barkeeper.
The films from the collection premiered at the Doc Alliance Films portal further include The Border by Jaroslav Vojtek, a documentary which made a successful tour of European festivals after winning in Jihlava 2009. The film tells “little” life stories against the backdrop of “big” history. “The communist heritage, the preservation of arbitrarily determined borders, the cruelty of absolute power, the ignorance of remote authorities, the importance of religion and the effort of families to stay together despite the forces trying to separate them”. That is how the jury described the winning film by Vojtek; which will be available for free just like the other films in this collection.


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