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Ji.hlava announces its retrospective programmes


- The showcases include anthropological documentaries by Karol Plicka, works from the underground Romanian experimental scene and an examination of the term “roots”

Ji.hlava announces its retrospective programmes
The Earth Sings (1933) by Karol Plicka

Along with its competitive and non-competitive selections of contemporary documentaries and its rich industry programme, the 2021 edition of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (happening physically in Jihlava, Czech Republic, from 26-31 October and online during the whole month of November) will also host three new, exciting and carefully curated retrospectives. Work on them was demanding, and it has taken months, if not years, to bring them to fruition.

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In the retrospective called Translucent Being: Karol Plicka, curated by Ji.hlava programmers Petr Kubica and Adriana Belešová, the audience will be able to see 15 carefully selected works by well-known Slovak-Czech ethnologist, documentarian and cinema pioneer Karol Plicka. Probably the most famous title in the selection is The Earth Sings (1933), which was awarded at the 2nd Venice Film Festival in 1934. The two other feature-length films are another Venice title, Over Hill and Dale (1929, showcased at the 1st Venice Film Festival in 1933), and Visiting Slovaks from New York Through to Mississippi (1937), while the rest of the movies in the programme are shorts made between 1929 and 1946. All of the films will be screened from the classic 35 mm reel.

In Conference Fascinations: Romania, the focus is on Romanian experimental films made in underground conditions during the Ceauşescu dictatorship. The retrospective curated by Andrea Slováková will host 24 of these films made by individuals or artistic collectives (such as Arad-based kinema ikon and Timişoara-based Sigma Art Movement). They are mostly shorts, with only one mid-length, Mircea Saucan’s The Alert! (1967), which has never been shown outside Romania, meaning that Ji.hlava IDFF will host its international premiere. Although the films differ in their styles and approaches, and different branches of knowledge (ranging from fine arts and literature to natural sciences, mathematics and geometry) served as their sources of inspiration, they were all made by filmmakers without any formal knowledge and outside a system that was never open to them. They have now all been digitalised and are usually recognised within the category of experimental cinema. The retrospective at Ji.hlava aims to serve as a “best of”, of sorts.

Finally, the term “roots”, both in its literal and symbolic meaning, is the subject of this year’s Fascination retrospective. Ten experimental shorts from different time periods (from 1951-2019) have been hand-picked by Andrea Slováková in order to examine roots as a visual motif, as a function in nature and in a more figurative sense.

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