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Jihlava applauds ‘Two Versions of Hell’

Prague's documentary festival attracts scouts

PRAGUE — War crimes, ice fishing and human trafficking captivated juries at the Jihlava docu fest, which wrapped Saturday in the southern Czech town, generating interest from TV scouts from throughout Europe.

Fest’s 11th edition, based in the hulking communist-era DKO community hall, saw world docu kudo going to “731: Two Versions of Hell,” James Hong’s probe into WWII-era biological weapons war crimes by the Japanese. The Central and Eastern European docu prize was scored by Sergei Loznitsa’s “Artel,” an atmospheric account of fishermen plying bleak and frozen Russian seascapes.

Anja Salomonowitz’s “It Happened Just Before,” a stylized Austrian pic reenacting the problems of women coerced into working in brothels, won a special jury kudo. The Czech docu title went to “A Town Called Hermitage,” a two-year project by Martin Dusek and Ondrej Provaznik that explores daily life in a border town almost devoid of its original inhabitants, thanks to wartime decrees.

Producer Alexandar Furtula inspired independent documakers, pointing out that “Hermitage” was made without funding from Czech TV, the usual sponsor. He added that the pubcaster could finally kick in something now, including a commitment to broadcast pic at full length.

Filip Remunda, helmer of the 2004 hit docu “Czech Dream,” won the aud prize for his portrait of a street preacher, “The Tadpole, the Rabbit and the Holy Ghost.”

Commissioning editors from a dozen European broadcasters and Toronto’s TVO courted new and unfinished work, giving particular attention to “Chemistry,” Pawel Lozinski’s story of Polish cancer patients coming together.

Woody Vasulka, Czech founder of New York’s the Kitchen mixed media center and theater, picked up a kudo for contribution to world cinema.

Fest’s buzzing market, East Silver, also had scouts scouring over 500 new docus from around the world, on topics ranging from busy Czech crematoriums to Greek towns endeavoring to import women.

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