Jihlava fest falls for ‘Martyrs’

Festival honors Tamadon's examination of Islam

Iranian holy men drew praise in the Czech Republic Saturday when the Jihlava docu fest awarded its top prize to “Bassidji” (Martyrs), Mehran Tamadon’s examination of fundamentalist Islam.

The Iranian/French/Swiss co-production was singled out by seminal docu auteur Jorgen Leth for being insightful on a topic about which little is known in the West.

In its 13th edition, fest showed off its growing role as a key showcase for nonfiction film in Central Europe, along with partner docu festival Leipzig, held at the same time. A larger-than-ever contingent of North American pubcaster reps and fest scouts turned out to hear pitches from emerging talent at fest’s East European Forum workshop — and to look over the 280-plus pics at East Silver docu market.

Youthful Czech auds, meanwhile, trekked to the small South Bohemian town’s communist-era House of Culture for a look at Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” and to cheer for “The Yes Men Fix the World.”

Czech docu nod went to “I Love My Boring Life” by Jan Gogola Jr., while Jan Sipek’s “Brain Fight” scored special mention. East European docu kudo went to “The Border,” Jaroslav Vojtek’s look at a Slovak town cut in half by a political boundary. “Workers Leaving the Factory (Dubai),” by American Ben Russell, won the experimental docu trophy for its reinterpretation of the historic Lumiere brothers footage from 1895.

Aud fave kudo went to Martin Marecek’s “Automat,” which recounts the story of a bicyclist protest movement and biker Jan Bouchal, who was killed by a driver.

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