Low-tech pix wow auds in Czech Republic

PRAGUE — Low-tech proved king with Czech auds at the 15th Jihlava Documentary Film Festival, where pre-digital filmmaking scored big.

“Lost Land,” a Belgian-Arabic doc by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd on refugee strife in Western Sahara, won fest’s main prize Saturday in an off-beat ceremony that riffed on a Titanic theme.

“Documentaries show us the holes in the hull,” fest topper Marek Hovorka had quipped at the Jihlava opening five days before, as fest filled the Czech fortress town with students, filmmakers and scouts from TV broadcasters throughout Europe and the U.S.

Juror and filmmaker James Hong praised “Lost Land,” with its unique 8mm look, for its artful approach to a compelling issue.

Innovators such as Canada’s Steve Sanguedolce fascinated auds with hand-painted 16mm footage in “Blinding,” about the subjectivity of vision, while Norway’s Gunnar Hall Jensen added other-worldly 8mm footage to his study of spiritual quest, “Gunnar Goes God.”

Portugal’s Marcelo Felix built his “Eden’s Ark” on nitrate prints discovered in vaults.

Georgia’s study of economic collapse, “Bakhmaro” (Restaurant) by Salome Jashi won the Central-Eastern Europe prize while Martin Marecek’s “Solar Eclipse,” a look at aid workers in Zambia, won for Czech doc and aud kudos. Austria’s “Endeavor,” created from space shuttle footage by Johann Lurf, took experimental doc honors.

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