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Romanian Auteur Cristi Puiu to Be Sole Juror at Ji.hlava Documentary Film Festival

The Czech Republic’s top competitive doc event, the Ji.hlava fest, has announced the main prize for its 23rd edition will be decided by sole juror director-screenwriter Cristi Puiu, a leading figure in the Romanian New Wave.

The Opus Bonum section, screening international non-fiction films, traditionally invites a single juror, who will this year weigh nine works including entries from France, the U.K., India, Madagascar and Palestine. Docs in a wide variety of formats take on issues from racism to environmental disasters along with personal stories of soldiers, reformers and political leaders.

One standout in the category, “Wishing You the Same” by Arnaud de Mezamat, is an adaptation of the cult novel “Europeana” by Patrik Ourednik, published in 2001 and translated into 36 languages.

The Czech entry in this section, meanwhile, “Kiruna – A Brand New World” by Greta Stocklassa, is “an almost apocalyptic depiction of an area literally engulfed by the mining industry,” according to the filmmakers, shot in the northern Swedish city of the film’s title.

Other juries at the fest, running Oct. 24-29, include five film professionals judging the Between the Seas section of Central and Eastern European docs: Serbian filmmaker Srdan Keca; University of Pennsylvania film professor Timothy Corrigan; Emilie Bujes, artistic director of Switzerland’s Visions du Reel fest; Bulgarian poet Kapka Kassabova; and Alessandro Stellino, artistic director of Italy’s IsREAL fest.

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Jurors awarding the Czech Joy doc prize will include last year’s winner, Karel Zalud (prison series “Enclosed World”), while fest auds themselves will be the jurors of the shorts competition, Short Joy.

These 17 films from around the globe, posted online ahead of the fest at DAFilms.com, win votes online to determine a winner announced at the fest opening in the vintage-era community hall in Jihlava.

Fest programmers also announced a strong current of Ukrainian films screening in various sections, including a look at the work of Feliks Sobolev in the Translucent Being tribute section.

Called a director who “pushed the boundaries of documentary film reflection” by programmer Andrea Slovakova, Sobolev is an overlooked director considered “one of the greats of Soviet documentary filmmaking” who was nevertheless almost unknown outside Ukraine. His use of animation, time-lapse footage and invented technologies to capture scientific phenomena were revolutionary, Slovakova says.

The fest will screen seven Sobolev works, including “Animals’ Tongue” (1967), exploring parallels between the worlds of humans and animals, and “Keep at It, You’re Talented” (1979), focusing on ways to overcome psychological obstacles.

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