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Ji.hlava’s Inspiration Forum Tackles Myriad Topics Such as Climate Change, Women in Society, Crisis in Democracy

Climate Change, Women in Society, Democracy's
Courtesy of Nancie Battaglia (left), Pavel Golovkin/AP/Shutterstock (right)

Running as a parallel section to the main festival, The Inspiration Forum has grown to be an integral and unique offering of the Ji.hlava Intl. Documentary Film Festival (Oct. 24-29).

Over the course of the six-day festival, 100 invited guests – authors, academics, scientists, analysts and politicians – will speak on six main topics: climate change; women in society; the crisis of democracy; the rise of China; the role of the Catholic Church in today’s world; and “How Not to Be Afraid” at a time when news about environmental crises through to terrorism dominates the headlines.

The Inspiration Forum does exactly what its name suggests – providing inspiration, ideas and dialogue for festival-goers alongside the documentary screenings and talks.

Crucially, says festival director Marek Hovorka, the Forum also helps open up the documentary festival to new and different types of audiences who will “hopefully then discover the great power of documentary cinema.”

As an example, speakers on the climate change day include U.S. environmentalist Bill McKibben (pictured left), who will talk about the climate crisis, and Isabella Salton, the head of Brazilian environmental organization Instituto Terra that is fighting to save the Brazilian rainforest. These international speakers are mixed with local and regional stars, such as Jihlava native Aleš Palán, whose book of interviews with loners from the Czech Republic’s Šumava mountains, “Better to Go Crazy in the Wild,” has become a bestseller in the country.

For the day dedicated to the position of women in society, speakers include Fawzia Koofi (pictured right), an advocate for women rights and a candidate for the presidency of Afghanistan, and Dagestani writer Alisa Ganieva, whose debut, “Salaam, Dalgat!,” had to be published under a male pseudonym to avoid the label “a story for women.”

The Inspiration Forum started small in 2010, when three guests were invited to speak at the event as way of providing inspiration and discussion for festival delegates.

Three years ago, it became a much larger event spread across six days. Hovorka says the guests range from global and regional stars through to speakers who are important figures in the Czech Republic and the town of Jihlava itself. That way, the discussions can investigate the different perspectives and ways that people around the world are dealing with similar issues and problems.

Hovorka stresses the “symbiosis” between the documentary sections and The Inspiration Forum. “People watch the films, and if they feel like talking and exploring more about the subject, they can share their views and continue their discussion.”

A festival, he says, often creates its own kind of bubble, one that can often be detached from the real world. “We try to put more bubbles together to create a bigger bubble – to bring more and different types of groups together in one place.”