Ji.hlava Intl. Documentary Film Festival has revealed to Variety the projects that the participants of its 2021 Emerging Producers program are working on. The producers were asked to deliver an Elevator Pitch for their projects.
Every year since 2010, the festival has selected 18 up-and-coming producers of documentary films (17 European and one representing a non-European guest country), which are then provided with educational, networking and promotional support.
There are more than 170 alumni of the program, many of whom have gone on to win awards at major festivals.
The 2022 participants will be announced by Ji.hlava during a Cannes Docs event at Marché du Film on July 12.
“Against the Tide”
Director: Sarvnik Kaur
Genre: Creative Documentary
Producer: Quentin Laurent, Les Films de l’oeil sauvage (France) and A Little Anarky (India)
Rakesh, 30, is a guardian of Bombay’s Koli fishing tradition. His beloved cousin Ganesh, 32, firmly believes in technology and uses satellite geo-positioning to fish for tuna. Will their friendship survive, caught in the turmoil of an over-exploited sea, climate change and the health crisis?
Supported by major international funds, this film debut tells an urgent and universal story: that of two fishermen in the Gulf of Bombay, one of the places in the world most affected by the consequences of climate change and water pollution.
Director: Mladen Kovačević
Genre: Documentary, medical thriller
Producer: Iva Plemić Divjak, Horopter Film Production (Serbia)
One of the greatest medical achievements of our civilization – the eradication of smallpox during the 1972 epidemic in Yugoslavia – is among the most inspiring chapters in human history.
Next year, the world will celebrate 45 years since the last registered case of smallpox. An archival documentary created by an award-winning director using footage from the never-released Variola Collection shows an epidemic on the fringes of Europe against the backdrop of a first-hand testimony of a front-line fighter.
“Blazing Interwar” (working title)
Director: David Schwartz, Andra Tarara
Genre: Hybrid (documentary/animation/experimental)
Producer: Anda Ionescu, Tangaj Production (Romania)
A bomb goes off in the Romanian Senate on Dec. 8, 1920. The first and only attack of its kind unravels in an unprecedented investigation. Young Max Goldstein and two other anarchists are deemed responsible for plotting the act. But who is Max, the “pirate hook” man, and why is he engaged in explosive experiments?
Bold and innovative in form and style, the film digs deep into the reasons and forms of political violence, from the socio-political-cultural context of the interwar period in Romania to contemporary society and the issues it is facing today. It attacks a topical subject, because various forms of terrorism remain the focus of global interest.
Director: Ondřej Šálek
Genre: Observation, documentary
Producer: Marek Novák, Xova Film (Czech Republic)
Every Thursday in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, young interns and future employees of European institutions gather to drink, network, lobby and look for new contacts, jobs or partners at Place du Luxembourg aka PLUX. This weekly ritual spiced with Aperol happy hours and loud music has become the seedbed of the next generation of Europe’s white-collar elite. What are their backgrounds, their ambitions and dreams?
“Building Europe” is a social documentary focusing on those who will soon be making important decisions about life in Europe. Smart, educated, mostly white and often wealthy young adults – an important and yet rarely documented social strata.
Director: Chérine Karam
Genre: Creative documentary
Producer: Mario Adamson, Sisyfos Film (Sweden), Ashley Smith, Clara Harris (Scotland)
In the scarred and crumbling city of Beirut, a maverick mother and business owner is holding the fort. A vintage shop called Depot Vente that Nawal Akl founded years ago has thanks to her become a shelter for desperate youth in need of an escape, a haven where tired souls and discarded clothes are mended.
From a region mostly associated with social, political and economic turmoil comes this heart-warming story of resilience and hope, in which debut director Chérine Karam paints an intimate portrait of the inner circle of Depot Vente and the struggle of the Lebanese youth for a future in Beirut.
Director: Ivan Perić, Alvaro Congosto
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Producers: Ivan Perić, Dream Division (Croatia), Alex Lora, Handful Films (U.S.), Fabio Aprea, Paolo Luigi De Cesare (Italy)
Marija goes to New York to collect the belongings of her late great-aunt Gea, a professional photographer who lived in the Westbeth Artists Community. Marija brings along her boyfriend and assistant filmmaker Ivan. While Marija reveals the unknown side of Gea, Ivan is making his own discoveries about Marija.
Although set in different time periods (in the 1950s and today), the two stories share the same themes – love, art and life’s purpose. The world has changed substantially in the last 70 years, but we are still searching for answers to the same big questions about life.
Director: Marta Dauliute, Viktorija Šiaulyte
Genre: Inquisitive documentary
Producer: Niklas Kullström, Hillstream Pictures (Finland), Marta Dauliute, Viktorija Šiaulyte, MDEMC (Sweden), Dagne Vildžiunaite, Just a Moment (Lithuania)
“Good Life” is a compelling study of a co-living start-up that helps its tenants run their entire life as a business enterprise. With a sharp wit the film highlights today’s loss of privacy and how corporate narrative becomes a part of our innermost self.
A photo is featured on the cover of a Swedish national newspaper: showing a group of six people sitting together on a large sofa with their laptops open. The caption says: “They live at their workplace.” “Good Life” provides an insight into a co-living start-up that sells the entrepreneurial lifestyle as the new norm.
Director: Matej Bobrik
Producer: Agnieszka Skalska, Koi Studio (Poland)
Nikesh and his family have come from Nepal to Poland looking for a new home. The world that awaits them here is different from what they had imagined. Nikesh is building his future in Europe, while his father is torn between his wife who cannot imagine growing old in Poland, and his son who can no longer imagine growing up in Nepal.
This is a story of people who see Poland and Europe as their promised land. Polish streets are scattered with new immigrants from Asia, whom we know nothing about. The film explores this phenomenon and tells a tender story about a family trying to fit in.
Director: Egil Håskjold Larsen
Producer: Racha Helen Larsen, Yellow Log (Norway)
In the desolate arctic landscape at the Svalbard archipelago, things are changing fast. The ice is melting, the polar bears are starving, tourism is booming and the scientists are drilling the ice for answers, but the local coal miners think the worst is yet to come.
“Inferno” offers a new perspective on the consequences of climate change and the paradox of human nature. A visually stunning account of the fast-changing situation in the Arctic by the acclaimed cinematographer of “Gunda.” A mesmerizing portrait of a vast icy landscape, untouched nature and a misplaced society.
“Milonga of Angels”
Director: Ildikó Kosztolni
Genre: Creative documentary
Producer: Ildikó Kosztolni, iamnewhere (Hungary)
Lexa, a Jewish psychoanalyst and tango teacher relocates to Budapest from the U.S. to start a therapy group. At a milonga class, she meets K., a heavily traumatized fellow dancer who is in search of inner peace. Lexa offers her help through dance, but one day she shows up dressed as a man.
Having tried everything else, can our society still be open to new ways of healing? Does tango have its place in the healing process? Can an Argentine-American queer tango champion and psychoanalyst fit in a conservative Eastern European Community? Will she be able to prove the effectiveness of her methods?
Director: Eva Knopf
Producer: Maximilian Haslberger, Amerikafilm (Germany)
Based on the idea of the Japanese craft Kintsugi, the preserved fragments of a silent film by director Yasujirô Ozu are re-read and incorporated in “Movie Kintsugi” to become the starting point of a reflection about today’s Japan straddled between tradition, consumer culture and the aesthetics of imperfection.
Fragments of an Ozu film are linked with the story of a young woman in today’s Tokyo – footage from the 1920s in Tokyo collides with material from the 2020s. Tradition meets modernism. The lifestyle of a contemporary woman comes in contrast to gendered role models of the past. A film about the essence of imperfection.
“Necropolis” follows the construction of massive underground burial tunnels at the biggest Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, “The Mountain of Rest.” Along with its curious visitors, Palestinian builders and Ultra-Orthodox morticians, we wander around the lower city of the dead, reflecting on life and death.
The underground cemetery in Jerusalem is a complex national project and the first of its kind in the world. The location raises questions about the various tensions in Israeli society: progress versus tradition, innovation versus rabbinate, hard labor versus sacred work. All the various oppositions create a humane and vibrant collage of Jerusalem down under.
“Nistru. The Irreversible Flow of Life”
Director: Iurie Tocmas (Moldova)
Genre: Creative documentary
Producer: Ieva Ūbele, Baltic Balkan Productions (Latvia)
The Nistru is an almost forgotten and neglected river in the heart of Europe. The future of the nation living on its banks depends on whether the people learn to see the river as a living entity and a unique character.
A meditative journey along the river, driven by symbolism, allegory and insights that will make you think about what happens on the river of your childhood in your absence.
Director: Deniz Tortum, Kathryn Hamilton
Genre: Documentary essay
Producer: Firat Sezgin, Institute of Time (Netherlands)
We’re backing up the planet, creating 3D models of animals, rainforests, cities and people. We are creating archives as if an ecological collapse could be staved off through some digital Noah’s Ark of beasts and objects. “Our Ark” is a film essay about our efforts to create a virtual replica of the real world.
“Our Ark” talks about how technology fills the void and distracts us from loss and absence in the physical world. “Our Ark” has just completed post-production and is now looking for institutions to partner up for exhibiting the work – such as museums and galleries with an interest in climate crisis and technology.
Director: Mátyás Prikler
Genre: Drama/political thriller
Producer: Zora Jaurová, Mátyás Prikler, MPhilms (Slovakia)
A politician deals with the global water crisis. A secret agent is trying to fix his own life. A fatal hunting accident forces them both to ask the same old questions: What is truth and what is worth sacrificing for the greater good?
Have you ever seen a Central European political thriller? What you get is a snowy drama that plays with the genre of political thriller trying to expose the moral dilemmas of power in contemporary society. Each character is trying to find the truth about what really happened. But whose story is really true?
“The Red Mayor”
Director: Alessandro Scippa
Genre: Documentary (history and humanities)
Producer: Antonella Di Nocera, Parallelo 41 Produzioni (Italy)
1975. In Napoli, the largest city in southern Italy, a “communist” mayor wins the election. This is the story of a dream and a style of politics able to build a close link to the people and emotions. His term ends after the terrible earthquake of 1980, when the destiny of Napoli was to be decided by criminal interests that still affect the community.
The peculiar character of Neapolitan politics and the cultural values it represents have universal appeal. It’s time to explore how the passionate European-style leftist politics were blown away together with the ghosts of the 20th century. This cinematic film employs fragments of images, mirror reflections and present refractions that provide an account of that unique time.
Director: Anna Giralt Gris
Producer: Jorge Caballero, GusanoFilms (Spain), Indifilm (Germany)
Want to know how to steal half a million euros from 39 different banks to finance social causes? “Robin Bank” tells the story of those who managed to do so, and how.
Some of the crucial changes in history have been achieved through disobedience. People who risked their own freedom to challenge the system have made a difference and paved the way for global transformation and justice. We are living in uncertain and volatile times and we need stories that help us believe that another world is possible.
“Six Weddings and a Family”
Director: Samira El Mouzghibati
Producer: Alice Lemaire, Michigan Films (Belgium), Pivonka Production (France)
“Why was I so devastated when I learnt I was having a daughter?” This film pictures three generations of women, from the director’s mother to her daughter, including her five sisters, drawing a line from Moroccan Rif to Brussels, from forced marriages to divorces, from small rebellions to love marriages.
Samira is an up-and-coming Belgian-Moroccan filmmaker who has made a deeply intimate film with great identifying power. What does it mean to be a young woman of bicultural identity in Europe today? Samira is a born storyteller who knows how to melt a family drama with a touch of humor and tenderness.
Download the Emerging Producers 2021 catalog here.