Helle Faber’s production company Made in Copenhagen has been behind a string of documentary films that have made an impact far beyond the borders of her native Denmark. The producer has just been in Prague for the One World festival of human rights documentaries, giving workshops for local filmmakers at the East Doc Forum sidebar and introducing her company’s Putin’s Kiss, an excellent documentary that maps the fate of a leading member of Russia’s pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi.
At the start of The Invisible Men, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, a gay Palestinian named Louie describes how his father – on discovering his sexual orientation – brutally attacked him, slashing his face open with a knife. Louie has moved to Israel where he is relatively safe (and even wears a Star of David to blend in), but he faces great uncertainty every day. Prior to a screening, the film’s Israeli director Yariv Mozer outlined the predicament of such “invisible men”.
The award-winning film Sofia’s Last Ambulance, which is now screening at the One World festival of human rights documentaries, records the experiences of an ambulance crew in the Bulgarian capital over two years, capturing moments of high human drama against the backdrop of a barely functioning system. Travelling with the medics were two filmmakers, director Ilian Melev and soundman Tom Kirk. The latter, who is a guest at the festival, told me it had often been an intense experience.
Bravehearts, which opened the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague on Monday night, follows politically engaged Norwegian students preparing for student elections. However, midway through filming Norway suffered a terrible tragedy, when Anders Behring Breivik shot dead 69 people at a Labour Party youth camp after setting off a bomb in Oslo. One of the film’s protagonists was there.
The Council of Europe last week released a report criticizing the Czech Republic for the way it treats people with mental disabilities. The criticism targeting the living conditions and rights of this most vulnerable segment of the population is not the first of its kind. The Czech authorities have previously come under fire for using caged beds in mental institutions. On a fact-finding visit to the Czech Republic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks went further, arguing that many of the patients in mental institutions
Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez arrived in the Czech Republic this week on what is her first trip abroad since Cuba’s communist authorities partially lifted restrictions on travelling. Ms Sanchez, best known for her acclaimed blog Generation Y, is attending the One World festival of human rights documentaries in the Czech capital.
The 2013 One World festival of human rights documentaries kicks off in Prague on Monday. Over a week and a half, this year’s festival, the 15th, will present more than 100 films on subjects ranging from the international hackers group Anonymous to acid attacks on women in Pakistan to a homeless New Yorker who’s become friends with top film stars. The theme of this year’s One World is tolerance and intolerance; festival director Hana Kulhánková told me why.
The maker of a miniseries on the 1969 death of Jan Palach and its aftermath has hit back at statements made about him by a former head of the Communist Party. Polish director Agnieska Holland told the new website iDnes.cz that making Palach out to be a Communist represented an abuse of his legacy. On Friday, hard-line Communist Miroslav Grebeníček said Palach had acted out of sympathy for the reform Communists defeated by the Soviet-led invasion of August 1968, adding that claiming he had become a symbol of the struggle against totalitarian Communism was completely misleading. He made the comments during a debate prior to a vote that made January 16, the anniversary of Palach’s self-immolation, a day honouring his memory. Ms. Holland – whose three-part Burning Bush is currently being screened – said the student’s actual aim had been to spark resistance to Communist rule. The Oscar-nominated director, who is 64, studied at Prague’s FAMU film school and was herself involved in anti-regime activities around the time of Palach’s death.
The traditional nation-wide Three Kings collection drive organized by the non-profit organization Charita Czech Republic, brought in a record amount of donations this year. The drive that is held annually on the occasion of the Christian holiday of the Magi, or the Three Kings in Czech, celebrated on January 6, brought in almost 77 million crowns, which is 1.6 million more than last year. Around 50,000 volunteers collected money for the two weeks surrounding the holiday dressed as the three kings and singing carols. This was the thirteenth year of the drive, and the donated money will go to projects and organizations that help the physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged persons.
According to a new survey by the STEM polling agency, 46 percent of Czechs
(down from 53 percent a year ago) say the current democratic system is
better than the former Communist regime in Czechoslovakia before 1989.
One-third survey said the opposite was true, while 22 percent said the two
systems measured up almost the same. STEM has run the poll annually since
1992. That year, the highest number – 69 percent – said they said the
current system was better. More than 1,100 people over the age of 18 took
part in the survey which was conducted from January 4-11.
Rainy weather is expected in the coming days, with temperatures due to reach up to 6 degrees Celsius.
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