Undercover in Tibet, one of over 120 films at this year’s One World festival, features the testimonies of victims of Chinese repression, including a Tibetan monk who describes being tortured, a woman forced to undergo sterilisation and former nomads made to live in isolated compounds. Those interviews were secretly recorded by Tash Despa, who escaped from Tibet in his late teens and returned, on a UK passport, a decade later. Ahead of a screening of the documentary, I asked Tash Despa how much danger he had been in while filming in the tightly
The film Voices from El-Sayed, currently being shown in the One World festival, focuses on a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Israel which has the highest concentration of deaf people in the world. Over the generations a unique sign language has evolved in El-Sayed, where deafness is so common it is not regarded as a handicap. The film’s director Oded Adomi Leshem told me why so many people in the village are deaf.
For four decades, the countries trapped behind the Iron Curtain attracted only a few travellers from the West. Our guest in this week’s edition of One on One is the American writer, scholar and photographer Ruth Ellen Gruber, whose reporting career brought her to the communist block in the 1970s. She spent time in Belgrade and Warsaw, among other places, and after the fall of communism, she stayed in Europe and became a leading scholar on eastern European Jewish heritage – and the region’s country music.
If you live in Prague, it is quite likely that you will have encountered Jaroslav Rudiš as a rock musician, performing with gloom and late ‘70s angst with Jaromír 99 and the Bombers or his own band U-Bahn. Novelist, playwright, screenplay writer and musician, Rudiš is a man of many talents, and in recent years he has acquired something of a cult following on the Czech literary scene. If you want to know a bit more about Jaroslav, a good place to start is with his Facebook or MySpace profile: there you’ll find out that he’s straight, going on 37,
Unable to get permission to film there, the young Czech documentary maker Linda Jablonská took a different approach after learning that tourists are allowed to bring video cameras below a certain size into North Korea. She and her team joined an officially sanctioned Czech tour group, recording the reactions of members of the party to conditions in the tightly controlled country. Welcome to North Korea! is one of a number of Czech films being shown at One World – and indeed was directly inspired by an encounter at the festival of human rights
The One World festival was launched in Prague on Wednesday night with a powerful documentary called Burma VJ, highlighting the work of brave journalists who secretly film human rights abuses in the country. With foreign media banned, theirs was the only footage of the turmoil in Burma during the huge protests of 2007 that became known as the Saffron Revolution.
A decade after it was launched, the One World (Jeden Svět) festival of human rights documentaries has become one of the most exciting events in Czech culture. Organisers say it has also become the biggest and most important event of its kind in Europe. One World 2009 turns the spotlight on the two decades since the fall of communism, with Václav Havel no less appearing in the festival trailer.
The sci-fi action thriller Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, and shot largely in the Czech Republic, received a nomination for Best Sound Mixing at this year’s Academy Awards. Czech soundman Petr Forejt - a veteran on numerous international projects – was part of the team, and although the film didn’t take the Oscar in the end, even a nomination is considered a major success. This Friday Jan Velinger spoke to Petr Forejt in Radio Prague’s studio, asking what it was like to work on Wanted as well as his first reaction when he learned he was an Oscar
Recent statistics revealed that every tenth inhabitant in the Czech capital is a foreigner. Ever since the fall of communism, the English-speaking community has been one of the strongest parts of the city’s cosmopolitan culture. This week, Christian Falvey visited the Prague Playwriting Contest, which has become a staple event of that community’s cultural calendar.