Enemies of the People, one of over 100 films being screened at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, follows the journalist Thet Sambath as he tracks down and speaks to former members of the Khmer Rouge in his native Cambodia. The result is a series of groundbreaking interviews, including one with Pol Pot’s one-time right-hand man, Nuon Chea. The film’s co-director Rob Lemkin told me about Thet Sambath and his remarkable journey.
War and Love in Kabul, which is being screened at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, tells the Romeo and Juliet-like story of a couple who have loved one another since childhood but are prevented from living together because of social and religious conventions. Hossein has been left crippled after being recruited by the Taliban, while Shaima was sold into marriage to a man 40 years her senior. I spoke to the director of War and Love in Kabul, Helga Reidemeister, and first asked how she had ever found the subjects of
Mugabe and the White African, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, follows Michael Campbell, one of the few white farmers left in Zimbabwe after years of land seizures, as he takes the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe to court at the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Campbell wins his legal battle against the dictator, but at great cost to himself and his family. I spoke to one of the directors of Mugabe and the White African, Lucy Bailey.
The Irish poet Justin Quinn has been living in the Czech Republic for close to two decades. His latest collection of poetry, “Waves and Trees” has been translated into Czech, and he himself has also translated the work of Czech poets, such as Petr Borkovec, into English. I talked to Justin Quinn about translating poetry and how living away from his native country has affected the poetry he writes.
All that Glitters by Tomáš Kudrna is the only Czech film in the main competition at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague. The film is about what happens when Western investors take over a gold mine in a town in the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan which is also threatened by environmental disaster. I spoke to the director of All that Glitters ahead of its world premiere on Saturday.
Arnošt Lustig, one of the Czech Republic’s literary greats, has been giving salespeople a helping hand this week. Although still weak from an ongoing battle with cancer, Mr. Lustig put a smile on his face and spent a week behind the sales desk at the Franz Kafka book shop in Prague, attracting crowds of people who came to buy an autographed book and wish him well.
Artist Zdeněk Sýkora, who turned 90 last month, is without question one of the Czech Republic’s most important painters, whose style over his long career developed from traditional landscapes to the abstract line paintings for which he is certainly best known. A retrospective of some of the artist’s best work – including Line No. 24 on loan from Centre Pompidou in Paris – is currently underway at Prague’s Municipal Library, a highly-respected gallery space within the city centre.
The film Taqwacore, which is being screened in the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, focuses on young American Muslims who have embraced rebellious punk rock music, leading to disapproval from some in their community. I spoke to its director Omar Majeed, who is himself Pakistani-Canadian, and began by asking about the origins of the style described in the film as “punk Islam.”
The 12th One World (Jeden Svět) festival of human rights documentaries gets underway in Prague on Wednesday evening. Over eight days it will screen 101 films from 30 states around the world, while around 100 directors and human rights advocates are expected to attend. Every year One World chooses particular issues to highlight; on the eve of the festival, its new director Hana Kulhánková told me about this year’s focus.
The National Theatre in Prague is hosting a gala performance in honour of the world-renowned Czech ballet dancer Daria Klimentová, who is celebrating twenty years on stage. Born here in the Czech Republic, she has been a prima ballerina at the prestigious English National Ballet in London for the last thirteen years. On Wednesday night, the National Theatre will be the venue of her 1000th stage appearance. I spoke to the dancer just before her rehearsal for tonight’s event: