Belarus Documentary ‘Flowers Are Not Silent' to Open Ji.hlava Film Festival; Oliver Stone to Deliver Masterclass

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Belarus Documentary ‘Flowers Are Not Silent’ to Open Ji.hlava Film Festival; Oliver Stone to Deliver Masterclass
© Courtesy of Andrei Kutsila

“Flowers Are Not Silent,” a film about the brutal suppression of demonstrations against last year’s rigged presidential election in Belarus, will open the 25th Ji.hlava Intl. Documentary Film Festival on Tuesday. Oliver Stone will deliver a masterclass at the festival as will Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky.

Festival chief Marek Hovorka said that “Flowers Are Not Silent,” which plays in the main international competition section, Opus Bonum, is “a brave testimony of the state’s violent repression against peaceful protests.” He added: “It shows how brutally this last European dictatorship resists the transformation of Belarus into a freer society.” The film’s Belarusian director, Andrei Kutsila, will attend the screening.

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The festival’s Contribution to World Cinema Award will be presented to Czech director Jana Ševčíková, whose films have been shown at festivals in Berlin, Rotterdam, Paris, Nyon and Leipzig, among others, and screened at MOMA in the U.S. Ševčíková won the Audience Award at Ji.hlava for “The Rite of Spring” (2002).

Hovorka said Ševčíková had always been “ahead of her time.” He added: “Her deep empathy, dedication to the film genre, liveliness and authentic humanism run through her entire film work.” Her 2001 film “Old Believers” will screen at Ji.hlava.

In his masterclass, Stone will talk about his new film, “JFK Revisited,” in which he goes back not only to the assassination of President Kennedy but also to his 1991 feature film “JFK.” “Kennedy’s murder was motivated by change: Kennedy was changing things. If he had succeeded, we would have been in a very different place today,” said Stone at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

In his masterclass, Mansky, whose film “Gorbachev. Heaven” will play in the Testimonies section of Ji.hlava, will speak about his creative approach. “I wanted to look behind the cold marble and see a man who decided to make the world a better place,” Mansky said.

The winner in the Opus Bonum section will be selected by a six-member jury composed of Syrian writer and filmmaker Orwa Al Mokdad, Romanian producer Anamaria Antoci, Czech-Japanese documentary filmmaker Haruna Honcoop, Dutch film critic Sofie Cato Maas, Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu, and Mexican festival programmer and distributor Pedro Emilio Segura Bernal.

The Czech Joy awards will be in the hands of last year’s winner, documentarian Jindřich Andrš, with director and cinematographer Tomáš Klein, film and theater music composer Jakub Kudláč, Slovak editor and musician Monika Omerzu Midriaková, Czech art theorist Tomáš Pospiszyl, and Jihlava native and collaborator of the Czech Center in Paris Marie Sýkorová.

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