At Prague Festival, Movies with a Conscience

The New York Times

Many people head to the cinema for a couple of hours of escapism. Organizers of the annual One World Documentary Film Festival, held in Prague this year from March 8 to 17, hope their audiences have somewhat different expectations.

One World, now in its 13th year, was founded by People in Need, a local aid and human rights charity. The festival’s aim is to bring to Czech audiences the reality of the world around them from places like Myanmar, Cuba and Belarus.

“We want people to be more aware of the fact that if they play a more active role in civil society then they take an important step towards becoming part of the solution, rather than simply hardening themselves to the fact that such problems exist,” said Scott Hudson, one of the festival’s programmers.

“At the same time, One World has tried to balance the intense content of these films with the best examples of documentary filmmaking,” he added, “which has allowed the festival to become a platform where human rights activists, policy makers, directors, film lovers, and young people can come together and discuss the number of global challenges that the world is wrestling with these days.”

Under the theme “Your Energy Is Needed Elsewhere,” organizers have chosen films that demonstrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Some of the highlights, Mr. Hudson said, will be “The Position Under the Stars,” a film about the effects of globalization through the eyes of an Indonesian family; “The Pipe,” about an Irish community’s attempts to stop a natural gas pipeline from being built; and “The Green Wave,” which chronicles the Green Movement that arose in Iran following the 2009 elections.

One World also organizes an accompanying program: typically each film has a supplementary element, and this year there will be more than 20 panel discussions and 35 Q & A’s with directors. During the festival, People in Need presents the annual Homo Homini Award to individuals in recognition of their dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts.

More than 100 films from 40 countries will be screened during the festival at seven different venues. Tickets went on sale yesterday.