Ji.hlava IDFF

The idea to create an event known under its present title – Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival – was conceived in the minds of a group of Jihlava high school students in 1997. And because words soon became reality, each autumn the Ji.hlava IDFF brought together dozens and later hundreds and thousands of viewers, directors, producers, film critics, journalists, friends and family of documentary cinema to spend several days “thinking through film”. Today, almost 25 years later, we can proudly claim that this celebration of creative documentary cinema has long been recognised as the largest event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe.


Each edition of the festival, the organisers led from the start by the present director Marek Hovorka introduced new and additional projects and features expanding on the documentary reflections and experiences of festival-goers, filmmakers, and producers alike. However, we are striving to make both sides of this documentary equation straight in order to always end up in the black. In 2000, the first Czech Joy award for the Best Czech Documentary Film was granted, together with awards for the Best Documentary Central and Eastern European Documentary Film in the Between the Seas section and the Best World Documentary Film – the ultimate festival title – in the Opus Bonum section. Today, the core of the festival programme consists of 7 competition sections: among the Ji.hlava IDFF’s competition sections are also the First Lights for documentary debuts, and Short Joy for the best short docs. But the festival does not shy away from unconventional documentary forms included as part of the experimental sections called Fascinations (international competition) and Exprmntl.cz (Czech focus).

The Ji.hlava IDFF also provides the best care to film professionals because each film included in the programme has a long way to go and faces many obstacles before hitting the festival screen. Hence, the Ji.hlava Industry Programme intended for professional filmmakers has for sixteen years played a crucial role as part of the festival events. The Emerging Producers project represents a showcase of the up-and-coming generation of European producers. The Inspiration Forum is a platform that hosts distinctive figures from various walks of life which searches for new relevant topics and perspectives of our day and age.

Festival Identity brings together festival organisers and programmers from all across the globe and the East Silver market organised by the Ji.hlava IDFF in conjunction with the IDF annually provides an overview of the latest documentary works from Central and Eastern Europe. Conference Fascinations further underscores the importance of experimental cinema as part of Ji.hlava IDFF’s festival programme, discussing its production potential and distribution possibilities across continents. Aside from that, the Ji.hlava IDFF annually brings to the Karlovy Vary IFF filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe to join the Docu Talents platform that enables them to present their upcoming works for the first time to the filmmaking world.

However, the Ji.hlava IDFF is not only an annual festival showcase. Each year, the Echoes of JIDFF reverberate various parts of Europe, and film fans in Prague and Jihlava can tune in to the late summer documentary vibes of the Living Cinema. A critical reflection on documentary filmmaking is also the focus of the printed and online version of our dok.revue journal, complemented with numerous specialised publications the preparation of which was initiated by the festival. The Ji.hlava IDFF also stood at the cradle of the Center for Documentary Film in Jihlava, a space for concentrated research as well as multifaceted exploration of documentary cinema on several levels – including a book and video library as well as other research sources.


Each submitted film has to comply with the following conditions:

  • Properly completed form and timely updates in case of any changes.
  • Payment of 20 € as a submission fee.
  • Providing an online preview. In the case of failure to provide a film preview, the submission will be considered invalid.
  • Films produced in Eastern and Central Europe are also automatically submitted to the East Silver Market.
  • By submitting this material you agree with the festival’s submission Guidelines and Conditions.


We accept submissions of:

  • Documentary films
  • Experimental films
  • Animation films or hybrid projects
  • Different TV and film formats based on reality
  • Virtual reality projects
  • Documentary and educational computer games
  • Interactive web documentary projects


Film submission deadlines:

  • March 31, 2021 | films released in 2020
  • May 31, 2021 | films completed in 2021 and released by May 31, 2021
  • July 31, 2021 | rough cuts and films that have so far not had a festival world premiere


Despite our deadlines, we would kindly ask you to submit your films continuously throughout the whole period starting February 15, 2021.


Opus Bonum – Best World Documentary Film

Between the Seas  – Best Central and East European Documentary Film 

Between the Seas  (student film competition) – Best Central and East European Student Documentary Film 

Czech Joy – Best Czech Documentary Film 

First Lights – Best Feature-Length Documentary Debut Film 

Fascinations – Best Experimental Documentary Film 

Fascinations: Exprmntl.cz – Best Czech Experimental Documentary Film

Short Joy – Best Short Documentary Film 

Testimonies – Best Film Testimony

Contribution to World Cinema Award

The Audience Award

The Best Festival Poster Award

Silver Eye Award – feature length category (awarded by the Institute of Documentary Film)

Silver Eye Award – short documentary (awarded by the Institute of Documentary Film)


With over 1,000 film professionals attending Ji.hlava IDFF every year, the event is an important meeting place for the world documentary industry, and the largest one in Central and Eastern Europe.

The industry program includes:

  • Open Ji.hlava Industry Program – Masterclasses, case studies, presentations and panel discussions
  • Matchmaking Accelerator – Set up your one-to-one meetings with film industry experts
  • Emerging Producers – Presentation of participants of 9th edition of the project presenting the future generation of European documentary film producers
  • Festival Hub – Presentation of festivals and markets in the format of PechaKucha
  • Czech Joy in the Spotlight – Presentation of brand new Czech films from the festival competition section Czech Joy
  • Doc.stream – Pitchings of works in progress coming from Norway, Poland and the Czech Republic
  • Co-productions That Inspire – Success stories presented by producers from Central and Eastern Europe
  • Conference Fascinations – Meeting of experimental documentary film distributors, gallerists and festival representatives
  • Film Distribution Today – Discussion of distributors from Visegrad countries about current opportunities and challenges
  • New Cinema– Presentation of cinema operators in the Czech Republic (in Czech only)
  • What Are International Buyers Looking for? – Presentation on the changing landscape of film distribution
  • Festival Identity – Festival representatives sharing outcomes from their discussions on topics such as ethics, funding and activism
  • Happy Hours with the Czech Film Fund Council – Discussion Platform with Members of the Czech Film Fund Council


The idea for Center for Documentary Film emerged during the preparations for Jihlava’s Dukla Cinema – the current headquarters of this new, and in a Czech context, unique institution focusing on education and self-education through film. The project follows up on the long-term education and publication activities of Ji.hlava IDFF, aimed at promoting reflection on film art and offering insights into filmmaking and its contexts. It provides a space for concentrated research as well as multifaceted exploration of documentary cinema on several levels. Since its opening on October 23, 2014, the Center for Documentary Film services have been fully available to all visitors.

Media & Documentary

Media and Documentary is a seminar on creative writing intended for students of journalism, film studies and other humanities and social sciences, which will be held for the fourteenth time this year within the International Documentary Film Festival Ji.hlava.