One World introduces non-competitive categories

This year's One World will not only include its traditional competitive sections but will also introduce 7 non-competitive categories that group films by theme into sections. And those sections are: Identities, Structures of Power, The Middle East, Ecosystems, Searching for Freedom, On the Edge of Maturity, and Communities. These sections will also include something completely new for the festival – fictional films that feature human rights themes.

Structures of Power and The Middle East

Structures of Power category will delve into the strengths and limitations of the law, issues with justice, and the pursuit of truth. For instance, viewers will be introduced to the full-length feature film debut Abang and Adik by Malaysian director Lay Jin Ong, which depicts the lives of two orphans facing hardship in Kuala Lumpur. Historian Yuri Dmitriev ventures into the Russian forests to unearth hidden truths. The documentary The Dmitriev Affair by director Jessica Gorter recounts the determined effort to find evidence of the horrors of Stalinist terror despite powerful resistance from the state.

In the realm of show business, the film Sorry/Not Sorry in the Identities category poses an interesting question: What matters more, justice or the audience? Directors Cara Mones and Caroline Suh reflect on the case of stand-up comedian Louis C.K., accused of a series of sexual assaults, and its impact on those who publicly spoke out about his behaviour. Taking a different perspective, the fictional film Slow by director Marija Kavtaradzė, recognised at the Sundance Festival, delves into identities. Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas form a strong mutual bond full of intimacy and deeper connection.

This year will see a dedicated thematic category focused on The Middle East. It will feature, among others, the film Mourning in Lod by director Hilla Medalia, which follows the fates of families embroiled in the ongoing cycle of violence in the city of Lod, where Israelis and Palestinians coexist. Beyond facing an unstable political and economic situation, the film The Burdened in the same category portrays the pressure from conservative surroundings.

The last journalists in Mariupol, on the edge of maturity, and a sinking island

Following the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov, alongside the crew from the Associated Press (AP), stayed put in the besieged city of Mariupol. As the last team of journalists on the ground, they shared firsthand accounts of war crimes that would later make global headlines. The documentary 20 Days in Mariupol in the Searching for Freedom category will not only reveal what goes on behind the scenes of war journalism but also shed light on the ill-fated stories of ordinary people in the midst of war. The team was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2023 for their coverage from the besieged city.

The film Manifesto, which is attributed to an anonymous creative collective using the pseudonym Angie Vinchito, will reveal a dark mosaic of often startling videos released by Russian teenagers on social media. Featured in the thematic category On the Edge of Maturity, the film, clip by clip, illustrates how aggression and oppression can unknowingly pass on to the next generation.

Directed by Juan Palacios and featured in the Ecosystems section, the film As the Tide Comes In takes us on a journey to the secluded, Danish island of Mandø. Despite concerns about rising sea levels and climate change, a handful of local residents navigate their everyday lives with all that it entails – be it celebrating a 100th birthday or signing up to compete on the TV game show Farmer Wants a Wife. In the same section, the festival will showcase the film The Buriti Flower by directorial duo Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza, breathing life into the tumultuous history of the indigenous Brazilian Krahô tribe that resides in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

How does one stay creative under an oppressive regime? Director San San F. Young offers one possible answer in her documentary, Hong Kong Mixtape, featured in this year’s Communities section.