The Winning Films of the 59th Academia Film Olomouc: The Documentary Elite in Popularizing Science

27. 4. 2024

AFO traditionally hands out awards in four competition categories – The International Competition, The Czech & Slovak Competition, The Short Film Competition and The Palacký University Student Jury Award. It also announces The AFO Audience Award, supported by Czech Television. Here are the winning films for this year!

The Jury of International Competition decided to give out both the main award and The Honorable Mention. That one goes to Hunt for the Oldest DNA. The documentary examining the fascinating genetic information which might help us reveal the secret of our past and present, is a modern popularizing film full of visual innovations enlivening the formal aspect of the film. The main award goes to Woodpeckers: The Hole Story. The research of the importance of woodpeckers in the global context is an extraordinarily colorful experience, which shows the possibilities of the contemporary wildlife documentary in all its glory.

Two films were also awarded in the Czech & Slovak Competition. The Honorable Mention was awarded to the progressive, almost experimental film Notes from Eremocene, made by one of the most interesting contemporary Slovak filmmakers Viera Čákanyová. In the film, conceived as a message from the future addressed to the current generation, she debates with her virtual future self about all we did wrong as a humanity, and how we can learn from it. The Award for the Best Czech & Slovak Science Documentary Film was won by the playful global home essay The World According to My Dad by director Marta Kovářová. The documentary follows her father, the scientist Jiří Svoboda, who tries to establish the concept of global carbon tax. She enriches this environmental topic with playful songs and intergenerational dialogue relatable to a majority of the audience.

Two films can celebrate in the Short Film Competition too. The progressive videogame short film Hardly Working deserved The Honorable Mention. It focuses on NPCs, or non-playable characters, in video games, whom the players consider to be an obvious necessity and the filler of virtual worlds. Here the NPCs are in the limelight. The Best Science Documentary Short Film Award goes to Getty abortions. This analysis of media image of people who have experience with abortion focuses on various media sources both from the past and present, and with insight considers, what the media representation of this topic looks like and what it communicates.

Then there are the films awarded by The Palacký University Student Jury. The Honorable Mention goes to the competing film Let’s Talk About Sex – A Century of Sex Education. The film opens the important topic of the stigmatization of sex in child rearing and education, and considers how far we’ve progressed since the 20th century and how we can advance further. The winning film captivated the student jury with its fascinating storytelling and unconventional approach to scientific inquiry. It tells the story of an individual, whose determination and perseverance unveiled a lost world from the past, and captured their complete attention. The conclusion brings dramatic twists and opens a path to understanding a distant past with significant implications for the present day. The Palacky University Student Jury Award winner is Hunt for the Oldest DNA.

Hunt for the Oldest DNA, directed by Niobe Thompson, has been honored with two prestigious awards at the 59th Academia Film Olomouc, underscoring its exceptional quality. The documentary captivated our esteemed audience to win the AFO Audience Award, supported by Czech Television. These accolades celebrate the film’s clarity and impactful storytelling, marking its triumphant success.

And finally, the prize for extraordinary contribution to the communication of science is awarded by AFO to an institution that has been shaping and enriching the world’s understanding of complex systems for more than three decades – the Santa Fe Institute. Since its establishment in 1984, the Santa Fe Institute has been dedicated to interdisciplinary research that transcends traditional academic boundaries. It connects diverse fields of knowledge, from biology and physics to economics, social sciences and art. The Institute consistently demonstrates the importance of integrating diverse insights and emphasizes that this ability is crucial for understanding complex phenomena.

This evening, the Santa Fe Institute is receiving this award for its efforts in making science more comprehensible and widely appreciated. We believe that the institute will continue to contribute to the development and sharing of knowledge that helps us all better understand the world in which we live.