28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Alchemical Furnace
Alchemical Furnace
Alchemical Furnace
Alchemical Furnace
Alchemical Furnace

Alchemical Furnace

director: Jan Daňhel, Adam Oľha
original title: Alchymická pec
country: Czech Republic, Slovakia
year: 2020
running time: 118 min.


After he finished shooting his last feature-length film Insects, Jan Švankmajer became the protagonist of a film himself. His creative method is partially revealed by Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha, who spent three years with the internationally acknowledged filmmaker, graphic artist and unorthodox thinker. This allowed them to capture specific situations as well as the artist’s general thoughts on food, fetishes, and the end of both humankind and Western civilization. This playful, associative and tactile portrait, whose fluctuating form provides an outline of various options, is supplemented with the perspectives of friends and colleagues, chiefly Jaromír Kallista, the producer of Švankmajer’s films. The artist’s wife and muse Eva is shown throughout the film through memories, dreams and archive footage.
“We wanted to create a formally independent film that does not copy Švankmajer’s signature style. Just as in alchemy, we based our work on three mutually interconnected principles. Specifically these were Jan Švankmajer, Jaromír Kallista and Eva Švankmajerová. Another very important element was the Surrealist Group, which is Švankmajer’s second family.” A. Oľha

Q&A with the filmmakers Adam Ol'ha and Jan Daňhel:


Jan Daňhel (b. 1971) studied film editing at FAMU, where he is now a lecturer. He is a photographer and a member of the Group of Czech and Slovak Surrealists, and has edited many films, including Švankmajer’s Insects (2018).
Cinematographer, documentary filmmaker and photographer Adam Oľha (b. 1984) studied at FAMU’s Faculty of Documentary Film. He received the Audience Award for his family portrait entitled New Life of a Family Album (2012) at the Ji.hlava Film Festival. He was also involved in making the documentary series Czech Photo, Arsenal, and Hospital on the Front Line. He also collaborated as cinematographer for Insects.

more about film

director: Jan Daňhel, Adam Oľha
producer: Jaromír Kallista, Zuzana Mistríková, Ľubica Orechovská
photography: Jan Daňhel, Adam Oľha, Jakub Halousek
editing: Jan Daňhel
sound: Ivo Špalj, Tobiáš Potočný
Ministerstvo kultury
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