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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Central Bus Station
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Central Bus Station
Central Bus Station
Central Bus Station
Central Bus Station

Central Bus Station

director: Tomáš Elšík
original title: Central Bus Station
country: Czech Republic
year: 2018
running time: 75 min.

synopsis

Only recently, Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station was still the largest in the world. But this oversized space only serves more than its original purpose to bring in masses of people who, confused by its complicated interior design, succumb to shopping fever. Over time this concrete monster, which won’t be easy to tear down, has become a temporary refuge for people on the margins of society – refugees, criminals, prostitutes. Like its main protagonist, the tourist guide Yonatan, the film’s director is fascinated by one of the wonders of the world of redundancy and the microcosm of the people who live here.

“To me, the Central Bus Station is not only a strange place, but also a place where everyone can find a kind of home.” T. Elšík

biography

Tomáš Elšík (1986) originally graduated from FAMO in Písek and then studied editing at FAMU. His medium-length documentary Message from Dement (2012) about the punk and anti-fascist scene in São Paulo won an award at FAMUfest. He has also worked as an editor on several film and television projects, including director Kristina Nedvědová’s upcoming film Snowing!

more about film

director: Tomáš Elšík
producer: Jitka Kotrlová, Ondřej Šejnoha, Petr Novák, Michal Mocňák
script: Tomáš Elšík
photography: Ondřej Belica, Tomáš Elšík
editing: Mariana Kozáková
sound: Dominik Dolejší

other films in the section

Milda
As the main representative of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Milouš Jakeš was the most powerful man in the country. At ninety years old, he still evokes strong reactions in society today. The director joins Jakeš on a look back at his life, from his beginnings at the Baťa Works until his final expulsion from the party. The film is interspersed with period footage of anti-government protests being put down, and the former general secretary is also confronted with former dissidents or their descendants. This documentary portrait shows an almost ascetic old man with firm convictions regarding the rightness of the old order, which suited his austere nature.“Alone like an abandoned dog.” P. Křemen

Milda

Pavel Křemen
Czech Republic / 2017 / 70 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Czechs against Czechs
This cinematic reportage with elements of a personal journal explores xenophobia in Czech society and anti-Nazi activists, but also the filmmaker’s personal experience from living among in an socially excluded Romani neighborhood. Most of the footage was shot by the director using his own camera, and the immediacy of the images is further accentuated by voiceover observations and commentary. In just a few scenes, he adds music for dramatic affect. With his direct questions, he tries to unmask the racist arguments not only of anti-Roma protestors, but also of many ordinary citizens. DETAIL:“I’d toss a grenade in there.” “In where?” “Among the gypsies. They reproduce like rats.” “They should be killed?” “Yes. You know what Hitler should have done? Leave the Jews and shoot the gypsies. There’s too many of them.”

Czechs against Czechs

Tomáš Kratochvíl
Czech Republic / 2015 / 88 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
On the Water
This documentary essay, containing certain elements of a road movie, traces the journey of several individuals during their trek through the foothills of the Ore Mountains. Its aim is to capture an image of the unstable terrain of the area, which is the result of decades of mining and the subsequent (un)successful reclamation activities. The title may be considered as the literal designation of their river adventure as well as a reference to the changeable nature of the landscape. This film, balancing on a fine line between documentary and fiction, appeals to the viewer’s imagination and lets the landscape itself tell the story of this devastated and later revitalised area of the Northern Bohemia Region.DETAIL:“It is a landscape in the midst of a transformation of sorts. Everything’s changing. There was a chemical factory over there; now it’s gone. The chemical factory over there used to be a meadow. Things change by the second. It has to be recorded.”

On the Water

Martin Ryšavý
Czech Republic / 2015 / 90 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Perpetrator and the Bystander
This half-hour film consists of private video footage shot by theater artist Petr Lébl in 1996 while working on a production of Cyrano de Bergerac as a guest director at the national theatre in Tel Aviv. For most of the film, we see Lébl and costume designer Kateřina Štefková in a hotel room, although on the margins of their banter we encounter Lébl’s more skeptical observations directed at the camera. This seemingly banal home video of two close people breaks down the boundary between the personal and the public, between life and performance. Both continue to act in front of the camera, even though the film was not meant for the public. DETAIL:Mission Impossible – with Kateřina. Beware of Kateřina: Her raw commentaries are meant to drive you mad. Don’t let yourself be fooled: There is no point in repeating to her that I respect her. Better to act with that knowledge in your heart.

The Perpetrator and the Bystander

Jan Kačena, Nikola Krutilová
Czech Republic / 2015 / 34 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Helena's Law
Documentary filmmaker Petra Nesvačilová’s study of the famous “Berdych Gang” focuses on police officer Helena Kahnová, but she also interviews other actors in the case, including the accused and the convicted. The resulting film is a mosaic that says less about the case or its background than it does about the people who exist on the edge of the law, and about their thoughts and motivations. Nesvačilová herself comes into contact with the criminal underworld and becomes an actor in her own film. She must decide whether it is safe to meet certain people, which leads her to consider questions related to the essence of crime and of good and evil in general.“I thought I was shooting a portrait of a brave police woman, but in the end I found myself in places that I had always been afraid of and that I only knew from the movies. The underworld. And now I see that this underworld is all around us – sometimes very, very close.”

Helena's Law

Petra Nesvačilová
Czech Republic / 2016 / 80 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Way the President Departs
The compilation documentary The Way the President Departstakes us back to the events surrounding the presidential elections in Czechoslovakia in 1992 that led to the dissolution of the federal republic. The film, which uses clips from Czechoslovak Television and Original Videojournal, focuses on the first elections, in which the sole candidate was Václav Havel. It is Havel himself who is the focus of the film. We see primarily his immediate reactions to the changing situation around the elections, whether those intended for the public or expressed within his circle of advisors. In addition to observations of an important Czech politician, the film evokes public life in the 1990s.“I am sure that for today’s audiences, this behind-the-scenes look at politics will be interesting and stimulating, and they will be surprised at how dramatically the political scene has changed.”

The Way the President Departs

Pavel Kačírek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 51 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Viva Video, Video Viva
Today, analogue video is attractive primarily thanks to the distinctive aesthetic quality of its pixelated image and raster errors. But for Czech artists who first explored the possibilities offered by video art in the late 1980s, this medium represented a path towards freedom. Through a portrait of her grandfather Radek Pilař, one of the pioneers of Czech video art, the director explores her own legacy of imperative creative fascination. Her film’s main story, i.e., the process of reconstructing the 1989 exhibition Video Day, contrasts this enchantment with life in the final days of the totalitarian regime, which different sharply with the adventures of those who decided to emigrate – whom the filmmaker also visits in order to discover forgotten works, get to know their creators, and re-establish broken ties.  “’The computers, which are here with me, quietly tell me they want me to understand them, to live with them. Because we will live with them. But either they’re devils, or they will be gods.’ Radek Pilař.” A. Komrzý
personal program

Viva Video, Video Viva

Adéla Komrzý
Czech Republic / 2018 / 85 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Dying for Beginners / The Key of Silence
The joint title Dying for beginners brings together two short films that the directors shot together “in hospices, maternity wards, trains, and elsewhere.” They are based on interviews with the same protagonists and about similar subjects, but always as seen from a different angle. The first film, Marek Bouda’s The key of silence explores music and its relationship to old age and death. For instance, it asks what music we can hear in heaven or what music to play after our passing. In Dying for beginners, Bára Kopecká looks at the taboo subject of death in crematoria, among the dying, or in the maternity ward. “I was interested primarily in how music is reflected in the face of the listener when he is moved by it. And silence – the counterpoint to music, a pause in the composition, the end of life... the silence that remains after we are gone...” B. Kopecká

Dying for Beginners / The Key of Silence

Marek Bouda, Bára Kopecká
Czech Republic / 2017 / 58 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Excursion or History of the Present (English version)
The creators of the documentary essay Excursions visit several typical tourist attractions – the Aurora battleship, the monumental buildings of the Third Reich, the Berlin Wall, and the world’s first museum in Rome. Their interest is not so much in these places as it is in different ways of encountering history. With a subtle sense of irony, they explore how historical monuments influence guidebooks and visitors. We hear guides’ explanations, interviews, memories, and reenactments with tourists playing various roles. The film uses their interactions with these stages of history to engage in a sophisticated exploration of the relationship between contemporary man and the past.DETAIL:“In the Jewish cemetery in Berlin there is a grave with an inscription: ‘Now you are here, watching silently. When you leave, go and talk.’ We behave like this in front of the monuments – we are silent.”

Excursion or History of the Present (English version)

Jan Gogola ml.
Czech Republic / 2015 / 82 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Dunaj of Consciousness
Members of the Brno alternative rock legend Dunaj (Danube) meet after several years, determined to forget their grievances and disagreements of the past to perform a concert in the Romanian city of Banat, where they still have a strong fan base. On the way there, they take a boat down the Danube River, whose waves and mysterious nature evokes memories of the past among the band members and reflections on their careers, helped out by a meeting with former member Iva Bittová. The poetically infused film reveals the backstage of the band and, accompanied by the captivating tones of Dunaj’s songs, paints a complex portrait of the legendary music group. “Former members of the Dunaj band, now twenty years older, meet to find out they don’t have to do anything. They just want to let something special flourish, something created mainly by their being together. All the original pieces come together to create something compellingly impressive again.” D. Butula
personal program

Dunaj of Consciousness

David Butula
Czech Republic / 2019 / 83 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Buttons of Consciousness
A meditative film explores the effects that examining consciousness and a microscopic view of one’s inner self have on the rationalism that scientists are expected to have. Even though each has a different approach, a physicist and an economist have similar, indescribable experiences, which they can only show through ‘reflections’. Efforts to change a flat map into an actual landscape lead to an unaffected re-examination of the foundations of our society, in which the myth of objectivity often covers up the manipulation of the powers-that-be, and the desire for deeper knowledge may be the driving force for the military industrial complex just as much as for getting a degree.DETAIL:“The science can’t describe the way a person who cools off in this water at the end of a hot day feels or the paradox of the icicle, but it can describe the chemical composition of the icicle, the water temperature, the humidity, and so forth.” “And is that good for anything?” “But certainly… ”

Buttons of Consciousness

Jan Šípek
Czech Republic / 2015 / 87 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Non-Parent
With her documentary study of the current form of the family, the director follows up on her earlier film Generation Singles. By looking at six different stories, she presents various views and opinions regarding partnership and parenthood – what does shared custody look like, how does a single parent raise children and how do lesbians? How do patchwork families function, how is it with adopted kids and how is it with people who have decided to never have any at all? In intimate on-camera interviews, the participants explain their decisions, however voluntary, and reflect on the causes and consequences of their (non-)functioning families or partnerships. “Changes in the concept of family are a sign of the times. Today there are many different forms of cohabitation. I am not judging whether the fact that the family is changing is good or bad. I am merely recording this trend because it affects us all.” J. Počtová

Non-Parent

Jana Počtová
Czech Republic / 2017 / 83 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
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