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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Czech Journal: The Limits of Work
Czech Journal: The Limits of Work

Czech Journal: The Limits of Work

director: Apolena Rychlíková
original title: Český žurnál: Hranice práce
country: Czech Republic
year: 2017
running time: 70 min.

synopsis

Journalist Saša Uhlová spent six months exploring working conditions at the worst-paid jobs in the Czech Republic. She spent several weeks in a hospital washroom, at a poultry plant, behind a cash register and at a waste sorting facility. Her experience formed the basis for a very personal series of reports about people working invisible jobs under shocking conditions, published on the A2larm.cz website. Apolena Rychlíková has turned these articles into a documentary film consisting of scenes shot at Uhlová’s home and of video footage taken at her places of work, accompanied by Uhlová’s read commentary.

“I spent several months close to my protagonist, who never once placed herself above those whose lives she has tried to show us. Perhaps this film of our era will, with time, reach even those whom it affects.” A. Rychlíková

biography

Apolena Rychlíková (1989) takes an intensive interest in the public space, and this is reflected in her film work as well. The Ji.hlava IDFF previously screened her films Hájek at the Castle, Petr in the House (2011), Make Some Wish When Government Falls (2012), Family (2013), Ex-Premiers (2013), If Adolf Hitler Lived There Would Be No Rights for Gypsies (2014), Don’t Let Yourself Be Bowed! (2014), Don’t Give Up: The City’s Clinic (2015) and Intolerance: The Chill (2015).

more about film

director: Apolena Rychlíková
producer: Petr Kubica
script: Apolena Rychlíková, Saša Uhlová
photography: Jan Šípek
editing: Kateřina Krutská - Vrbová
sound: František Šec

other films in the section

Sólo
Martín Perano is a young Argentinean piano virtuoso and composer whose life has been turned upside-down by mental illness. He spent the past few years in the largest psychiatric hospital in South America, El Borda in Buenos Aires. After his release he returned to the nearly empty house of his parents, where his biggest concern was to learn to live without walls and to go back to the piano, which he played every day in the institute. The director patiently observes Martín’s return; in interviews with his loved ones, he learns more about Martín’s past, lyrically approaching the inner workings of a person obsessed with creation, capable of taking strength from their own hypersensitivity. “The other patients sat in respectful silence listening to this curious sonata of fingers rapping the table. After a few minutes, Martín finished playing. Strong emotions could be read in the eyes of his audience, as though they had been listening to real music.” A. Benki
personal program

Sólo

Artemio Benki
Czech Republic, France, Argentina, Austria / 2019 / 84 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Love Me If You Can
In other countries, sexual assistance for disabled people is an established concept, but it is only just getting started in the Czech Republic. Documentarian Dagmar Smržová approaches the subject in a style reminiscent of the films of Erika Hníková. She has chosen three handicapped men and one trained sexual assistant, and follows them in everyday situations, casually asking them various questions. The film explores a subject that, although it is a serious social issue, the public has either ignored or finds controversial. Above all, however, she offers a sensitive look at the intimate lives of people living with disabilities.“... we cannot choose whether we are born good looking or not so good looking, strong or weak and that’s why we should reach out and help each other with things one can and the other can’t do – including making love…”

Love Me If You Can

Dagmar Smržová
Czech Republic / 2016 / 63 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Good Mr. Benda
A sensitive portrait of grandfather Miroslav Benda, a tried and true Sokol member and an ordinary man with extraordinary vigor and ideals, revealing a story of human resilience and optimism through nostalgia and situational comedy. The film is a kind of observational documentary - it includes family videos and archival film material. We’re drawn into the microcosm of the village of Křenovice u Slavkova by two Japanese women who have decided to visit Benda, thanks to his long friendship with a university professor from Tokyo. Together with Benda, the audience travels to the only Japanese gas station in Europe, to Prague’s Strahov Stadium, and to New York to visit American Sokol members. “Old Mr. Benda fascinates me with his ability to elevate banality to a feast; he is like a Zen master who was asked about the meaning of life and said: ‘When you want to eat, eat; when you want to sleep, sleep.’” P. Jurda

Good Mr. Benda

Pavel Jurda
Czech Republic / 2018 / 76 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Talking About Adultery
In open testimonies by husbands, wives, and lovers, this highly stylized introspective fi m presents different forms of marriage and searches for the meaning of this institution in our post-consumerist society. Through a visually dominant text conversation between the central couple R. and B., the viewer gradually begins to identify with the stories of anonymous heroes who balance fulfillment of love and sexuality in relationships, cope with their frustration, or describe the rediscovered value of marriage. Metaphors and collages reflect the filmmaker’s perspective, and ultimately a surprising twist of life connected to the filming. “Infidelity is actually a boring topic, yet it can be quite telling about one.” B. Jíchová Tyson
personal program

Talking About Adultery

Bára Jíchová Tyson
Czech Republic, United States / 2019 / 72 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Everything Has Its Own Time
Viola Ježková’s experimentally conceived film presents real time and cinematic time as something woven into one image. The image layers are often layered over one another, and the audio tracks are intermixed. This very personal documentary is a poetic exploration of memory, consciousness and future expectations as inexorably joined by reality. Filing by before our eyes (before the cinematographic gaze) are scenes from the past and images of everyday life; in the voiceover, inner voices recite fragments of long-ago dialogues between those who have left us but have not left us alone. “How to come to terms with loss? How to treat the remains? How to understand the meaning of memories? When we enter a picture, we leave the frame. We meet ideas of images. And through this encounter we gain a new image – an image for the future.” V. Ježková

Everything Has Its Own Time

Viola Ježková
Czech Republic / 2017 / 29 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The End of Light
On a most real stage of all, a director of this hybrid film lets an unreal story flow. While Croatian nationalists stage a protest in front of the Rijeka theatre against its art director Oliver Frljić (a well-known figure to Czechs, among others), on a nearby island of Goli otok, amateur actors rehearse a surrealistic performance. Dilapidated buildings of a former concentration camp, secretly erected by Tito’s régime to hold political prisoners, serve as props of a Lynch-like scene in which smeared-faced actors become objects in the waxworks of their own dreams. The world of imagination and the world of bleak reality start moving away from each other.“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3” A. Suk

The End of Light

Aleš Suk
Croatia / 2018 / 62 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The State Capture
After the murders of the journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, the shooting of the documentary about a new kind of social establishment in which the traditional state structures become replaced with Mafia and oligarchy took a huge turn. By interviewing various persons - lawyers, bloggers, journalist, security experts, and former secret service agents -, the author tries to uncover the complex network of those influencing the Slovakian public space. The investigative film about a country in which the communist regime fell thirty years ago offers overwhelming facts about the unclear relationships among former secret service agents and interest groups, and shows the issues and threats faced by both journalists and the public. “The murder of a journalist raised more questions than just who the killer was. The tragedy illuminated the real picture of social institutions and created a short window when it was possible to capture it with a camera.” Z. Piussi
personal program

The State Capture

Zuzana Piussi
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2019 / 79 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech 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
Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář
Roman Štětina returns to the subject of radio in a documentary project created in collaboration with radio director Miroslav Buriánek. In documenting Buriánek and the members of the KLAS theater ensemble as they prepare a radio adaptation of Kolář’s poetry collection Instructions for Use, Štětina tries to explore radio directing as a distinctive but hidden artistic act. Without showing the viewer the final radio production, Štětina offers us a unique chance to witness the creative process involved in creating a radio adaptation. The voiceover features commentary on the events in the studio.“Speak, create, share geometrically. No slapped on layers of lyricism. Just sorrow and yearning. And respect the rule of the right angle.” (Miroslav Buriánek)

Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář

Roman Štětina, Miroslav Buriánek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 130 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Never Happened
“The deed did not occur,” proclaimed Vladimir Mečiar in 1996 on the murder of businessman Róbert Remiáš, which likely had a political motive and with which the Prime Minister himself was likely involved. His infamous dictum is an attempt to negate a documentary that combines an investigative approach with original filmmaking. The director builds her film on interviews with key players in the Remiáš case but does not limit herself to an austere presentation of facts. Alternating different film formats, from black and white film to VHS, she evokes a period of crime and highlights the central theme of confrontation with the past. “I wanted to make a poetic political film. Engagé art should not give up on the style.” B. Berezňáková  
personal program

Never Happened

Barbora Berezňáková
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2019 / 82 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 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
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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