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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Czech Journal: The Little Mole & Laozi
Czech Journal: The Little Mole & Laozi

Czech Journal: The Little Mole & Laozi

director: Filip Remunda
original title: Český žurnál: Krtek a Lao-c'
country: Czech Republic
year: 2016
running time: 85 min.

synopsis

In one episode of Czech Journal, Filip Remunda focuses on the Chinese president’s visit to the Czech Republic and launches into confrontational discussions with the citizens of a country that violates human rights and where people are imprisoned for their opinions, but whose population proudly voices their allegiance to their prospering country. Footage of the protests held by the Czech public, and in the opposite situation, when the Chinese greet the president with joy, as well as interviews with a Chinese dissident and with a Czech teacher, are interspersed with the saying of Laozi and footage of Leonid Brezhnev’s visit to Prague in 1978. The film thus opens the question as to with whom the Czech president is fostering warm international relations.

“More than the protests, I was interested in the fact that the Chinese find us ridiculous for allowing people to protest. I went to China to get at the roots of this attitude.”

biography

Director Filip Remunda (1973), in collaboration with director Vít Klusák started the Hypermarket Film Production Company, and together they made the ironic confrontational documentaries Czech Dream (2004, Jihlava IDFF 2007) and Czech Peace (2010, Jihlava IDFF 2010). Independently Remunda has filmed such documentaries as The Tadpole, the Rabbit, and the Holy Ghost (2007, Jihlava IDFF 2007), about a radical Orthodox priest. Since 2016, he has been working on the television series Czech Journal.

more about film

director: Filip Remunda
producer: Petr Kubica, Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
script: Filip Remunda
photography: Jakub Halousek
editing: Marek Šulík
sound: Michal Gábor

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
Czech Journal: Near Far East
This film about the situation in presentday war-torn Ukraine originated over the course of a year as the director’s travel journal. Ukrainian teacher Tania, who works in Prague as a cleaning lady, takes the fi lmmaker along to visit her family in Transcarpathia. The director also meets with his friends who are local journalists, and with Petr, a revolutionary who gives an atypical tour of the residence of Viktor Yanukovuch. Observational, mostly static shots, in which Remunda appears only occasionally as a witness or moderator, is accompanied by his off-screen commentary offering reflections on his own relationship with Ukraine and with the media in general.DETAIL:“Drug addicts have been eradicated as a social class. So there’s none here.” “And where are they?” “I’d say they’ve gone for treatment. They’re sick people. They should be treated. There are all kinds of ways. They’ll get a shovel and dig trenches.”

Czech Journal: Near Far East

Filip Remunda
Czech Republic / 2015 / 70 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
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
Vote For Kibera
Photographer Don, a resident of Kibera, a giant slum in Nairobi, says that in his photographs he tries to capture the positive side of his home – not suffering, misery, and resignation, but hope, determination, and creativity. And Martin Páv’s documentary has taken a similar approach. Working with the unique photogenic qualities of the slum, the film is structured as a series of interviews with local residents. Besides Don, we also meet local artists, a teacher, and a boxing coach. Nevertheless, in the film’s final part about the presidential elections in Kenya, the frustrations, hopelessness, and violence in Kibera bubble to the surface.“People can co-operate if they have a reason to.“ M. Páv

Vote For Kibera

Martin Páv
Czech Republic / 2018 / 86 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
RINO
Karel Köcher is supposedly the most important communist agent to infiltrate the CIA. There are few reliable sources as to his activities, and so the filmmakers aim their camera primarily at the main protagonist. The result is an unconventional portrait that tells us more about a man living a double life than about any sensationalized spy activities. The mystery surrounding his actions also envelopes Köcher the individual: it is difficult to figure out what is going through the mind of someone so perfectly in control and capable of beating a lie detector. DETAIL:“People will say, ‘Oh well, you learned to lie so how can we believe you?’ But it’s not like that, you see? When you lie for a reason, that doesn’t mean that you are a liar by nature. It’s a technical matter.”

RINO

Jakub Wagner
Czech Republic / 2015 / 95 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
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
Kiruna – A Brand New World
Apocalyptic depiction of an area literally engulfed by the mining industry is presented in this documentary that observes the eponymous northern Swedish city, part of which was abandoned due to activities in the nearby iron mine. The mining company’s management decided not to halt profitable mining activities and instead made the decision to move the residents of the threatened district. Using footage shot in the city inside the Arctic Circle and directly in the mines, the director has uncovered subtle film imagery, and using the stories of three protagonists now living in a bizarre inter-time, imaginatively addresses the topics of resettlement, tradition, and respect for a particular location. “The dystopian story of Kiruna is about lost people looking for a home in an uprooted city. It shows the dark side of the advanced society, whether in Sweden or the Czech Republic.” G. Stocklassa
personal program

Kiruna – A Brand New World

Greta Stocklassa
Czech Republic / 2019 / 87 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Talks with TGM
Another contribution to the specific subgenre of animated history by the scriptwriter Pavel Kosatík. On 26 September 1928, Karel Čapek and President Masaryk meet in the gardens of Topolčianky castle to decide about the fate of their joint literary work. Their fiction film dialogue is based on quotes from a future book and their mutual correspondence, considerably freeing the original format of literary conversation from binding conventions. Čapek and Masaryk reproach and offend each other, but they also ask key personal questions and questions about the social functions of a writer and politician respectively.“It’s a film about two extraordinary men; it’s about the fact that emotions can be sometimes more powerful than ideas even in such exceptional people.” J. Červenka

Talks with TGM

Jakub Červenka
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Czech Way
In this film on Czechoslovakia’s post-communist “coupon privatization”, the central them among the many opinions and reminiscences heard in interviews with historians and participants is the conflict between the predatory capitalistic order and the more socially conceived alternative, which remains alive and well in Czech politics today. Precisely because of this emphasis on the older debate regarding social aspects of society, this look back at the early days of Czech capitalism is relevant today. Using the blunt, timeless method of “talking heads”, the film reveals that just after the revolution a significant percent of the population was in favor of some type of socialism. The film this searches for reasons why the country turned towards capitalism. DETAIL:“And that’s why I’m a libertarian, and that’s why I’m all for a free market - tens of thousands just have to try it so that one of them can succeed, and most of the time it’s purely chance that it works out for them.”

The Czech Way

Martin Kohout
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2015 / 92 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
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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