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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

I Want You If You Dare
Single mother Martina raised twin girls, one of whom was born blind and the other with polio, leaving her disabled. Both children are now adults, and disabled Jana would love to leave her mother and live on her own in institutional living. And she would also like to experience sex, perhaps with a paid assistant. The documentary offers a brutally unsentimental view into the life of an impoverished rural family with two permanently disabled members. It delicately captures both everyday and exceptional situations, focusing mainly on the personal, emotional and relationship problems between the protagonists.  „The harder the fates I make films about, the more I appreciate when my heroes can laugh at them. And when I can make the audience laugh well, I am happy.” D. Smržová
personal program

I Want You If You Dare

Dagmar Smržová
Czech Republic / 2019 / 84 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Mythmaking
Bringing people together through what divides them – this is how internationally known Czech artist Kateřina Šedá describes two projects aimed at bringing together the inhabitants of two villages. For one, she creates a new holiday; for the other, a new mascot. Jan Gogola documents her work while trying to influence her work as little as possible. Documentary film is perhaps the best way to capture Šedá’s “work”. And yet, the viewer finds himself inside her art – her projects are designed to have only participants, not viewers.

Mythmaking

Jan Gogola ml.
Czech Republic / 2013 / 90 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Vratislav Effenberger or Black Shark Hunting
In the spirit of this master of poetics, David Jařab approaches his portrait of leading Czech postwar surrealist Vratislav Effenberger as a game. He invited members of the local surrealist group to talk about Effenberger in places where he stages absurd encounters and interrelationships. The main theme is Effenberger’s unrealized (unrealizable) screenplays, which the filmmakers attempt to enact during the film. This surrealistic hunt for Effenberger’s imagination is capped by an interview with his son full of ambivalent personal memories. “Effenberger’s work with absurd humour and the principle of game enabled him to subversively attack the outer and inner realities of everyday life. This vision is close to mine and to the vision of my film.” D. Jařab

Vratislav Effenberger or Black Shark Hunting

David Jařab
Czech Republic / 2018 / 84 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
DK
This intimate portrait of uncompromising architect David Kopecký – who died of cancer – goes straight to the bone, mixing the extreme personality of a maximalist visionary with the no less intense vision of the director... Kopecký's wife. Archival footage, interviews with friends, and the unbridle energy of a person who lived in a world consisting of light and matter. "A large village shop was being auctioned off, and David was sick with the desire to acquire it... Me and the children's room would be in the meat section, while he would take up everything from the bread aisle to the dairy products."

DK

Bára Kopecká
Czech Republic / 2013 / 75 min.
section: Czech Joy
Treating History
A Jesuit, an anarchist, a doctor, and a banking expert showed such civic courage that they were awarded a prize named after one of the most courageous men of 20th-century Czechoslovak politics – František Kriegel. Where lies the line beyond which human dignity is at risk? A meditation on human rights and the legacy of ideas, from unexpected points of view and in unexpected contexts. Anarchist Polák stands against loggers towards the end of the Šumava blockade. Except for a few important details, they agree on almost everything.

Treating History

Vít Janeček
Czech Republic / 2013 / 84 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Citizen K.
In an era obsessed with identification, the art group Ztohoven undertook an experiment in order to see how much could be done with your own and with a borrowed identity. The group’s members ordered official ID cards using fake identities, trading identities by using passport photos created by morphing their faces together. Using their new identities, they then got married, travelled abroad, voted, and generally showed how difficult it is for the system to tell us apart. 

Citizen K.

Michal Dvořák
Czech Republic / 2012 / 72 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Good Driver Smetana
An experiment involving engaged citizen Roman Smetana – the Olomouc bus driver who drew antennae on politicians’ billboards – expanded into an action drama about courage and (Švejk-like) determination. This feature-length film is an expanded version of an episode from the TV documentary series Czech Journal, and an embodiment of exemplary persistence in civic disobedience. In Smetana’s story, his personal convictions, court rulings, and the post-modern era’s media engineering all converge. In the role of an “ordinary citizen” robbed of 15 minutes of his time by two curious filmmakers, former Minister of Interior Ivan Langer responds with dialectical ease to a simple question: Can you tell the camera that you have never engaged in corruption?

The Good Driver Smetana

Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Czech Republic / 2013 / 77 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Faces of Meda
This film documenting the coexistence of filmmaker Veronika Janečková and arts patron Meda Mládková can be seen as a film about the making of a portrait documentary that was never made. Much of the footage used was taken without Mládková’s knowledge and captures her everyday meetings with the director, who briefly lived in her home in Washington during the course of filming. The film thus shows two different sides of Mládková – the public face, which she shows during “talking head” interviews, and the private face, which reveals minor everyday generational conflicts between an aging powerful woman and the young documentarian.DETAIL:“She had all the maladies. She was kind of fat, she wasn’t particularly pretty. I also think she had long hair. I told her, ‘You must lose 20 kilos.’ She managed to obtain her PhD in the States in just a year.”

Faces of Meda

Veronika Janečková
Czech Republic / 2015 / 50 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Family
A video diary exploring the most intimate and most universal. The film looks not only at the political climate within one’s own family, but also explores the boundaries between the public and the private in the age of the internet. This vivid proof of the lack of comprehension between the right and the left does not provide a political analysis, but rather offers one generation’s view of a confused era. “Those stupid kids go on hunger strike against the communists, and their dissident friends think the vice premier is a punk and call him ‘duke’…” The words of Ivan Hoffman, who doesn’t play the guitar much anymore, since there is nothing to play and no one to play to.

Family

Apolena Rychlíková
Czech Republic / 2013 / 64 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Sound is Innocent
In this documentary essay, the director personally presents the history of electronic and experimental music from the pre-war years to the present day. The film takes place in an almost dream-like space-time that serves both as a recording studio and as a museum of technological artifacts, which allow the filmmaker to take playful grasp of the concept of talking heads. The sonically and visually layered excursion to the beginnings of the efforts to liberate and conceptualize sound is also a debate about the forms, possibilities, and perspectives of the acoustic relations to the world, in which the voices of the past constantly overlap with the sounds of the future. „Music documentaries usually tend to build a monument to a composer, band or subculture… My aim was to treat this topic in an essay-like style, using all available means that film as an audiovisual medium offers.” J. Ožvold
personal program

The Sound is Innocent

Johana Ožvold
Czech Republic, France, Slovakia / 2019 / 68 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech 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
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
Ministerstvo kultury
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Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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