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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Good Mr. Benda
Good Mr. Benda
Good Mr. Benda
Good Mr. Benda

Good Mr. Benda

director: Pavel Jurda
original title: Dobrý život sokola Bendy
country: Czech Republic
year: 2018
running time: 76 min.

synopsis

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

biography

Pavel Jurda (1970) graduated from Mendel University in Brno and studied dramaturgy at JAMU. He focuses on directing, screenwriting, dramaturgy, and dramatics. He worked at the National Theater in Brno as a dramaturge and worked long-term with Czech Television on a series of scientific documentaries for children and films with historical and social themes. His feature-length debut film was My Name is Hungry Buffalo (Ji.hlava IDFF 2016). 

more about film

director: Pavel Jurda
cast: Miroslav Benda
producer: Jiří Konečný
script: Pavel Jurda, Roman Franc
editing: Pavel Kolaja
sound: Jiří Kubík

other films in the section

Everything´s Gonna Be Fine
Producer Čestmír Kopecký had originally wanted to make a film about the changing face of Brno, but in the end director Robin Kvapil and co-writer Pavel Šplíchal created something more closely resembling Šplíchal’s ironic blog Prigl. In their “lovingly anarchistic” film, Brno forms the epicentre of a sarcastic look at Czech society. The naive and vacuous communist-era documentary with which Kvapil’s film opens gives way to the reporter’s bitter monologues right in front of the camera. These are intercut with acted sequences featuring Brno’s political elites, artists, and outcasts.“People say that Brno is the only joke that is inhabitable. The entire film follows this logic.” R. Kvapil

Everything´s Gonna Be Fine

Robin Kvapil
Czech Republic / 2017 / 71 min.
section: Czech Joy
World 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
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
Apparatgeist
The concept of Apparatgeist expresses how mankind’s relationship with technology evolves and how it transforms our social contacts. In a similar fashion to the authors of this theory, James E. Katz and Mark Aakhus, the film’s director has also focused on the current phenomenon of mobile phones. It takes us to an allegorical space of the apparatgeist, a barren, inhospitable place where cell phones act as small windows into different worlds of internet mundanity and bizarreness, and as a reflection of our interaction with a digital device. “How much do we hide behind our smartphones and use them to expose ourselves? To what extent is it possible to imprint ourselves into images composed of ones and zeros?” M.-M. Kochová
personal program

Apparatgeist

Marie-Magdalena Kochová
Czech Republic / 2019 / 11 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
Illusion
In her original concept of a film as a computer game, the author presents her personal report from Budapest where she was spent a year as a student. The viewers take part in a game, going through several levels that put them into everyday situations related to the issues of the contemporary Hungarian society: they see the capital with the eyes of tourists, but they are mostly forced to use the subjective perspective of the Hungarians to think about the freedom of art, the right to education, medical care, and the questionable Hungarian political situation in general where the name of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is often heard again and again.“The most demanding part of this film was to fight my own paranoia and the standardized thinking constantly produced by my characters and the system I made the film about.” K. Turečková

Illusion

Kateřina Turečková
Czech Republic / 2018 / 52 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
The Prison of Art
“Most prisoners like boxes.” The constrained nature of prisons opens up an infinitude of fantasies and free artistic expression. Environment determines means of expression. A project of confrontation and dialogue with artists from the outside shows radical diff erences and a conspiratory divergence from social norms. This essay on imaginary and physical freedom introduces us to the extreme thoughts of our own boundaries and limitations.  

The Prison of Art

Radovan Síbrt
Czech Republic / 2012 / 87 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Fortress
This Czech documentary presents a visit to the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (a.k.a. Trans-Dniestr) as a trip to a museum of communist totalitarianism. The country, whose independence has been recognized by only a few other states, remains an isolated multi-ethnic enclave held together by an authoritarian regime. In a country where you are only allowed to film out the window of a train, the locals are afraid of being denounced but are glad to live in a comfortable refuge from the hectic modern world, and songs on television celebrate the president.  

Fortress

Lukáš Kokeš, Klára Tasovská
Czech Republic / 2012 / 70 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
To rule, to work, to earn, to pray, to collapse
This commentary on the collapse of civilization in four acts contains trace elements of Islamophobia, atheism, tabloid media, Mark Zuckerberg, mouldy bread, demonstrators, migrant labourers, Egyptologists and scepticism. An extensive exploration of the transcendental questions of a metastasising civilization, presented through microscopic examples from Czech society. The society of excess and collapse, illustrated through the simplicity of children’s games on a playground.Seen from a voyeur’s vantage point on a balcony, children’s games reveal complicated issues of civilization’s entropy – naive creatures as metaphors for complex and complicated social mechanisms of power, control and subjugation.

To rule, to work, to earn, to pray, to collapse

Andran Abramjan
Czech Republic / 2013 / 40 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Czech Journal: Matrix AB
A portrait of Andrej Babiš – on one hand drawn to Vít Klusák’s camera, on the other hand fleeing from it – changes in its paradoxical attempt to capture this elusive personality who lacks an anchor. The riddle that is Babiš is unwittingly revealed to the audience during the general election when “the politician against his own convictions” heads out among the voters with doughnuts to convince them of his good intentions and his will to perform good for the people. This observational documentary takes a look at the mechanics of Babiš’ power politics through details of handshakes, briefly swapped words, and stacked Kostelec sausages.DETAIL:“The main thing that was missing in the party was a program. Because in my opinion, a program can’t stand on just the word ‘just because’. And then I realized that my fellow party members are just a bunch of arrivistes, people lacking political ideals...”

Czech Journal: Matrix AB

Vít Klusák
Czech Republic / 2015 / 74 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Is Everyone Right? Karel Floss and the Others.
A multi-portrait of the history of post-1989 Czech ideas and sensibilities, centered around left-wing Christian philosopher Karel Floss. Circling his ideas on God, truth, and politics like satellites are statements by strongly antithetical individuals including Milan Knížák, Ondřej Slačálek, Noam Chomsky, and Czech nationalist thinkers. Working with a subtle sense of irony, the film is openly inspired by the style of Karel Vachek as it makes use of semantic counterpoints, situational humor and aloof formal elements. The result is a kind of audiovisual riverbed for channeling the fury of a nation that recalls a child that is just learning to think and does not know what to relate to first, because in a certain sense, basically “everyone is right”.DETAIL:“That means that truth unifies, but it unifies without asking us to give up on differences. And so we fling ourselves into the trap of dogmatism – any position is dogmatic if it claims that if there exist truths, then these truths will not accept any differences.”

Is Everyone Right? Karel Floss and the Others.

Helena Všetečková
Czech Republic / 2015 / 124 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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