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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

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
Enclosed World
This four-hour documentary – a compilation of Czech Television’s eponymous series – systematically charts life in prison and the associated societal circumstances. Through looking at human fates, on both sides of the bars, it explores imprisonment as something that, although often addressed in the media, is something with which most of us have no personal experience. Using the powerful stories of several individuals who are at different stages of their incarceration, the film presents not only a cross-sectional view of the current correctional system but also contemplations about guilt, punishment, justice, and whether an individual caught in the gears of a repressive system can actually remedy their behavior and change.“Enclosed world has undoubtedly been the longest, most demanding and most exhausting project I have worked on. I don’t know how many such things you can do in your life if you don’t slow down to survive. Maybe just one…” K. Žalud

Enclosed World

Karel Žalud
Czech Republic / 2018 / 229 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
#sandrainuganda
A Czech NGO invited Sandra Kisić, a twenty-six-year old influencer of Bosnian origin, to come to Uganda. She spent ten days in and about the town of Kabala. Besides the local citizens, she was accompanied by a Dutch volunteer who already was on her umpteenth mission. Sandra, on the other hand, saw poverty and technological backwardness for the first time in reality, not just on her cell phone that she practically did not put down. The director captures the clash of seemingly remote, yet equivalent worlds facing up global challenges as an impartial observer to emphasize numerous tragicomic paradoxes. “Instant soup can warm you up, but it won’t give you strength. We can look at Instagram in a similar way, or we can use it as a medium that can present the ‘old school documentary film’ to the younger audience.” F. Remunda
personal program

#sandrainuganda

Filip Remunda
Czech Republic / 2019 / 70 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
Kings of Šumava
Josef Hasil, nicknamed King of the Bohemian Forest, was a cross-border smuggler between communist Czechoslovakia and the West, and later an agent for the CIC news service. His actions are the central theme of a film created using narrative animation resembling modern film noir, conversations with witnesses, and shots of the beauty of the mysterious Bohemian forests. In places, the documentary also takes on the qualities of a Hollywood action film, which contrasts with the burden of moral decisions of an individual and the relentless power of the totalitarian regime. Almost detective-like investigation is framed by the Bohemian myths and legends that are still told of the man today. "Kings of Šumava poetically explores the duality of hero, villain and reunites former Czech immigrant Vlasta Bukovsky and infamous Czech people smuggler Josef Hasil." K. Kelly
personal program

Kings of Šumava

Kris Kelly
Czech Republic, Ireland / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech 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
llllllIIIIl
The film’s title can be seen as an anti-captcha, a text that is easily machine-read but difficult for people to understand. Working in the style of a documentary essay, the film considers the problem of the autocracy of machines. Apocalyptic visions inspired by the film The Terminator are projected onto the reality of destructive protests against the G20 Summit, whose catalyst, means and outcome are statistical analyses of behavioural models realized using the computers and telephones in our pockets. A collage of original images, commented graphs and internet garbage. For the full viewing experience, please have your smartphone ready. “This text can’t be longer than 200 characters. That’s 60 more than a tweet by Donald Trump.” P. Salaba

llllllIIIIl

Petr Salaba
Czech Republic / 2017 / 27 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
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
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
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
Two Roads
The Jedlička Institute music class currently known as The Tap Tap band was founded 21 years ago by Šimon Ornest to give people with handicaps an opportunity to succeed outside of their daily institutional care. An observing and attentive camera captured the evolution of the personalities of several of the musicians over the course of several years. The attractive energy of the film which is exceptional in its approach to its theme as it avoids the usual compassionate sentiment stems from the relationships among the musicians and between them and their band leader, the motor of the action, whose work improves the public image of people with handicaps in an unorthodox way. “Even if it was hard for me at first, I was trying to make a film in a similar way that the band members are putting up with their destinies: with no sentiment, pointless pity or political correctness involved, yet with a touch of pitch black humour.” R. Síbrt
personal program

Two Roads

Radovan Síbrt
Czech Republic / 2019 / 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
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