27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance
Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance
Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance
Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance
Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance

Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance

director: Miloslav Šmídmajer
original title: Milan Kundera: Od Žertu k Bezvýznamnosti
country: Czech Republic
year: 2021
running time: 95 min.


This documentary presents all the major works of Milan Kundera and their themes. A Western reader has no idea about his early verses and plays. Until recently, none of his novels written in French were even published in the Czech Republic. What’s more, Kundera is shrouded in a number of myths. Why, since 1985, has he refused to give interviews or appear in the media? Why has he avoided public life? And why is he said to have very few friends? These myths make him seem like a freak of nature, and this documentary film gradually confirms or debunks them while emphasizing Kundera's artistic vision. The film is framed by a "student story" that’s adamant in getting Milan Kundera to do an interview. It gradually becomes more acquainted with his texts and opinions and with his friends and co-workers in order to finally understand that what’s essential and what’s left is his work and not the vicissitudes of life.


Miloslav Šmídmajer made his debut with the documentary Stick to That Dream about Miloš Forman for Czechoslovak Television in 1990. This was followed by a series of portraits: I Know Why I’m Here (1991) about Jiří Menzel, Occupation: Cinematographer about Miroslav Ondříček, The Spaces of Theodor Pištěk, Life is a Zebra about Lucia Bílá, The Three Lives of Vladimír Pucholt, and The Return of Saul Zaentz. He revisited Miloš Forman as a subject matter two more times with his documentary films A Taste of Fame and Miloš Forman: What Doesn’t Kill You… (2009). In 2021, he premiered a documentary about Milan Kundera and a documentary about Jan Werich with Martin Sluneček.

more about film

director: Miloslav Šmídmajer
producer: Miloslav Šmídmajer, Jiřina Budíková
script: Miloslav Šmídmajer, Jakub Vansa
photography: Pavel Šobr, Miroslav Souček, Martin Čech
editing: Jakub Vansa
music: Petr Malásek
sound: Radovan Kramář
koproducent: Pavel Šobr
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Kudy z nudy