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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Never Happened
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Never Happened
Never Happened
Never Happened
Never Happened

Never Happened

director: Barbora Berezňáková
original title: Skutok sa stal
country: Slovakia, Czech Republic
year: 2019
running time: 82 min.

synopsis

“The deed did not occur,” proclaimed Vladimir Mečiar in 1996 on the murder of businessman Róbert Remiáš, which likely had a political motive and with which the Prime Minister himself was likely involved. His infamous dictum is an attempt to negate a documentary that combines an investigative approach with original filmmaking. The director builds her film on interviews with key players in the Remiáš case but does not limit herself to an austere presentation of facts. Alternating different film formats, from black and white film to VHS, she evokes a period of crime and highlights the central theme of confrontation with the past.

“I wanted to make a poetic political film. Engagé art should not give up on the style.” B. Berezňáková

 

biography

Barbora Berezňáková (1987) graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and the New York Film Academy. Her filmography includes short films, music videos and video art gallery installations. For television, she made a short documentary about the witnesses of 1968 Ask Your Parents: 68 (2018), and an episode of the show GEN about musician Peter Breiner (2014).  She also explored memories of the recent past in her gallery project entitled Remembering ‘90 (2015).

more about film

director: Barbora Berezňáková
producer: David Čorba, Hana Blaha Šilarová
script: Barbora Berezňáková
photography: Barbora Berezňáková, Ivo Mika
editing: Matěj Šámal
music: Ľubomír Burgr
sound: Bohumil Martinák, Lukáš Kasprzyk, Dušan Kozák

other films in the section

The Great Night
In the twilight of consumer democracy, priestesses of love come to life and wait for their customers. Prostitutes, sales clerks, warehouse workers, non-stop bars, dance clubs, musty flats. A subculture of insomnia that lives the eternal night. Unceasing dissatisfaction with one’s life and unfulfilled desires. The rhythm of the nocturnal life of consumption and rapid gain, soaked in amphetamine and cheep alcohol.Assembly-line production of gaming machines, tools for the consumption of human disorder and unhappiness. The lottery of prostitutes and nighttime wandering that defies angelic choirs of purity and modesty. Sonatas next to cheap hot dogs, shampoo, and the hopelessness of housing projects.

The Great Night

Petr Hátle
Czech Republic / 2013 / 72 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
Life and Death in Tanvald - director’s cut
The town of Tanvald as a symbol for identifying current society-wide attitudes. The death of a young Roma spurs the filmmakers’ investigation into the incident’s true course of events. The mysteries of the country’s creeping xenophobia provide a key to understanding anti-Roma attitudes. Over the course of a year, we witness the transforming landscape of Czech nationalism and the social tectonics of the racial conflict of a twisted society. The self-analytical look at the schism between the two filmmakers provides a welcome debate on the ethical integrity of the documentary filmmaker. The filmmaker’s approach comes close to desecrating the sanctity of childhood innocence.

Life and Death in Tanvald - director’s cut

Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Czech Republic / 2013 / 57 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
One Last Time in the Fields
A filmed explication and a discovered script, composed of melodies and images for a film that was once supposed to be made. In the beginning was Bohuslav Martinů’s cantata Kytice – or rather, its part titled “Man and Death”, a musical adaptation of Sušil’s collection of folk poetry. Inspired by it, writer and painter Ivan Matoušek created an eschatological still-life that then influenced his novel The Ego. This path is followed not just by the story of the film’s creation but by the film itself, a brief depiction of man on the road towards death, moving slowly amidst a waving field. Images become a parable of our own mortality. “You can only quote yourself in your own work.” P. Havlík

One Last Time in the Fields

Přemysl Havlík
Czech Republic / 2017 / 54 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Central Bus Station
Only recently, Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station was still the largest in the world. But this oversized space only serves more than its original purpose to bring in masses of people who, confused by its complicated interior design, succumb to shopping fever. Over time this concrete monster, which won’t be easy to tear down, has become a temporary refuge for people on the margins of society – refugees, criminals, prostitutes. Like its main protagonist, the tourist guide Yonatan, the film’s director is fascinated by one of the wonders of the world of redundancy and the microcosm of the people who live here.“To me, the Central Bus Station is not only a strange place, but also a place where everyone can find a kind of home.” T. Elšík

Central Bus Station

Tomáš Elšík
Czech Republic / 2018 / 75 min.
section: Czech Joy
East European Premiere
Techsquat
The new form of community living called techsquat is open to all creatives, entrepreneurs and managers who want to share their personal and working space-time with similar-minded people. Five young people living together in a Prague apartment like to think of techsquatting as a progressive and stimulating lifestyle. The filmmakers follow their daily lives as they test the viability of this idea. Their observational approach based on long static shots does not prevent them from engaging in a bit of sarcasm – as hinted at in their choice and ordering of scenes and fully revealed at the film’s end.DETAIL:“Quality – it’s basically an attribute of things, like how we spend our time or something that works well. I think that people can be of good quality, too, and I firmly hope that there are a lot of quality people here.”

Techsquat

Tereza Bernátková
Czech Republic / 2015 / 36 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Jaroslav Kučera A Journal
Jaroslav Kučera was the husband of director Věra Chytilová and one of the most original cameramen of the Czechoslovak New Wave. Footage that he captured in his free time for private purposes served a few decades later as the basis for the creation of a fragile, intimate portrait which dispenses with words. In it, the master of the image freely sketches the innermost space of his family. Thanks to the director’s sensitive selection, we observe scenes of spontaneous posing before the lens and moments of repose, compellingly woven together with a soundtrack by producer Aid Kid. “The most important information about Czech literature of the recent decades can be found in literary journals by Jan Zábrana, Ivan Diviš, and Pavel Juráček. With that in mind, we approached the processing of cameraman Jaroslav Kučera’s film diary.” J. Felcman  
personal program

Jaroslav Kučera A Journal

Jakub Felcman
Czech Republic / 2019 / 67 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
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
Amerika
A sophisticated portrait of the Czech custom of “tramping” as seen through a personal lens, the film reconstructs and deconstructs the myth of the Czech dream of freedom. The metaphor of “America” serves as a space for personal projection for the main heroes, as well as a symbol of a lost paradise, whose lack of a time and space anchor gives a skewed impression of an indefinite feeling of absence. Lazily moving between a road movie, a pure romance movie, and an observational musical, questions begin to form: Is it a game? Is this serious? The unclear answer perfectly fits with the utopian world of tramping, where words like “fiction” and “reality” really have no place. DETAIL:“Yeah, like, but you have some idea of what America’s like, we don’t....” “But you have country there!” “Yeah, we have country....but your country is different than our country. It’s more romantic, I’m telling you...”

Amerika

Jan Foukal
Czech Republic / 2015 / 70 min.
section: Czech Joy
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
On the Water
This documentary essay, containing certain elements of a road movie, traces the journey of several individuals during their trek through the foothills of the Ore Mountains. Its aim is to capture an image of the unstable terrain of the area, which is the result of decades of mining and the subsequent (un)successful reclamation activities. The title may be considered as the literal designation of their river adventure as well as a reference to the changeable nature of the landscape. This film, balancing on a fine line between documentary and fiction, appeals to the viewer’s imagination and lets the landscape itself tell the story of this devastated and later revitalised area of the Northern Bohemia Region.DETAIL:“It is a landscape in the midst of a transformation of sorts. Everything’s changing. There was a chemical factory over there; now it’s gone. The chemical factory over there used to be a meadow. Things change by the second. It has to be recorded.”

On the Water

Martin Ryšavý
Czech Republic / 2015 / 90 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
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