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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

Kiruna – A Brand New World
Apocalyptic depiction of an area literally engulfed by the mining industry is presented in this documentary that observes the eponymous northern Swedish city, part of which was abandoned due to activities in the nearby iron mine. The mining company’s management decided not to halt profitable mining activities and instead made the decision to move the residents of the threatened district. Using footage shot in the city inside the Arctic Circle and directly in the mines, the director has uncovered subtle film imagery, and using the stories of three protagonists now living in a bizarre inter-time, imaginatively addresses the topics of resettlement, tradition, and respect for a particular location. “The dystopian story of Kiruna is about lost people looking for a home in an uprooted city. It shows the dark side of the advanced society, whether in Sweden or the Czech Republic.” G. Stocklassa
personal program

Kiruna – A Brand New World

Greta Stocklassa
Czech Republic / 2019 / 87 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Heidegger in Auschwitz
Czech Joy - Out of competitionThe German philosopher Martin Heidegger, one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, goes on a tour of Auschwitz forty years after his death. He takes 2,500 photographs during his visit. On his way back, he visits Prague and his attention is caught by the tail end of a marathon, which conspicuously reminds him of a funeral. The following winter, his Jewish lover and another of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, Hannah Arendt, rises from the grave as well. With a 16mm camera in hand, she aimlessly wanders the area surrounding Heidegger’s chalet in Todtnauberg. She has visions of various motifs from the great philosopher’s central work, Being and Time. All is arranged in a strictly structural shape. Static in movement, kinetic in stillness. “Oh, Germany! People laugh when they hear the talk that comes from your house. But anyone who sees you reaches for a knife.” M. Ježek

Heidegger in Auschwitz

Martin Ježek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 50 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Blind Gulliver
In Martin Ryšavý’s new film, the film medium becomes an analogue of the human mind. The artist uses it not only to organize memories, but also as a specific instrument of perception. The film features scenes from visits to Ukraine and Russia, a monologue by a Russian tarot card reader, and the director’s eye exam. Using focus, he creates parallels between the camera and the sight organ; with editing, a web of associations emerges in which personal memories intertwine with observations of public political and social events. Blind Gulliver is a film about searching for perspectives in all senses of the word.“I pass through the world with eyes wide open.”

Blind Gulliver

Martin Ryšavý
Czech Republic / 2016 / 105 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
Love Me If You Can
In other countries, sexual assistance for disabled people is an established concept, but it is only just getting started in the Czech Republic. Documentarian Dagmar Smržová approaches the subject in a style reminiscent of the films of Erika Hníková. She has chosen three handicapped men and one trained sexual assistant, and follows them in everyday situations, casually asking them various questions. The film explores a subject that, although it is a serious social issue, the public has either ignored or finds controversial. Above all, however, she offers a sensitive look at the intimate lives of people living with disabilities.“... we cannot choose whether we are born good looking or not so good looking, strong or weak and that’s why we should reach out and help each other with things one can and the other can’t do – including making love…”

Love Me If You Can

Dagmar Smržová
Czech Republic / 2016 / 63 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
ALONE
Luba Skořepová has spent the past several years in solitude, struggling to stay an active theatre actress as long as she can. She invited the film crew into her home in order to shoot her daily life. Although the resulting film contains archival footage from her youth, it is definitely not a biographical film. The filmmakers focus on the present day, capturing scenes from the life of an old and solitary woman who possesses the will to live an active life but who is no longer important for others. Skořepová herself was behind the making of the film, through which she hopes to call attention to the subject of loneliness among old people.“Luba wanted to film Alone in order to call attention to the subject of loneliness among old people. I am convinced that we have succeeded.” O. Faifr

ALONE

Otakar Faifr
Czech Republic / 2017 / 63 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
Kalado
“There are many teachings in the world – karate, aikido, tai chi, yoga. But none teach you purification. Only kalado,” says the film’s protagonist, the performance artist Sai Kijima. As the viewer listens to his introspective commentary, the camera show him exploring the limits of the body with his strange movements. Kalado is a tool for getting to know oneself, for questioning ingrained ideas about oneself, and for finding one’s hidden identity. The film captures the ritual nature of Kijima’s performances and the manner in which he lets deeply rooted traumas flow forth in a cleansing outburst of creativity. “When I met Sai, I was captivated above all by the fact that he dances and cleans. I was interested in finding Kalado. When we finished filming, he said ‘Life is misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is understanding. This is Kalado.’” T. Tara

Kalado

Tereza Tara
Czech Republic / 2017 / 30 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Everything Has Its Own Time
Viola Ježková’s experimentally conceived film presents real time and cinematic time as something woven into one image. The image layers are often layered over one another, and the audio tracks are intermixed. This very personal documentary is a poetic exploration of memory, consciousness and future expectations as inexorably joined by reality. Filing by before our eyes (before the cinematographic gaze) are scenes from the past and images of everyday life; in the voiceover, inner voices recite fragments of long-ago dialogues between those who have left us but have not left us alone. “How to come to terms with loss? How to treat the remains? How to understand the meaning of memories? When we enter a picture, we leave the frame. We meet ideas of images. And through this encounter we gain a new image – an image for the future.” V. Ježková

Everything Has Its Own Time

Viola Ježková
Czech Republic / 2017 / 29 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Peasant Common Sense
Originally, this film – which made waves in Czech society – was supposed to be about Czech agriculture and about the factors that have the greatest impact on it. But one of the most important factors turned out to be the entrepreneurial and political activities of Andrej Babiš. A documentary with elements of investigative journalism, the film follows journalists Zuzana Vlasatá and Jakub Patočka as they uncover Babiš’s business style and its impact on society and the environment. Through inventive editing, framing and the use of animation, the film goes beyond a mere presentation of facts to create an original report, made using various tools of the cinematic medium. “The government must by guided by peasant common sense!” Z. Piussi

Peasant Common Sense

Zuzana Piussi, Vít Janeček
Czech Republic / 2017 / 73 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Batalives
Tomáš Baťa created unique factory production in the middle of a town that he had built for his employees complete with civic infrastructure. In line with this philosophy, the Baťa brothers set up dozens satellite town reminiscent of Zlín all over the world. Some of them still serve their original purpose, others stand as mere reminders of the famous factories. Poetic episodes take place in standard terrace houses that provide a video clip backdrop for young Croatians or symbolize the life devoted to Baťa in Batadorp, Netherlands. Five protagonists from different continents tell their overlapping stories influenced by the Baťa system. ‘Baťa’s motivational motto “Today a Dream, Tomorrow Reality”, painted in large letters on the wall that divided the factory from the town, has always seemed incredibly sad to me. It would be much better to live according to a motto “Today Reality, But Tomorrow a Dream”.’ K. Zalabáková

Batalives

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section: Czech Joy
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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

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section: Czech Joy
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