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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Into History

film database

Ballet on a Paraphrenic Topic
Ballet sur un thème paraphrénique represents the "factastic" area of the Sandoz film portfolio – films that feature opulent and extravagant set design and unclear, almost crazy narratives, but are often based on scientific subjects, such as the results of specific research papers or studies of mental disorders. That is also the case of Ballet. Director Éric Duvivier who created most films in the aforementioned category aimed for an audiovisual expression of the state of "paraphrenia" which is a type of schizophrenia where reality overlaps with schizophrenic hallucinations.

Ballet on a Paraphrenic Topic

Éric Duvivier
France / 1962 / 33 min.
section: Into History
Egon Bondy's Automatic Debate

Egon Bondy's Automatic Debate

Czech Republic / 120 min.
section: Into History
Images of the Visionary World
Images du monde visionnaire is an essential work in the Sandoz "artistic" portfolio for several reasons: it stands out thanks to its experimental form, nevertheless it is the daring subject of the film and the director's approach that makes the work unique. The film attempts to capture the altered state of consciousness of fine artist and writer Henri Michaux after taking mescaline and hashish. Michaux actively cooperated on the film as revealed in its prologue where Michaux comments on his psychedelic experiences. Also worth noting is the design of the film which uses Michaux's own drawings and surreal scenes evoking unusual states of consciousness.

Images of the Visionary World

Éric Duvivier
France / 1963 / 34 min.
section: Into History
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Industrie

1 min.
section: Into History
Industrie - Factory for Capitalism
November 1989 brought democracy and faith in economic prosperity. Like other state-run enterprises, Tatra Kopřivnice was to be transferred into private hands. However, the company’s privatization has become one example of the naive reliance on market forces and on the honesty of the “heroes” of early capitalism. The initial euphoria was soon replaced by disillusionment. 

Industrie - Factory for Capitalism

Ivo Bystřičan
Czech Republic / 2021 / 26 min.
section: Into History
World Premiere
Industrie - Industry of Normalization
Sometimes, citizens of Czechoslovakia would have to spend several years waiting for their own car. Even so, the communist party hoped to use the newest model of the Škoda automobile to demonstrate the country’s affluence and state of technological advancement. The story of the Škoda Favorit shows how the company from Mladá Boleslav built not only reliable machines but also constructed the illusion that life in Czechoslovakia was good.

Industrie - Industry of Normalization

Ivo Bystřičan
Czech Republic / 2021 / 26 min.
section: Into History
World Premiere
Invention of Beauty
A documentary testimony about the real origins of Karel Gott. An affectionate spoof of Czech humanistic documentary and also a reflection on the mysteries of Czech pop music made by former FAMU students Pavel Klusák (screenplay) and Marek Najbrt (direction).

Invention of Beauty

Marek Najbrt, Pavel Klusák
Czech Republic / 1994 / 22 min.
section: Into History
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Robert Ménégoz’s film depicting the struggles of French dockworkers in the winter and early spring of 1950 is meant to evoke the feelings of insecurity, exertion and danger of this profession whose rights were not sufficiently reflected in post-war France. At the same time, the heroic image of dockworkers is meant to mobilize against American policy, the Marshall Plan, German rearmament and the war in Indochina. Banned by the censors in France, the film won the Grand Prix for Documentary at the 1951 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Long Live the Dockers

Robert Ménégoz
France / 1951 / 14 min.
section: Into History
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How to backtrack, describe and recreate Karel Gott’s efforts at building up his own image and aiming at a replacement of reality by a construct, using TV and film footage? In what moments Karel Gott began experimenting with distancing himself from his usual image? How did his career in Germany, the one so entirely different from his domestic fame, look in a closer perspective? Can we recognize today what seemingly documentary footage had been stylized? How to perceive old TV programmes that were using playback in a very showy way? Why did Afric Simone kick Jitka Zelenková’s breasts? This is first of all a showcase of rare footage from Czechoslovak and West German TV, or an authorial seminar on the origin and contents of the book Gott. A Czechoslovak Story (published by Host, 2021).

Pavel Klusák: Gott. A Czechoslovak Story

60 min.
section: Into History
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Aside from its production of medications, the Swiss pharmaceutic Sandoz company, currently a part of the Novartis corporation, has gained fame by producing and distributing several psychedelic substances the best known of which is probably LSD synthesized by Albert Hofmann in the Basel laboratories. The impact of the popularity of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s made the Sandoz name familiar to the general public and even propelled it into popular culture. For instance, in 1967, The Animals band released a song called A Girl Named Sandoz. The Sandoz company also reflected on the turbulent social changes of the 1960s with its own production of films which amalgamated around the Cinémathèque Sandoz film center that was in charge of production and distribution of the films. Although these films were part of the company's marketing strategy, it sometimes transcended the purely utilitarian form of educational, information or advertising film. The most interesting Sandoz films straddle the border between industrial film and artistic experiment and address subjects that are seemingly irrelevant to pharmaceutic production and often difficult to grasp, such as the mind and its various states, the phenomenon of both physical and mental disease, depiction of different ways of perception, non-European systems of healing, or psychedelic experiences and their processing. For a certain period in the 1960s and 1970s, Cinémathèque Sandoz managed to create a noteworthy film platform that granted a degree of creative freedom to the filmmakers. Thus, films were created those offer unexpected viewpoints that reacted to the cultural and social revolution of the 1960s and probably also to the discovery and research of LSD which Sandoz was promoting in the market as a new medication to treat mental disorders. This section presents six films selected from the Sandoz portfolio that represent various takes on the exploration of the theme of unusual states of mind and their understanding. Lea Petříková will be presenting her project in a form of a film lecture. She is a Czech director and a documentarist. The lecture will include the screening of these titles:Images of the Visionary World The Burning Ear Ballet on a Paraphrenic Topic

Pharm'n'Films: Psychadelic Sandoz

1 min.
section: Into History
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She Sat in a Glass-house Throwing Stones

Bernd Neuburger, Nadja Seelich
Austria / 1993 / 90 min.
section: Into History
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The film by the well-known Italian director Carlo Lizzani is one of the now classic documentaries about the post-war problems of southern Italy. It focuses primarily on the congress concerning the post-war reconstruction of the region, but its main themes are poverty, exploitation of workers and the underdevelopment of the southern regions, exacerbated by WWII, and emphasizes the role of protesting workers as the leading force of transformation. While scenes of workers’ demonstrations were to be cut from the film in Italy, its original form won the Best Short Film Outline award at the 1950 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Something Changed in Midday

Carlo Lizzani
Italy / 1950 / 22 min.
section: Into History
The Burning Ear
The Burning Ear shows the international scope of Sandoz's film production which wasn't limited to Europe but also included various forms of international coproduction, cooperation or – as in the case of The Burning Ear – projects created outside of Europe. Thus, the opportunity to make a film for Sandoz was given to Edd Dundas, American underground filmmaker, who created a psychological study of a young man whom a voice of a divine apparition or a demon drives to committing the radical act of assassination. The film was shot in Japan and fuses Japanese symbols with a universal portrayal of the harrowed inner world of the main protagonist. Dundas relates the complex subject matter mostly using atmospheric photography and strong sound design.

The Burning Ear

Edd Dundas
United States / 1970 / 30 min.
section: Into History
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Victoria Mercanton’s unusual French documentary from the early 1950s provides insight into the cult of Stalin worship by members of the French Communist Party (P.C.F.). The film evokes different types of Stalin worship, from the individual to the collective one, and depicts a highly heterogeneous set of exhibits at a French exhibition in tribute to Stalin. Banned for commercial and non-commercial distribution in France, the film won the Best Short Film Screenplay award at the 1950 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The Man We Love the Most

Victoria Mercanton
France / 1949 / 22 min.
section: Into History
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Původem Holanďan, duší světoběžník, dokumentarista Joris Ivens po druhé světové válce zaměřil svou pozornost na země nově se formujícího východního bloku a tuto část života a tvorby strávil mj. v Československu a ve východním Německu. Pro východoněmeckou společnost DEFA pak natočil snímek dokumentující 3. kongres Světové odborové federace ve Vídni v roce 1953. Pro toto své kolektivní dílo nadchl mnoho zahraničních režisérů a jejich národních štábů, kteří svorně natáčeli přípravy místních delegací dělnických hnutí v okolí šesti velkých řek (Volhy, Mississippi, Gangy, Nilu, Amazonky a Yangtze) na tuto mezinárodní akci. Jejich filmové výpovědi se pak metaforicky „slévají“ jako jednotlivé „proudy“ Ivensovy dokumentární písně, k níž složil hudbu Dimitri Šostakovič a slova napsal Bertold Brecht. Na 8. MFF v Karlových Varech 1954 byla filmu udělena Cena boje za lepší svět.

The Song of the Rivers

Joop Huisken, Joris Ivens, Robert Ménégoz
German Democratic Republic / 1954 / 82 min.
section: Into History
Why Havel?
The first part of the block will be dedicated to the monograph Vojtěch Jasný: The Film Poet in Exile (2020) authored by the film historian Jiří Voráč. The monograph is centered on the legendary director’s life and career after his emigration to Western Europe and to the US after 1968, which have so far received little attention. In exile, Jasný established himself as a film director (he authored over thirty cinema and TV films and documentaries), stage director, photographer, and film studies lecturer. The first part will be followed by the screening of Jasný’s documentary Why Havel? co-produced by himself and Miloš Forman in Canada and Czechoslovakia in 1991. As remarkable as this reflection of the paradoxical transformation of a dissident into a president in the carnival-like atmosphere of the euphoric post-revolution period with the first question marks already appearing may be, it did not meet the expectations of the head of state. The film was premiered several years later, with one scene edited out, and its value has not yet been fully recognized. The director’s cut of the documentary will be screened and accompanied by a commentary on the intriguing story of its production and distribution.

Why Havel?

Vojtěch Jasný
Canada, Czechoslovakia / 1991 / 96 min.
section: Into History
Ministerstvo kultury
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