27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Notes on War

These iconic post-1945 documentary films challenge us to look at them and our world in a different light.

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Crossroads
After the Second World War the United States knew what the effects were of an atomic explosion on a city of civilians, but information about the impacts of the explosion on military technology was still lacking. The army therefore proceeded to conduct tests using out-of-service boats. They chose the bay of Bikini Atoll for the testing, and the operation was given the name Crossroads. Conner's film uses material that was shot during an underwater atomic explosion, when several cameras were used to record the explosion from various distances. These hypnotizing images, with fascinating energy, are underscored by minimalist music composed by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley.
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Crossroads

Bruce Conner
United States / 1976 / 36 min.
section: Notes on War
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Czech Peace
1. radar 2. peaceful landscape 3. America in Bohemia 4. rural inhabitants rise up 5. woods: target of political marketing 6. military police alters the locality's relevance 7. media war between politicians and engaged citizens 8. opponents' discursive weapons grow more sophisticated and louder 9. global issues of international pacifists made tangible in Bohemia 10. Bush replaced by Obama, barbed wire has to come down The army occupies a hilltop, reserving it for an American radar system promoted by Czech politicians and rejected by much of society, while the local inhabitants look for ways of protecting the place where they live.
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Czech Peace

Filip Remunda, Vít Klusák
Czech Republic / 89 min.
section: Notes on War
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Night and Fog
With his medium-length documentary, Night and Fog, the French director revisits the phenomenon of systemic extermination of ethnic peoples, which in its terrifying perfection is symbolized by the Nazi concentration camps of modern history. Alain Resnais’ documentary short film follows the woeful development of the mass death camp model: from the trigonometric measurement of space, the construction of buildings, and the deportation of the first prisoners and their intake at camp processing centers to the routine operation of death factories and ultimately the most economical killing of all – a single human rebellion, the “rebellion of death,” which could have been born in powerlessness.
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Night and Fog

Alain Resnais
France / 1956 / 34 min.
section: Notes on War
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Obedience
In May 1962, a classic series of experiments took place at Yale University. In response to the Adolf Eichmann trial, and consequently to Hannah Arendt's essay on the banality of evil, Stanley Milgram decided to investigate how willingly participants would respond to orders coming from authorities that defied their conscience. Volunteers, both male and female, were divided up into teachers and students. The teacher would ask the students (who were in a separate room) a series of questions. Their punishment for giving a wrong answer would be an electric shock, which would intensify on an ad hoc basis. The film, originally intended as teaching material, would later go on to serve as an instrument confirming the validity of Milgram's findings.“Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the person dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, with defiance or submission, to the commands of others.” — Stanley Milgram---Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20101216075927/http://home.swbell.net/revscat/perilsOfObedience.html
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Obedience

Stanley Milgram
United States / 1962 / 45 min.
section: Notes on War
Czech Premiere
Reichsautobahn
The middle part of the German Trilogy, which also includes Deutschlandbilder (1983) and Der VW Komplex (1989), documents the construction of a monumental motorway across Germany. A massive “marketing campaign” surrounded the project, featuring a concrete monument with aesthetic power similar to Leni Riefenstahl's bodies of male and female athletes in The Triumph of the Will. Bitomsky edited an narrated archive collage that reveals how the media image of Nazi Germany was created. The motorway, which branched like concrete veins through the landscape, was meant to symbolize economic growth and the building of a better future. It represents the rise and fall of a megalomaniacal vision that was ended by the Second World War.“When you can make a documentary, you do two things, to look at the world and to create the image of it. These things are never the same, the image is the image, the world is the world.”---Source: https://mubi.com/cast/hartmut-bitomsky
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Reichsautobahn

Hartmut Bitomsky
West Germany / 1986 / 90 min.
section: Notes on War
Czech Premiere
Serious Games I
The U.S. military not only routinely employs virtual reality and gaming technology for recruitment and combat training purposes, but also for treating its war veterans suffering from PTSD. These combat simulators are often difficult to differentiate from the freely available video games used primarily for “abreaction therapy.” Four standalone films, originally video installations, were shot directly at American military combat centers. In each of the films, Harun Farocki calls attention to the subtle differences between computer simulations and real war exercises while critically reflecting on the ever-closer links between war, the entertainment industry, and modern technology. “Knowing that digital landscapes and scenarios are used to prepare soldiers for war, we found it interesting to show a simple opposition: that very similar images are used for both preparation and for helping to treat the consequences of war!” — Harun Farocki ---Source: http://neural.it/2012/11/harun-farocki-interview-serious-games-in-samos/
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Serious Games I

Harun Farocki
Germany / 2010 / 8 min.
section: Notes on War
Czech Premiere
Stepping Out
The lives of Germans and Americans, civilians and soldiers, and the worlds of strict military order and irrational passions collide and clash from World War II up until the withdrawal of troops in the 1990s. Academician Annette Brauerhoch crossed paths with both sides independently and on her own accord. Her own footage shot on an 8mm camera shows her engaging in intimate relations with African-American soldiers in the nightclubs scattered around the local US military base. The protagonist’s relentless search for distractions was simultaneously shot on 16mm film by director Eva C. Heldmann. This combination of two narrative perspectives gives a layered portrait of a woman's desire, who asserts herself in a strongly macho environment. “To my mind, war movies create a fantasy in which sexualised power is violently acted out but in which the violence of sexuality can also be enjoyed.”
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Stepping Out

Eva Heldmann
Germany / 2000 / 64 min.
section: Notes on War
Czech Premiere
The Atomic Cafe
This cult collage of archival footage from the 1940s to the 1960s offers an absurdly humorous look at life in the atomic age. A subversive juxtaposition of American propaganda films, educational films, commercials, and newspaper reports, it presents a media image of the world in which those now in their 60s grew up. Cold War paranoia and the threat of nuclear war seeped into their lives in many bizarre ways. The media of the time created a kind of hypothetical universe, a paradoxical nuclear culture of exploding nuclear bombs, war heroism, and pop songs with atomic themes.“The Atomic Café suggests a certain sickness in the country’s soul, daring to poke fun at our perverse brew of utopianism and paranoia.”---Source: https://www.villagevoice.com/2018/07/31/newly-restored-the-atomic-cafe-is-just-as-vital-as-ever/
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The Atomic Cafe

Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty
United States / 1982 / 86 min.
section: Notes on War
Czech Premiere
The Bizarre World of Kremlin Propaganda
Pazderka lived in Russia for many years and witnessed firsthand the rise of a mass propaganda machine fueled by state-run TV channels that were, and still are, fully orchestrated by the Kremlin. Using the Ukraine Crisis from 2014 to the present as an example, Pazderka will show how this fine-tuned and meticulously crafted propaganda machine fundamentally influences how ordinary Russians think and paints a picture of aggression against Ukraine and murder as a necessary evil for defending their country against an imaginary attack from the West.
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The Bizarre World of Kremlin Propaganda

Czech Republic / 90 min.
section: Notes on War
The War Game
This Oscar-winning docudrama shows in terrifying detail what a nuclear attack on Britain might look like. In a series of scenes that imitate a wartime newsreel style, we see glimpses of charred bodies, buildings damaged beyond repair, and mass executions of looters and rioters flash onscreen. However, the roles as we know them from typical British patriotic documentaries have been reversed here in provocative fashion. The oppressor who seeks to maintain order after a nuclear explosion is not the enemy soldiers, but rather the British government. The film, originally produced for the BBC, was found by the station's management to be so disturbing that they refused to broadcast it. After its short release at the National Film Theatre in London in 1966 and subsequent screenings at film festivals abroad that same year, the film was buried in the vault for two decades before the wider British public was finally able to see it in 1985 on TV, one year after the premiere of the similarly themed made-for-TV film, Threads (1984).“Obviously beyond and above the question of form was my concern to use the film to help people break the silence in the media on the nuclear arms race.” — Peter Watkins---Source: http://pwatkins.mnsi.net/warGame.htm   In cooperation with BBC, the film screening is free of charge.
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The War Game

Peter Watkins
United Kingdom / 1966 / 48 min.
section: Notes on War
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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