Czech Docs Project
PRESENTATION OF SELECTED FILMS
September 11, 2007
Hosted by Červená fedma
Directors and producers of the films presented at the panel: Olga Sommerová, Kateřina Kačerovská, Gabriela Kontra, Margareta Hrůza, Janek Růžička, Helena Třeštíková, Pavel Štingl, Radim Špaček, Radim Procházka, Miloslav Novák, Keith Jones, Jeffery Brown, Tom Faierabend
Previews of the films can be found below.
Each year, the Catalogue of Upcoming Documentary Films serves as an overview of Czech documentary film. Throughout the following year, the Institute of Documentary Films, Czech Film Center and the Jihlava IDFF will distribute the catalogue at major European documentary film festivals and markets. In 2008, the catalogue will be made available at the following events: Berlinale, Nyon, Crossing Europe Linz, Hot Docs Toronto, Cracow FF, Silver Docs, Discop Budapest, Sunny Side of the Docs La Rochelle, FID Marseille, Sarajevo, Zagreb Dox, Sofia International FF, Sheffield IDFF, Leipzig IFF, IDFA Amsterdam, Cannes IFF, Tribeca Film Festival New York, Pusan IFF, Toronto IFF.
In addition to the printed catalogue, all films become part of the unique online database of Czech documentary films. Once finished, the films films move from the database of upcoming films to the database of Czech finished documentary films that currently holds nearly 600 films made after 1989. Both databases can be searched using filters and the database of finished films offers also stills and previews.
Directors and films presented at the event:
This is a personal exploration of the physical and mental repercussions of emigration. In 1969 a pregnant 18-year old girl flees her country with her married lover as the Russian tanks roll into the streets of Prague. They end up in Norway. They have a daughter. They become successful in the world of theater. At the height of fortune the beautiful mother decides to send her 15-year-old daughter away. They are never to live together after that. Now the mother lives in Los Angeles and the father has moved back to Prague. Contact between the family today is primarily through sporadic phone calls for the mother. The movie is an emotional journey of the daughter trying to map the disintegration of the family. It is an intimate story of her own family, with gleams of her childhood in Norway, her exile in the USA, and her "return" to the Czech Republic. Scenes of lonely characters set in different landscapes intercut with tragicomic meetings of family members who live their separate lives in various countries. The author is searching for answers to find out where her true home really is, searching in Prague, Oslo and Los Angeles.
The Stable Theatre was the first independent black theatre in South Africa, founded in the culturally mixed city of Durban. Its most famous product is Broadway playwright and pop star Mbongeni Ngema, a controversial figure tainted by scandal and accusations of racism. In an attempt to return to his roots, Ngema begins work on an ambitious new musical designed to tell the Stable's history. Unseen fault lines are crossed, and corruption, fraud and politics threaten to engulf the project. At the same time, the film's producer Deon Maas unexpectedly becomes a reality TV celebrity and decides to use his new public notoriety to investigate the situation. As the musical collapses and the theatre itself slides into failure, the film becomes a road movie through the minefield of contemporary South African politics and a search for the deeper problems at the heart of the Stable Theatre's collapse.
What does childbirth look like? How can it affect the baby's life? And how does it affect the life of the woman? What are the current conditions in this country under which we bring children into this world? In this film we explore a terrain that is somewhat dangerous at times; we maneuvre between the camps of mutually hostile groups: supporters of medically controlled birth on the one hand, and natural birth supporters on the other. Their argument involves the very nature of childbirth. Is it a medical procedure or is it an intimate event in the life of a woman? In this situation, we as women cannot be merely unbiased observers for we are directly affected by the whole conflict. This film traces the state of Czech obstetrics. However, ours is not a common, dryly objective portrait. Rather, it is a guide for personal use as well as a comprehensive tool that provides insight into the issue.
Peace with Seals
Framed by two stories, this feature documentary fable Peace with Seals deals with the concept of "human nature". The first story is about a seal named Gaston who, according to the Prague Zoo director, became "the most famous animal on earth" after he managed to reach Germany during a devastating flood. At the height of his fame, Gaston was adopted by the former Prime Minister Gross; after Gaston's death, the Prague Zoo erected a statue in his memory. The second story took place 50 years earlier and tells the life story of a seal named Ulysses, caught in Sardinia by a Milan photojournalist who, in front of the cameras, tossed the animal into the famous Di Trevi fountain. Patellani - a friend of Federico Fellini's and a specialist on film stars - was fined for his action. The reason, however, was not the killing of a baby seal but the pollution of water in the fountain. Fellini took inspiration from the story for "La Dolce Vita"; referring to photojournalists such as Patellani, he coined the term "paparazzi", i.e. those who create the "nature" of contemporary man. What changes mark our relationship with animals? Today there are urban nature reserves, aquariums instead of oceans, and seal hunting can be booked with a travel agent. In the time of Homer, seals were the most widespread inhabitant of Europe's largest biotope, the Mediterranean Sea. Today, with sun tanning being so fashionable, people have replaced the seals on the beaches. Seals have become one of the most endangered mammals in Europe. Where will we be able to encounter wild animals in the future? How are animals being domesticated? And what is the domestication of people?
For the Love of Prague
For his new love Zdenka left the American cartoon director Gene Deitch in 1958 his family in New York and relocated to Prague. What followed surpasses the most fantastic imagination of Hollywood filmmakers. Besides films as Tom and Jerry or Popeye, he made dozens of short cartoons with Czech animators. (Munro won the Oscar in 1961). As a jazz enthusiast, he has recorded the home blues session of John Lee Hooker a time before the first official recording. His life-love story is an intelligent and chilling account of 40 years under communism, lived by an American "guest".
Medela, Latin for Help
A charity project led by Czech women supports the building of a school in Guinea, university education of Peruvian Indians and an orphanage for HIV positive children in Cambodia.
The Report on Lodz
A former Jewish ghetto remained a ghetto - memories of witnesses, unique period photographs and the lives of today's inhabitants of the ghetto.
René – Czech Villon
The incredible story of a young man accompanied by a film camera from the age of eighteen, on his life's journey between prisons and short intermezzos outside; after another eighteen years, we leave him as a 36-year-old man, an unlikely writer, a seriously ill patient, and unfortunately still an incorrigible criminal. The story of René "Czech Villon" unfolds against the backdrop of significant political changes in Central Europe whose reflections remain omnipresent in the film. René's history opens in a prison full of socialist banners, continues during the "Velvet Revolution" and finds him back in prison at the time of the Czech Republic joining the EU.
Can Czech politicians acknowledge their own mistakes? Do they have a sense of humour? The answers are explored in a film account of the so-called Sarajevo assassination which was meant to unseat Václav Klaus as Prime Minister. With the help of Václav Klaus (current Czech President), Václav Havel, Jan Ruml, Ivan Pilip and many other participants and observers, we put together a portrait of Czech politics in the second half of the 1990s.
Roses for Rome
A remarkable story about an existential endeavour to survive in severe mountain conditions and the roses cared for by a lonely old man with a secret.
Murders in Live Transmission
On 13 March, 1964, 28-year old Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death on the street in NYC. It was revealed later that 38 people in the neighbourhood in some way witnessed the crime that lasted 50 minutes. None of the witnesses called the police. The film explores the phenomenon of the so-called "bystander effect". Radim Spacek's film about indifference uses elements of both documentary and fiction film.
Prague Legacy, currently in production, explores the political history of Czechoslovakia through the story of Ladislav Feierabend and his family. Written and directed by Tom Feierabend, Ladislav's grandson, the film will offer an original and particularly intimate view of major events in recent Czechoslovak history, including some of the darkest moments of the twentieth century.