Are Czechs happy? What do they strive for? Are Czechs impassive or do they desire personal and social changes? What is the feeling of a contemporary citizen of Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic? In March 2006 Ivan Vojnár's documentary searched for answers to some of these questions focused mostly on the reflection of personal issues and feelings. Has the social and political climate changed considerably since 1989? A waitress at an international hotel is setting tables for breakfast. Her feeling is that "not much has changed since the Revolution, perhaps just traveling, people are weary, they don't know who to vote for. I have a daughter who is to go to college, the things that we are facing, I am quite scared of all of it." Are the answers truthful or are they partial self-stylizations? Are the Czechs prone to accepting certain roles and masks? What is the problem? How to get rid of it? The film is not offering solutions; it just explores the ideas of present-day Czechs. French documentary filmmaker Jean Rouch says that cinéma vérité is not about representing truth but about truthful representation. Director Ivan Vojnár drew inspiration from public inquiry films from the 1960s: Jean Rouch's Chronique d'un été (1961), Chris Marker's Le Joli mai (1962) and the film of moral discomfort by Czech filmmaker Evald Schorm - Zrcadlení.
Remembering in Reflection (Remembering)
Two documentary films about disease, fear and hope – Reflection (dir. Evald Schorm, 1965) and Remembering (dir. Ivan Vojnár, 2007) – which chime together, in spite of being divided for more than 40 years. This documentary film brings together Evald Schorm and Ivan Vojnár. Schorm's film Zrcadlení inspired Vojnár's film poll that refers back to the search for lost ideals and the personal and social fight against fear. Is physical pain and disease a metaphor for a more general affliction? Schorm's Zrcadlení (1964) shifted the cinéma vérité style closer to a film essay, without aspiring to capture the sociological implications of the subject. Through questions about happiness which he posed to hospital patients, the director turns to the viewer and confronts human existence with the natural flow of time. Jan Špáta's authentic photography with its poetic compositions supplies a new thematic layer to the film; the protagonists often remain outside the camera's view, which helps to add general validity to very personal statements. Ivan Vojnár's project Rozpomínání revisits the hospital environment yet the questions have a clear sociological aspect - the director changes Schorm's "how to live" from its philosophical and figurative meaning into the everyday struggle with social and political realities. The range of respondents is very broad to include all social and age groups. The topics focus on the life in the Czech Republic at the beginning of the 21st century; in addition to questions regarding general values, happiness, sympathy or wealth, Vojnár asks about politics, Czech national character or attitudes to minorities. Authentic, mostly work environments of the protagonists also play an important part in the film.
A documentary about Jiří Krytinář and other people who have to cope with the handicap of their short height.
In the Garden
Each of us will experience a meeting with our own soul in some bend in the road of life. "Fate does not exist, it is merely the transient activity of man", says one of the inhabitants of the garden - a patient at the psychiatric clinic in Horní Beřkovice who appears in the film.
"Documentary made during the filming of Jacek Blawut's debut ""Before Twilight"" features retired actors in a rest home in the town of Skolimów. A spare camera captured old actors waiting to be called on the set. ""The Actors"" is a sincere film about waiting, full of subtle humor. How do the retired actors cope with the fact, they are no longer the stars on the big screen or the center of the stage?"
Prophets and Poets. Chapters from the Calendar.
This film is a mosaic of 14 Hrabal-like Prague characters from a university professor, philosopher, female poet and gardener to a street sweeper and their views on the preceding century as well as dreams and expectations for the new century.
Living in the age of reality TV, in a society hungry for sensation, it is easy to feed on the highly emotional stories of people whose futures are being shaped by dozens of professionals. "Cinematherapy" takes a slightly different approach. A commercial aired on Czech Television invited viewers to attend a casting and tell their stories. Later on, eleven of them underwent cinematherapy – provided by the camera as an intermediary between them and the outside world. Blurring the lines between feature film, documentary and reality show, the film does not offer the participants a plastic surgery or a reunion with a long lost friend but lets them witness their often bizarre lives and thus move forward in dealing with their issues.