Daniel’s World

Veronika Lišková speaks about the circumstances leading to the creation of her new documentary, Daniel’s World, that is to be released in Czech cinemas in autumn 2014

Daniel’s World

Three years ago, I got a phone call from my friend, producer Zdeněk Holý, who suggested a potential subject for a documentary film – paedophilia. He had seen a schematic TV report covering a case of child abuse by a paedophile and he conceived the idea to go and find, as he put it, “a harmless paedophile” and make a film about him. At first, I was not too enthusiastic about his idea. My view of the topic was influenced by the established and simplified media image and stereotypes. In my mind, I drew an equation between paedophilia, child pornography and child abuse. I did not recall theories regarding sexual orientation of Foglar, Carroll or Andersen or anything else that would make the view of the issue seem less black-and-white.

Not before long, Zdeněk called again. In the meantime, he got in contact with a man with a nick Jiří Fx100d, who was willing to meet up. The meeting took place in a slightly bizarre setting of a socialist “culture house”. With the throbbing sound of disco music in the background, we were talking to a quiet man with roving eyes and a little dog on his lap. He was talking about his first love, whom he had picked out at a playground under his window, about how he befriended her and her parents and became a favourite babysitting uncle, and about unsuccessful relationships with women and his future prospects. My meeting with Jirka and his online confessions were enough for me to decide that a film about “harmless paedophiles” is worth shooting. Not that I have been overcome by the messiah complex and wanted to start “advocating” these people. I felt rather compelled to cope with my own stereotypes. To somehow grasp the whole issue and try to understand it.

A number of members of the Czech paedophile community whom I met in the following months were willing to appear in the film, if I granted them anonymity. However, this would limit the shooting potential. I was considering various forms of disguise, but I did not want to portray the protagonists as mysterious phantoms. A paedophile has already become a spectre in the eyes of the society. It took almost a year, before I found Daniel – a student at a literary academy, who decided for a public coming-out by publishing his autobiographical book. Daniel told me that he had not encountered any significant problem with any one of those he came out to, and this was why there was no reason for him to hide his face.

Daniel’s World

We recorded Daniel’s world for a period of one year – from situations that were closely related to his life, through to confessions recorded by himself, even during his meetings with his friends from the paedophile community. The result is his delicate and intimate portrait. Even before its initial official release, we have already been confronted with situations in which we needed to explain ourselves, defending the film and its style as well as the individual scenes. There are people who seem to mind that the film shows paedophiles outside the established stereotypes. There have been worries about the audience’s approach to the film. Daniel and his friends from the community will clearly have to cope with the fears and prejudices of their surroundings also in the film arena. I believe that thanks to their courage and open approach to shooting, their struggle will be crowned with success.

Daniel’s World will be released in Czech cinemas this autumn.

Translated into English by Bára Rozkošná.