Czech docs of the year 2019

Welcome at the English double issue of dok.revue 2019. This winter issue looks back upon the Czech documentary scene in the year 2019 and serves as an annual book of the most (internationally) interesting Czech documentaries and articles about them at dok.revue.

Kiruna, A Brand New World

„Czech documentaries have been recognized increasingly at festivals and in cinemas this year for their boldness and willingness to take on complex issues with imaginative approaches, whether exploring the impact of electronic sound on society, or the disastrous effects of Swedish iron mining,“ claims Will Tizard, journalist and documentarian based in Czech Republic, who covers the film sector in Central and Eastern Europe for Variety. For English dok.revue, he originally wrote an article about emerging Czech female documentarians, with leading lights recently screened at the 23rd Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. 

This year, Czech documentaries were presented at prestigous festivals. The docu by the first-time female filmmaker Johana Ožvold called The Sound is Innocent was screened at Visions du Réel in international competition Burning Lights. From the pioneer sound engineers working behind the Iron Curtain, through the French avant-garde composers, up to the post-modern creators of digital sonic artefacts, Ožvold summons an abstract landscape that is haunting and yet achingly beautiful. You can read a review in this English issue. 

In Nyon´s international competition of feature films, another Czech documentary film was screened. Kiruna, A Brand New World made by the first-time female filmmaker Greta Stocklassa, shows the town of Kiruna, in Sweden, which must relocate: the iron mine over which it was built is threatening to swallow it up. Stocklassa creates a subtle film around three protagonists who must also re-build their identity: a high school girl rediscovers her Sami roots, a young Yemeni refugee hopes to obtain asylum, a nostalgic teacher struggles to accept the upcoming destruction of his town. In this English double issue, you can read an interview with Stocklassa. 

The directorial debut by the French-Czech producer Artemio Benki called Solo was set to world-premiere as part of the ACID selection during the Cannes Film Festival. This film also wan the Czech competition called Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF this year. In his film, Benki follows a journey of the Argentinean virtuoso Martin Períno who ended up in a psychiatric ward, unable to find his peace and reach his purpose. You can read a review of this film in current English issue. 

However, there will be other Czech documentaries screened at prestigous international festival in the year 2020. At International Film Festival Rotterdam, there will be screened the new film essay by doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel Vachek called Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy. In this double issue, you can read an interview with Vachek about his new film. Another Czech documentary, FREM by Viera Čákany, will be screened at Berlinale 2020. You can read more about this original essay shot in Antarctica in the section New release

In this English double issue, you can mostly find English translations of Czech articles published at dok.revue this year. You can read interviews with important Czech filmmakers or reviews of interesting documentaries, or articles written by filmmakers themselves about their new films (section called New release). In section called Sport, you can read about teaching documentary filmmaking at schools at Visegrad countries. This was also a topic of the panel discussion held during 23rd Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. You can also see a video from the masterclass of Kazakh filmmaker Sergey Dvortsevoy held at this festival in 2019.

December 17, 2019

from current issue:

New releaseOn Adultery as Mirror of Our Own SelvesBarbora Jíchová Tyson, a visual artist, who has been living in America for seventeen years, has finished her first feature film Talking About Adultery this year. According to the author, the film is an essayistic collage and represents a perspective on humanity, which holds the mirror up to us all.Barbora Jíchová TysonNew releaseFREMWhat is it like to shoot a film in Antarctica? Is it possible to get into the head of artificial intelligence? And what is GAI? All this is described by the documentarist Viera Čákanyová in the text she wrote about her new film FREM in dok.revue.Viera ČákanyováNew releaseHavel Speaking, Can You Hear Me?What were the two last years in the life of former dissident, ex-president Václav Havel like? How did he reflect on the fact that he was gradually leaving this world? Documentarian Petr Jančárek talks about his upcoming documentary film capturing the final stretch of Havel’s, life, the rough cut of which was shown at the Ji.hlava IDFF in the Studio 89 section marking this year’s anniversary of the so-called Velvet Revolution.Petr JančárekThemeEmerging Czech female documentariansIs there a new tide of emerging female documentarians in Czech cinema? What’s fascinating about the work of Czech female filmmakers like Johana Ožvold, Greta Stocklassa or Viera Čákany?Will TizardSportHow to Teach Documentary FilmmakingThis year’s Ji.hlava IDFF offered a panel discussion on how documentary filmmaking is taught in Visegrad countries. Methods used to teach documentary filmmaking in different V4 countries were discussed by lecturers from selected schools. Vít Janeček introduced documentary courses at Prague’s FAMU, Attila Kékesi represented Hungarian University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest, Viera Čákanyová talked about study programmes at Slovak Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava – VSMU, and Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz discussed documentary education at National Film School in Lodz. What emerged from their fruitful discussion? Vít Janeček, Kamila Boháčková, Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz, Attila Kékesi, Peter KerekesPoemThe reanimation of Mr. PuiuKhavn De La CruzReviewA Place to Take a BreathThe film journalist Janis Prášil compares two documentary portraits of this year – Forman vs. Forman and Jiří Suchý: Tackling Life with Ease on his blog.Janis PrášilReview Music as a Lag Between Death and InfinityJanis Prášil ruminates on Solo – this year´s winner of Ji.hlava Czech Joy section – which comes to cinemas. Did the picture succeed in depicting the inner world, so hard to portray, of a mentally ill musician? And what if it is the illness itself which enables people to take a look into the grievous core of being?Janis PrášilReviewOn Sounds by ImageThe film journalist Antonín Tesař writes about the new film The Sound Is Innocent directed by Johana Ožvold.Antonín TesařInterviewGreta Stoklassa: I Read Rather than Preach the RealityAn interview with the director Greta StoklassaKamila BoháčkováInterviewTo Surprise MyselfWhile the main competition at the International Karlovy Vary Film Festival does not feature any Czech title, the festival’s documentary section has one Czech film to offer: A documentary road movie by Martin Mareček entitled Over the Hills exploring the relationship between a father and a son, as well as the distance that separates us from others. Unlike his previous socially engaged films, the latest title provides a personal and intimate insight. But as Martin Mareček put it in his interview for dok.revue – what is intimate is universal. Marek Hovorka, Petr Kubica, Kamila BoháčkováInterviewKarel Vachek: Films Just Have to Make You Laugh!One of the most original Czech filmmakers Karel Vachek made his ninth film novel called Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy. Fifty years after Prague Spring and thirty years after the Velvet Revolution, Karel Vachek “with his inner laughter” looks back on the evolution of our society and predicts a transformation to direct democracy based on the possibilities of the internet that will allow for the engagement of the whole mankind without the need of representatives. His film Communism will be screened at the beginning of next year at the International Film festival Rotterdam.Kamila Boháčkovávideo dok.revueMasterclass: Sergej Dvorcevoj23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival