Life Is Like a Steam on the River

Documentarians Robert Kirchhoff and Filip Remunda describe their adventure of making the Steam on the River.

Steam on the River (Pára nad řekou, Filip Remunda, Robert Kirchhoff, 2015)

The three protagonists portrayed in the film set off on their music career in the 1960s: Laco Deczi – trumpeter, Jan Jankej – contrabass player and Ľubomír Tamaškovič – saxophone. They all believe in themselves and the music they are playing. And they have no other choice. We wanted them to unite and become one in this frame of mind. Each of them is different. One feasts like an animal in the zoo, and another hunts for food in the jungle. But we have ruled out the option to make our film into a documentary portrait.

New Haven, Connecticut. Laco Deczi lives in a wooden cabin by the seaside. It is also the seat of the famous Yale University and a birthplace of the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. Population of one hundred and twenty thousand. A very peaceful place. We came here to meet with Laco during the preparations for the shooting. He drove us around the city, stopping by a pile of debris and regretting that we had not been there a week earlier to capture the demolition of a factory stack. He wanted the film to open with a scene in which he would have played his trumpet on the backdrop of falling bricks and demolition noise. The shooting itself unfolded along very similar lines, with Laco spicing the film up with his own ideas. The film opens with a scene of a police car with lights on pulling over in front of a jazz club, and a cop entering the club and later escorting Deczi back to the car. He orders him to put his hands on the car roof and advises him about his rights under arrest and arrests him for making three blunders in a song by Dahoud Clifford Brown. The cop was actually Laco’s neighbour living in the same street, Arpad, a son of Hungarian emigrants. Laco spontaneously surprised him during lunch and asked him if he could play a cop kicking out a jazzman from a music club for messing up a song. Although he’d had a couple of beers, Arpad did not think twice and went to get his car from the station, put on his uniform and joined us on the set. The film was scripted as a sequence of absurd images, a documentary jam-session, in which all characters freely improvise and react to situations which, albeit prearranged, were always left open-ended. So when Chris DePino, a former train conductor, lobbyist and a staunch political supporter of George Walker Bush, called to his ranch in Texas suggesting a recording of a concert of Czechoslovak jazzmen, Laco could have easily stood face to face with the second mightiest man on the planet. But rather than on this mighty man, we focused on Chris and Laco as too good friends who like to fool around.

In the same way, we worked with other characters. Regardless of whether we were shooting Jan Jankej in a St Nicholas costume earning his living in front of a German department store or Ľubo Tamaškovič who set out on a trip to Paris to find his spiritual brother Ray Stephen Oche, with whom he used to play to sold out clubs more than forty years ago. The road to fame is paved with hardship and doubt. The tiresome odyssey is exhausting but at the same time motivating. The everyday routine turns into a succession of expectations, quests, surprises, disappointments and... losses.

They have stayed true to themselves and they are now looking at each other. The situations thus open up the existential topic of the lightness of being, and of death. In the world inhabited by three billion musicians, these three come to the forefront. They appear as part of the absurd, humorous and tragic stories of their lives, as if navigating a mighty river. And time flows. Ľubo Tamaškovič in the film’s opening scene says: “Worldly fame is just a gust of wind. A human life is like a steam on the river, so why hurry?”





more articles from a section:  New release

dok.revueKdo se se mnou zatočíStudentka Katedry animované tvorby na FAMU Adéla Križovenská přibližuje vznik svého krátkého animovaného dokumentu Kdo se se mnou zatočí, který je součástí celovečerního pásma toho nejlepšího ze současných studentských animovaných filmů s názvem FAMU v kině 01, jenž je od 20. srpna v českých kinech.
dok.revueVěci mohou být i jinakJak se natáčel vnitřní portrét Jaroslava Duška s názvem Zrcadlení tmy?
dok.revueKrajina poslů smrti i taškářůDokumentaristka Květa Přibylová přibližuje práci na svém experimentálním snímku Země havrana z archy, který vybrali organizátoři nyonské přehlídky Visions du Réel do své online mediatéky, jež je pro filmové profesionály přístupná do 2. května na webu festivalu.
dok.revueM E Z E R Y PAMĚTINora Štrbová přibližuje svůj nový animovaný dokument M E Z E R Y (S P A C E S), ve kterém zpracovává osobní zkušenost se ztrátou paměti svého bratra. Snímek do 24. dubna uvádí online letošní ročník festivalu Visions du Réel.
dok.revueStopy Jedličkovy krajinyDokumentarista Petr Záruba přibližuje svůj nový film Jan Jedlička: Stopy krajiny o malíři Janu Jedličkovi. Snímek bude uveden na letošním ročníku festivalu Visions du Réel.
dok.revueKlavír je příliš těžkýEliška Cílková přibližuje svůj nový dokument Pripjať Piano, v němž pátrala po opuštěných klavírech i vzpomínkách v uzavřené zóně dávné černobylské tragédie. Snímek je od 17. do 24. dubna k vidění online v rámci letošního ročníku festivalu Visions du Réel.
dok.revueVlci jako hrozba, nebo přirozenost?Dokumentarista Martin Páv představuje svůj nový film Vlci na hranicích o vztahu lidí na Broumovsku k vlkům, vracejícím se na toto území. Film klade zásadní otázky o vztahu člověka a přírody – do jaké míry máme potřebu mít život pod kontrolou a do jaké míry jsme ochotni zahrnout do svých životů nepředvídatelnost ve světě, který nepatří jenom nám? Snímek bude 1. května k vidění online v rámci letošního ročníku festivalu Visions du Réel, a to v sekci Grand Angle.
dok.revueJak nemluvit jazykem apokalypsy?Dokumentaristka a publicistka Apolena Rychlíková přibližuje svůj dokument Češi jsou výborní houbaři, jehož název odkazuje na známou báseň Milana Kozelky. Nový film Apoleny Rychlíkové bude součástí šesté série Českého žurnálu a jeho premiéra proběhne na festivalu Jeden svět.
dok.revueJak jsem potkala losyHana Nováková o losech, lidech a filmech, co potřebují čas. Amoosed.
dok.revuePsí láskaRežisérku Lindu Kallistovou Jablonskou vždy zajímali lidé, kteří jdou za hranice svých možností. Oslovila ji proto životní cesta české musherky Jany Henychové, která nejraději tráví čas o samotě za polárním kruhem, jen se psím spřežením. Dokument Psí láska, který má premiéru na letošním festivalu Jeden svět, může být podle režisérky inspirací pro ty, kteří se bojí žít svůj sen. Pro dok.revue přibližuje vznik svého nového dokumentu.

starší články

4.15DOK.REVUE
October 19, 2015


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 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 BoháčkováIntroductionCzech docs of the year 2019Welcome 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.Kamila Boháčkovávideo dok.revueMasterclass: Sergej Dvorcevoj23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival