Living with inner laughter

Dok.revue 2.20

From Karel Vachek’s film Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy

Welcome to the second English issue of dok.revue 2020. Here you can find a selection of articles from this year’s Czech issues of dok.revue which could interest our international readers. 

I especially recommend you the interview with a doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel Vachek, who unfortunately passed away on the 21th of December this year. In his interview, he speaks about his last film 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. 

In this issue, you can also read the article from an American film historian Alice Lovejoy who discusses how her book Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military came to be. The book was first published by Indiana University Press in 2015 and it will be published in a Czech translation by Jan Hanzlík in 2021. „The seeds for this book were planted in autumn 2003, when, in a drafty stone military building near Prague Castle, I found myself among stacks of metal film canisters, watching a newsreel segment that documentarian Karel Vachek had had made while serving in the Czechoslovak Army Film studio in the 1960s.,“ writes Lovejoy. 

In this issue you can find an article about the documentary film on another famous Czech filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer. „While finalizing Jan Švankmajer’s latest feature film Insects, producer Jaromír Kallista and surrealist Jan Švankmajer approached us with the request to use filmmaking as a medium to uncover and preserve the creative processes fermenting inside their film company Athanor,“ write Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha about their film Alchemical Furnace

There is one more Czech famous personality discussed in this issue – Václav Havel. In 2020, a Czech filmmaker Slávek Horák made a film called Havel. The documentary aspects of the biopic Havel were discussed for dok.revue by journalist, translator, dissident, and Charter 77 signatory Petruška Šustrová, politician, writer, historian, lawyer, and Charter 77 signatory Petr Pithart, and documentarian and sociologist Ivo Bystřičan. Is director Slávek Horák’s film Havel truly chaos that says nothing at all about the recent history of our Czech nation or its first president? Or are the filmmakers entitled to artistic license and allowed to create whatever they like, despite giving the film and its main character the name Havel? 

Our English issue also includes texts in which the individual filmmakers share the origins of their projects. However, all extend far beyond Czech borders. Czech journalist Tomáš Etzler describes his first feature-length documentary Heaven about his seven year´s stay in China and about a Chinese Christian-run orphanage. Ukrainian documentarian Ganna Iaroshevych writes how she has been preparing her new film called As Far As Possible, a portray of a man who lives in the Ukrainian mountains fighting against the extinction of water buffaloes. This film hasn´t been finished yet. 

Finally, you can read a poem by Mike Hoolboom, a leading figure of Canadian experimental filmmaking, whose films appear regularly at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. He was also the author of the Ji.hlava festival's spot in the year 2020.




2.20DOK.REVUE
December 14, 2020


from current issue:

Situational reviewThe creators of Havel didn’t know that they don’t know. And that’s the worst kind of not knowing!Is director Slávek Horák’s film Havel truly chaos that says nothing at all about the recent history of our Czech nation or its first president? Or are the filmmakers entitled to artistic license and allowed to create whatever they like, despite giving the film and its main character the name Havel? And what does it say about the times we live in that from the legacy of the influential playwright, intellectual, politician, and master of words, the filmmakers chose to focus solely on his slightly sensationalised private life?Kamila BoháčkováNew releaseHeaven over Today’s ChinaWhat is the story behind the feature-length documentary, Heaven, focusing on a Chinese Christian-run orphanage that is also a testimony about today’s China? Director Tomáš Etzler sees the film as a logical ending of his seven years in the Middle Kingdom. The second contribution was written by editor Adéla Špaljová who describes her collaboration with the director on the creation of the final cut of the documentary.Tomáš Etzler, Adéla ŠpaljováNew releaseAs Far As Possible Ukrainian documentarian Ganna Iaroshevych describes how she has been preparing her new film called As Far As Possible. It´s a portray of a man who decided to leave Germany and lives in the Ukrainian mountains fighting against the extinction of water buffaloes. „Our film tells about an alternative way of slow living close to nature and animals, and in harmony with yourself. And it seems to us that now this topic is especially relevant to many people around the globe,“ says Ganna Iaroshevych.Ganna JaroševičNew releaseThe Alchemical FurnaceJan Daňhel describes the concept behind his documentary film Alchemical Furnace that portrays the figure and work of Jan Švankmajer.ThemeIt comes right from the bellyIn this personal essay, a Danish sound designer Peter Albrechtsen remembers one of the world's greatest and most unique modern film composers, Jóhann Jóhannsson. This article was written in 2018, shortly after the Jóhannsson´s death, but has never been published.PoemGramsci’s NotebooksMike HoolboomInterviewKarel Vachek: Films Just Have to Make You Laugh!A doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel Vachek unfortunately passed away on the 21th of December 2020. We publish here the interview he made in 2019 just after releasing his last film, the 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. Kamila BoháčkováNew BookArmy Film and the Avant Garde?American film historian Alice Lovejoy discusses how her book Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military came to be. First published by Indiana University Press in 2015, the book will be published in a Czech translation by Jan Hanzlík in 2021 by the National Film Archive. The idea for the book emerged during the years the author lived in the Czech Republic.Alice Lovejoy