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.

17. 12. 2019

from current issue:

Situational reviewCaught in the Net should really be on the net if it’s going to change anythingDiscussion about the new film by Vít Klusák a Barbora Chalupová Caught in the NetKamila BoháčkováSituational reviewWill our civilisation negotiate this turn?American documentarian Jeff Gibbs’ activist film Planet of the Humans, which criticises the way we treat renewable energy sources, has evoked numerous controversial reactions. It’s no surprise that the producer is well-known filmmaker Michael Moore, who released the film freely on YouTube on Earth Day, when the worldwide corona virus pandemic was at its peak.Kamila BoháčkováNew 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 releaseSun of the Living DeadAnna Kryvenko on the loss of compassion in the post-factual age, the battle with the chaos and hostility of the universe, and how to create a documentary essay from archive materials.Anna KryvenkoNew releaseThe story of a small provincial townNovice Russian director Dmitrij Bogoljubov tells dok.revue about the circumstances surrounding the origin of his new film Town of Glory, a co-production with Czech production company Hypermarket Film and Czech Television. The film uncovers the mentality of Yelnya, a provincial Russian town that is one of the most depressing in the country and where the legacy of the Great Patriotic War still lingers – something Putin’s establishment has successfully exploited to gain the support of the local citizens. The film was available to stream for a short time in March on the portal DAFilms as a part of the festival One World Online. This fall it will be shown on Czech Television and possibly in cinemas as well.Dmitrij BogoljubovThemeThere’s more than one feminismA reflection on women documentarians inspired by Barbora Baronová’s book Women on WomenMartin ŠrajerTheoryBiopics and the Trembling Ethics of the Real We publish here the essay by one of the most prominent minds in film today, Timothy Corrigan, who presented his essay “Biopics and the Trembling Ethics of the Real” at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival in fall 2019 as a part of his lecture for students in the festival’s educational module Media and Documentary.Tereza HadravováInterviewWe have to start with ourselves, or nothing will changeAn interview with Macedonian documentarians Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevská, creators of the film Honeyland.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewNone of the big streaming platforms are buying documentaries now because people are so scared in their personal lives Challenges for the film industry and festivals in the age of the coronavirusRadim ProcházkaIntroductionWhen local is universaldok.revue 1.20Kamila Boháčková