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:

New releaseShooting About KunderaDocumentarian Miloslav Šmídmajer describes the process of making a documentary about Milan Kundera with the working title “Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance.” Miloslav ŠmídmajerThemeNest in the bedroomPeter Hames, well-known British film historian and author of the book The Czechoslovak New Wave sent his remembrance to Karel Vachek to our magazine.Peter HamesThemeNever stop laughingPaolo Benzi, the Italian film producer and founder of the independent film production company Okta Film, describes for dok.revue how he met famous Czech documentary filmmaker Karel Vachek, who passed away last year. Paolo Benzi is also the main tutor of the Emerging producers in Ji.hlava IDFF.Paolo BenziThemeBehold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightenedIn this English issue of dok.revue we have collected some remembrances to Karel Vachek, the respected Czech documentarist who died in December 2020 at the age of 80. One of the contributors is Olaf Möller, a well-known film theorist and critic collaborating with many renowned film magazines (Film Comment or Sight & Sound), film museums and festivals (e.g. Il Cinema Ritrovato or International Film Festival Rotterdam).Olaf MöllerThemeEvery human being should get to wear comfy shoesThe Czech documentarist Karel Vachek was a chairperson of the jury at Yamagata international documentary film festival (YIDFF) in 2009. The board member of YIDFF and the former director of this festival, Asako Fujioka, has a remembrance of him smoking his pipe and going to the mountains with Japanese poet and filmmaker Yoshimasu Gozo to recite poetry to the skies.Asako FujiokaThemeLike the dog on the beach...American film historian Alice Lovejoy writes her remembrance of Karel Vachek, the remarkable Czech documentarist to whom we dedicate this English issue of dok.revue.Alice LovejoyInterviewThe times of lifelong careers are overAn interview with documentarian Jindřich Andrš, whose film A New Shift won the Czech competition section Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF2020.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewGoing to the Polish Turf with Our Own TeamInterview with documentary filmmakers Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák about their latest joint film project Once Upon a Time in Poland that shows how religion and faith are misused in contemporary Poland for mass manipulation and political purposes. The film‘s Czech premiere was held as part of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2020.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionDok.revue 1.21This issue is dedicated to the doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel VachekKamila Boháčková