Festival minute

fourth day, 2036: Documentary Oddyssey

The multi-layered discussion 2036: Documentary Oddyssey, documentary cinema in the next 20 years brought together exceptional speakers representing varied visionary perspectives. Mike Hoolboom, the legendary Canadian experimental filmmaker and writer, Charlie Phillips, the head of current affairs docs column in the British journal The Guardian, Michal Bregant, the general director of the National Film Archive, Marek Moudrý, the founder of Machine learning community, and George Clark, the former film curator of British gallery of modern art Tate Modern, presented their ideas on development of documentary cinematography and important aspects of its presence in the discussion moderated by the festival programmer Andrea Slováková. The debate considered the issue of documentary film development from three points of view: documentary film as a stylistic form carrying a certain set of values in its conventions (certain types of references to reality and factuality, ethical limits, relations to shown characters, ways of storytelling), documentary film as a production and distribution practice and an artefact for archiving, and also a documentary film as an aesthetic practice resulting from various creative methods (which might also include self-reflection towards a medium or means of expression, interactivity, active role of audience or devices and computers “helping” to create a film).

Marek Moudrý summarized the possibilities how computers contribute to creative process already today – they can arrange the material or identify certain elements and details in images and thus assign meanings to them. In addition to that, these “competences” of computers are becoming more and more precise and perfect. However, he also remarked that a strong message represents an important characteristic feature of a documentary film, and this is exactly where the computer is “behindhand” – it is behind with an ability to interpret things in a critical way and create a worthy message or information. Charlie Phillips said, “without intending to sound distopianly”, that short forms of audio-visual messages do represent a dominant format watched online and that ingenious (and only hardly  visible) processes of Google and Facebook sorting and favouring a chosen content do contribute to our choice of format, through which we, internet users, perceive the content. However, users´ habits and current behaviour cannot be the only determining factor of content formation. Mike Hoolboom pointed out “a device which has changed everything – the portable phone”, which enables us to create our own archive constantly and carry it with us all the time. Michal Bregant emphasized that archiving audio-visual material is only one way memory institutions can contribute to future reflection of the present. More important is to make the material available, since “sharing is the key”. However, he also emphasized that it is simply impossible for one institution to create archive of all audio-visual material emerging every day and that the role of educated curators well informed in digitally created contents and works is crucial. This opened up the question of values which serve us to choose from the plentiful and continually emerging content. George Clark explained how massive the current absorption of influence of film is in fine arts and how art and information or reference to reality create an important live form of visual arts. However, we have to think about technologies of presentation and ways, tools and practice through which it is possible to get (now and also in future) the documentary content to its recipients. A necessity to create our own individual systems (and “non-systems”) and orders of our personal and also public sources and archives we follow, is one of the conclusions of this visionary discussion. That is what makes us distinguish things and assign values to content in a subjective and individual way.

29. 10. 2016

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 LovejoySportPandemic as an opportunityJi.hlava's Emerging Producers discuss the opportunity that can emerge from crisisSteve RickinsonInterviewThe 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