What 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.


I was inspired to shoot FREM by a thought/consideration that we live in a period when we, as a biological species, meet limits of the matter we are made of, and look for ways “to improve ourselves” or to expand from natural limits. We generate a huge amount of data we are no longer able to absorb, orientate ourselves in or put connections together, which results in creating artificial neuronal networks that should do all those things instead of us. To a certain extent, they are autonomous and we do not exactly know what happens in them since they have already started to use their own patterns of thinking. 

In fact, we stimulate a carbon revolution on the basis of silicon and hope that the silicon will save the carbon and will help us to solve more and more complex problems we make. The aim of the effort of this silicon evolution is the so-called GAI – general artificial intelligence, Holy Grail the researchers in the field of artificial intelligence form an attachment to. By saying “general” we mean that it will be able to learn and develop by itself and will also be able to generalize its information and use it for solving various problems. Its intelligence is going to increase exponentially until it reaches the so-called “technological singularity”. At that moment, we won´t be able to keep up with its intelligence anymore. These are the thoughts, a hypothetical situation, which kicked off the film FREM.


I suppose the most difficult was to get into the head of artificial intelligence whose eyes serve the viewer to look at the world, and do so with limited means offered by the medium of the film (picture and sound). The thing is that it is not possible to get out of the captivity of our own human brain, not to anthropomorphize, to break limits of one´s own imagination. I did not know if I succeed in making people connect to an entity they don´t understand and if I make them want to look through its eyes. That is why there is a narrative line of a person/researcher in the script we shot as the plan A. At the same time I tried to make a film – plan B – which would be a non-anthropocentric one. A film where a human stands on the same level as any other creature in nature, as a stone, a seal or a snowflake. It was possible thanks to the perspective of a subjective camera from bird´s eye view and I believe it is good to master such perspective, at least in connection to climate crisis – to be able to perceive oneself as a microscopic part of nature and ecosystem of the Earth without having any superior position. FREM was shot in Antarctica where climate changes appear more than anywhere. The film has thus gained a kind of dystopian context, looking as a land after human existence, an after-human world from the perspective of a non-human witness/observer.


To shoot this film, which is in fact a documentary sci-fi about sophisticated artificial intelligence, in Antarctica was demanding physically as well as mentally. It meant this in particular: to live in a mouldy ship container without toilet, shower or internet, to climb glaciers in rubber boots, to wash the dishes in salty water from the sea or by licking the plate, to cook on a two-hotplate cooker where only the first degree works, to thaw mineral water for half an hour, to heat for two hours a day at the most with a small electric heater, to dry wet clothes on a line placed in an ideal height above the heater to have it at least a bit ready after two hours, every morning to wake up into stable 0 degrees Celsius we got thanks to breathing out into our 2.5 x 6 x 2.5 iron box during the night, to wait for food supplies from a Polish base until sea currents slowly wash away drifted pieces of ice, making disembarkment from a rubber boat impossible, from the shore, to hear night weather forecasts from a walkie-talkie – which was the only possibility to hear, at least for a short moment, another human voice than mine or the other two persons´ from the container (the crew consisted of 3 people), to decide between using energy from the generator to charge batteries or to cook an instant soup, to eat countless packages of the same instant soup – zupy pieczarkowej – because the Polish cook lacked any creativity during preparation of our supplies, to fly with a Chinese-made drone in wild winds and to lose it twice – the GPS shows appearance of its last signal in a snow-white darkness. Such was the everyday reality of our container. Yes, it was a bit absurd.

Translated by Petra Ocelková

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starší články

25. 09. 2020

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