Golden Youth vs Lower Classes

The Czech director Richard Komárek tells the story of confrontation between rural life and Golden Youth from Prague

Five protagonists of docu-reality show Golden Youth (Jiří, Yeni, Renáto, Nicol, Michal)

The five-episode docu-reality show entitled Golden Youth offers entertainment combined with some serious food for thought. This is the greatest novelty this new documentary format brings. In a docu-reality show, entertainment always works as a “sweetener” stimulating spectators to reflect on topics which they would certainly avoid in a traditional documentary shroud.

Each of the environments into which the five young girls and boys from Prague are cast deals with its own specific issues. The gruesome conditions in a slaughterhouse, where the protagonists work, bring us to realise the value of human work and animal life, i.e. issues that today’s consumer society comfortably ignores. In the town of Chanov we are faced with racial prejudices. A military survival camp puts the team spirit of the protagonists to a test showing how important is the new generation’s ability to deal with war conditions. The next episode, set in Romanian Banat, brings us back to rural roots. A finally, a small senior home becomes a place of direct confrontation with ageing and gives the protagonists an opportunity to contemplate their future.

After a long discussion, we opted for the title Golden Youth – used in the general sense of the word rather than as a label referring to kids of rich parents (although some of our actors definitely qualify for this category). In post-war France, the term “Jeneusse dorée” (“gilded youth” originating from the time of the French Revolution) referred to young people living a socially irresponsible lifestyle encouraged by the possibilities of a big city. Our protagonists may be defined similarly – young people pampered by city life. But what is so exclusive about life in Prague? For example, although they go to work, they can choose what kind of work they want to do. Unlike young people elsewhere in the country, they have never been in a situation when they would be forced to do work they do not like. But what actually makes them “golden youth” is the fact that they are unaware of their privilege. Our golden youth are young people who lead a socially uprooted life in the city – regardless of whether they are called generation Y or Z, or whether they spend 3,000 or 25,000 on a night out (the latter is much more likely in their case). They are extremely self-confident young middle-class kids with a clear set of values – first, to have fun, second, to have fun, and third – to have fun. All of them live in a “city greenhouse” with ready-made opinions and often also prejudices against people living outside their “funfair”. However, none of these opinions is based on personal experience. Our characters do not live at the top of society, and yet there exists an abyss between them and the people they meet during the filming, be it at the slaughterhouse or in Romanian Banat. To be honest, I myself didn’t expect the difference to be so huge.

Shooting in Chanov

The selected protagonists are extravagant or impractical or both. For the purposes of the docu-reality show, they are greatly valuable in that they are capable of verbal feedback (at least at times). Young gay boy Renáto is an eccentric whose ambition is to become a show-business star, Yeni is a runner-up Czech Miss Vietnam, Nicol is a photo-model from a magazine cover, Michal studies law and has a lined-out political career and Jiří “made it” as a lead actor in some movie and as a voice-over for Ron Weasley. On many occasions, they surprised us with their unpredictability. In most cases, their primary concern was not what they were doing but if they looked good doing it. And wherever they went, they caused fuss, unease, whooping cough after choking on food and minor heart attacks.

Unfortunately, we missed some interesting situations. Cameras were not rolling during a fight in Chanov following a dance party starring Renáto. With his typical assertiveness, Jiří bogarted his joint and got punched. Most of the local men defended him and pacified the attacker. Following suit of Sicilian vendetta, Michal wanted to organise a punitive expedition, but the locals fortunately dissuaded him from his intention. However, this boosted Michal’s popularity in the town and the surroundings and if he ever decides to run for local elections, his victory is guaranteed.

We also made an indelible impression in Gerník, the largest of six Czech villages in Banat in Romania. It is heaven on earth – at least for us mortals. After the protagonists insulted everyone around (making comments on their houses and clothes), Michal tried to dispel the uneasy atmosphere by playing the guitar in the local pub. Unfortunately, neither Chinaski, nor the poetic metal band Kabát did the trick. No eye was left dry after everyone joined in to sing a popular song by the fading normalisation pop star, Hanka Zagorová, at least on the part of the crew, but these were not tears of nostalgia. Our visit, as recorded in the local chronicle, will for a long time probably cause more concern than Turkish raids due to which these villages located on the border of Austria-Hungary with the Ottoman Empire were actually founded.

Translated by Barbora Rozkošná

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starší články

29. 06. 2015

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