Living with inner laughter

Dok.revue 2.20

From Karel Vachek’s film Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy

Welcome to the second English issue of dok.revue 2020. Here you can find a selection of articles from this year’s Czech issues of dok.revue which could interest our international readers. 

I especially recommend you the interview with a doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel Vachek, who unfortunately passed away on the 21th of December this year. In his interview, he speaks about his last film called Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy. Fifty years after Prague Spring and thirty years after the Velvet Revolution, Karel Vachek with his inner laughter looks back on the evolution of our society and predicts a transformation to direct democracy based on the possibilities of the internet that will allow for the engagement of the whole mankind without the need of representatives. 

In this issue, you can also read the article from an American film historian Alice Lovejoy who discusses how her book Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military came to be. The book was first published by Indiana University Press in 2015 and it will be published in a Czech translation by Jan Hanzlík in 2021. „The seeds for this book were planted in autumn 2003, when, in a drafty stone military building near Prague Castle, I found myself among stacks of metal film canisters, watching a newsreel segment that documentarian Karel Vachek had had made while serving in the Czechoslovak Army Film studio in the 1960s.,“ writes Lovejoy. 

In this issue you can find an article about the documentary film on another famous Czech filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer. „While finalizing Jan Švankmajer’s latest feature film Insects, producer Jaromír Kallista and surrealist Jan Švankmajer approached us with the request to use filmmaking as a medium to uncover and preserve the creative processes fermenting inside their film company Athanor,“ write Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha about their film Alchemical Furnace

There is one more Czech famous personality discussed in this issue – Václav Havel. In 2020, a Czech filmmaker Slávek Horák made a film called Havel. The documentary aspects of the biopic Havel were discussed for dok.revue by journalist, translator, dissident, and Charter 77 signatory Petruška Šustrová, politician, writer, historian, lawyer, and Charter 77 signatory Petr Pithart, and documentarian and sociologist Ivo Bystřičan. Is director Slávek Horák’s film Havel truly chaos that says nothing at all about the recent history of our Czech nation or its first president? Or are the filmmakers entitled to artistic license and allowed to create whatever they like, despite giving the film and its main character the name Havel? 

Our English issue also includes texts in which the individual filmmakers share the origins of their projects. However, all extend far beyond Czech borders. Czech journalist Tomáš Etzler describes his first feature-length documentary Heaven about his seven year´s stay in China and about a Chinese Christian-run orphanage. Ukrainian documentarian Ganna Iaroshevych writes how she has been preparing her new film called As Far As Possible, a portray of a man who lives in the Ukrainian mountains fighting against the extinction of water buffaloes. This film hasn´t been finished yet. 

Finally, you can read a poem by Mike Hoolboom, a leading figure of Canadian experimental filmmaking, whose films appear regularly at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. He was also the author of the Ji.hlava festival's spot in the year 2020.

14. 12. 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