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New Docs Added to East Silver Caravan

With the call for entries in full swing, the East Silver market has been receiving new documentary titles. Several remarkable films have already been included in the East Silver Caravan to begin their journey in the festival circuit. These include the German-Austrian film David Wants to Fly, the Czech student films Alda and 59/184/84, all of them very creative treatments of their respective subjects. Many of them have already enjoyed minor achievements, which is especially rewarding in the case of the student docs.


Viera Čakányová’s Alda explores the Alzheimer’s disease through a formally innovative lens. Using the video diary of a female protagonist, we follow various symptoms of the disease and the onset of memory loss and dementia. The entire film is based on the blending of documentary shots and brief video entries by Oldřiška who is using the camera to ward off the disease as she records the contents of her memory and thoughts on video. The formal structure of the film that is narrated from the perspective of the protagonist is by itself intriguing, yet there is another somewhat controversial element, i.e., the declared reenactment of the video diary. Though very convincing, the protagonist is in fact an actress. The film is composed entirely of reenacted scenes based on those shot by the real-life Oldřiška (the voiceover in the film uses her actual voice). Alda may stir debates on the use of reality and fiction in documentary film, and the ways in which fiction elements might effect the notion of authenticity. Regardless of these concerns, Alda received the awards for best direction and editing at the FamuFest Student Film Festival but also won the Canton Vaud Prize at Visions du réel.

59/184/84, a student film by Lukáš Kokeš, is a portrait of an oppressively burnt out man waiting for the miracle of a change. That change should come in the shape of a woman. Though the protagonist has desperately been searching for a partner using online dating services, his poor social skills prevent any real relationship. Kokeš’s disinterested camera paints a bitter portrait of a man who is not happy with his life but is unable to change it. The director won the Vaclav Taborsky Award for Best Documentary Film under 35, presented at the 2010 Finale Plzen.

Czech Peace by Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda, the authors of the hypermarket docu-comedy Czech Dream, is another new addition to the East Silver Caravan. This time the directors focus on the plans to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Their approach to the subject was, according to their own statements, unbiased, allowing both parties of the debate to voice their views. However, the film itself gives the impression that the directors are siding with the opponents of the base. While the anti-radar activists are shown in a much more favourable light, the supporters are portrayed in a positively ironic way. It may seem at first that once the plans come to a sudden halt after the election of President Obama, the film cannot provide any clear resolution or a catharsis. Yet the celebrations organized by residents of the village in the vicinity of the proposed radar base are - though captured with a victorious air - somewhat bitter because the reversal of events had nothing to do with the efforts of the activists and local political representation. This perspective is fully in line with a deeper layer of the film, a probe into Czech society that clearly drove the 2006 Czech Dream. Attitudes and opinions turn to travesty in both camps, whether it be an extremely violent reaction voiced by Ivan Martin Jirous, a Czech poet and a proponent of the plans, or an old woman echoing every single slogan of the protesting crowd. In these scenes, the directors successfully explore the mechanisms of manipulation and herd behaviour.

The last new addition to the Caravan is the German-Austrian documentary David Wants To Fly that follows the activities of Transcendental Meditation, a multinational corporation that trades in meditation and enlightenment. In a naive, Borat-like approach, director David Sieveking's probing into the activities of the organization earn him a lawsuit and a hostile treatment from David Lynch who is among the representatives of Transcendental Meditation. Thanks to his carefully thought-out act of a simpleton, Sieveking manages to get access to the funeral of guru Maharishi as well as to David Lynch, and reveals Western approach to Eastern religions as pure enlightenment business.

 

Alda | Viera Čákanyová
Czech Republic 2009, 52 min
The screenplay for this film is based on writings of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s type of dementia. The story of Mrs. O. is told throught a combination of documentary film footage and her own videos from a handy digital camera, where she records mini instructions for different daily activities, memories, thouhgts and commentaries on various events, trying to prevent forggeting them later in the future. She comments the past and the presence briefly, with humour and irony, trying naivly to print herself into the medium of film for further reference in the memory-less future. Through the individual story of a gradual memory loss the film represents a metaphor of memory loss of the whole society which is trying to forget past events that determined its current status quo.

 

59/184/84 | Lukáš Kokeš
Czech Republic 2009, 25 min.
A film add of the forever unhappy man with a fixed idea that "something is about to happen", always waiting for the moment to start to live, upholding his plain loner's existence with a belief that the destiny will at last make his dream of an ideal woman true, based on the biological right of love.

 

 

Czech Peace | Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Czech Republic 2010, 100 min.
The story of STAR WARS, the COLD WAR and the WAR ON TERROR in one small Czech village. CZECH PEACE – from the creators of the fake hypermarket comedy CZECH DREAM. As a part of its National Missile Defense Program, the US plans to build a military base in the Czech Republic, a former hiding place for Soviet nuclear rockets during the Cold War. Despite the fact that 73% of Czechs are against the project, the government has continued with negotiations. Supporters of the base claim that it will strengthen the country's defense against the global threats of the 21st century. Opponents, on the other hand, point out that the plan essentially shifts the Iron Curtain toward the east; they also insist that it represents an attempt by the USA to rule the world.

 

David Wants To Fly | David Sieveking
Austria, Germany, Switzerland 2009, 96 min.
In search of enlightenement young David follows his idol David Lynch and uncovers the billion-dollar industry behind Transcendental Meditation. A sprightly docu about finding own artistic inspiration, both tongue-in-cheek and seriously questioning the TM financial empire.