Film Archive

Die Trasse

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Germany,
Russia
2013
121 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Natalia Manskaya, Filip Remunda, Vít Klusák, Simone Baumann
Vitaly Mansky
Alexandra Ivanova
Pavel Mendel-Ponamarev
Vitaly Mansky
Dmitry Nazarov
It was – as the “IG Erdgastrasse” (IG Natural Gas Pipeline) claims on a website still designed in the German-Soviet friendship style – the “construction of the century”. It started with the ground-breaking ceremony on 6 June 1966 in near-arctic West Siberia, took on real transcontinental form in the pre-Perestroika years (to Reagan’s horror) and today supplies, among other things, the raw material for one of the major ritual events in Western Europe: the Rheingas-fuelled Rose Monday Parade in Cologne. The “Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline” stretches from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Gulf of Biscay, as unnoticeable as everything else to do with our energy supply. But in terms of geo-politics, -ecologics and -economics, it’s a massive goldmine – with quite noticeable consequences (dependencies, blind faith in technology, environmental damage).
Vitaly Mansky, who last travelled through Cuba in “Motherland or Death”, now explores our own unfamiliar home along this subterranean trail. The politically obstinate documentary maestro is interested in the lives of those who live near and above the pipeline, though not necessarily off it (no money, no gas): indigenous ice fishers, Orthodox Church processions, Putin-supporting tuba players, Gorbachev-critical veterans, angry Roma, cursing Polish men and Virgin Mary-adoring Polish women. He flirts with stereotypes while adroitly avoiding them. Big screen cinema, visually powerful and with great sound design.

Barbara Wurm



MDR Film Prize 2013

Eugenic Minds

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Slovakia
2013
76 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jiří Konečný
Pavel Štingl
Jaroslav Kořán
Miroslav Janek
Tonička Janková, Otakar Šenovský
Jan Míka
Pavel Štingl
Vladimír Chrastil
Expressive faces, body parts, anatomical associations. Human beings come in a variety of forms: “Some are smart, some are dumb, some are good-looking, some are ugly …” The term eugenics comes from the Greek. It means something like “good lineage” and is the term used for the science of improving genetic disposition by choosing the right sexual partner. In order to spare humanity “genetic burdens”, the smart and good-looking ones are chosen. If humans make the selection, they take “God’s work into their own hands”. The Third Reich used and expanded this science to serve its ideology, with the result that the term was avoided and at last forgotten. Captivating archive material, original animations and their graphic “insemination”, for example when the “transparent woman” frequently mingles with the crowds, reflect the narrative of a fascinating science practiced to the point of lunacy. This tale reveals more about the human species than any anthropometrical measurement ever could.

Claudia Lehmann
Doc Alliance Selection 2013
Fortress Lukáš Kokeš, Klára Tasovská

Trans-Dniestr: a living museum of Soviet-style communism on the borders of the Moldavian Republic. Propaganda, secret police, and a bizarre refuge from the dangers of modern life.

Fortress

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2012
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Pavla Kubečková, Tomas Hruby, nutprodukce
Lukáš Kokeš, Klára Tasovská
Lukáš Kokeš
Alexandra Gojdičová
Lukáš Kokeš, Klára Tasovská
Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic a.k.a. Trans-Dniestr. Imagine a space where time has frozen. The country, whose independence has been recognized by only a few other states, remains an isolated multi-ethnic enclave held together by an authoritarian regime. It’s a country where you are only allowed to film out of the window of a train, the locals are afraid of being denounced but are glad to live in a comfortable refuge from the hectic modern world, and songs on television celebrate the president. Time has stopped and life is stuck in a shape resembling the era of the Soviet Union. Somehow, people got used to the reign of the secret police and the fear of being spied upon. Soviet-style propaganda of the authoritative, power-based regime of President Igor Smirnov turns most of the PMR residents into simple workmen, without any will to understand how unbearable their situation is. Smirnov has been leading this non-existing country for as long as twenty years.
The film focuses on a couple of characters stuck in this geo-political gap, in between the European Union and Russia, in between the present and the past, crime and decency, decadence and hope for change. Framed by the time of the presidential elections, the film is presented as a trip to a museum of communist totalitarianism and analyzes the organization of a “non-state” and the rules of a regular life within.

Normalization

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Slovakia
2013
100 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Robert Kirchhoff, coproducer: Hypermarket Film, CzechTV
Robert Kirchhoff
Peter Zagar
Ján Meliš
Jana Vlčková, Adam Brothánek
Jozef Giertli Danglár
Robert Kirchhoff
Václav Flegl, Michal Gábor
Only a moment ago, 19-year-old medical student Ludmilla Cervanova had smiled into the camera. Her body was found in a river in a small Slovak town in 1976. Seven men were responsible for the horrifying rape and death of the girl. Fortunately, the perpetrators were apprehended and condemned. But though Ludmilla was drowned alive, oddly enough no signs of violence could be found on the body. Though the murderers have been in prison for years, not one of them can remember the terrible crime. Though a number of witnesses confirmed the innocence of the condemned men, none of them was heard in court. Robert Kirchhoff lets these people talk; many others fall silent when faced with his questions about plausible facts. He delves deeply into a case that has remained an unsolved puzzle in Slovak history until today. He reconstructs a “map of events” and paints a picture that shows power, its abuse, manipulation, the perfidiousness of intelligence services and the political machinations of a country. “Normalization” demonstrates in the best sense what film is capable of. And the truth is still concealed behind the innocent smile of a 19-year-old girl.

Claudia Lehmann



Awarded with a Honorary Mention in the International Competition Documentary Film and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury 2013

Pandas

Animated Film
Czech Republic,
Slovakia
2013
12 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter Badač, Tomáš Hrubý
Matúš Vizár
Ink Midget
Matěj Šámal, Matúš Vizár, Martin Búřil
Matúš Vizár, Adrián Hnát, Dan Stanchev, Marek Pokorný, Dalibor Kristek
Matúš Vizár
Miloš Hanzély
Panda bears are the product of several million years of evolution. They are quiet, depressed and, unfortunately, not very active. To save them from extinction they are preserved and bred in zoos. But they are rather more adaptive than humanity would like them to be.
FilmFestival Cottbus 2013
Vojta Lavička: Ups and Downs Helena Třeštíková

A long-term observation of a Czech Roma musician who makes the charts with his band but continues to fail in his own community and due to the ethical stigma attached to him.

Vojta Lavička: Ups and Downs

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2013
88 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hana Třeštíková
Helena Třeštíková
Jiří Chod
Jakub Hejna
Helena Třeštíková
Czech director Helena Třeštíková specializes in long-term observations, always following several protagonists at the same time over years. Vojta Lavička has been one of them since 1996, a highly talented violin player and Roma who tries to make his way as a musician and would love to call the Czech Republic his home. But circumstances are against him. When the CSSR was still a socialist country, he had nothing to fear. But when the country was divided and proudly joined the EU, the situation changed dramatically. Now the only place he feels safe is on stage, were he is celebrated. The band in which Lavička plays confidently call themselves “gipsy.cz”, playing a style somewhere between gypsy groove, Balkan folk or Romano hip hop. Whatever you want to call it, they regularly bring the house down. One of their records even went gold once. In life, though, he has to suffer humiliations because his dark skin tone makes him easily identifiable. His girl-friends’ mothers forbid the relationships, he is threatened, starts to drink. Třeštíková soberly takes stock, following the strict chronology of events. Lavička fights this stigma, strongly at first, then more and more desperately, though he would love to bear it with pride.

Cornelia Klauß