Film Archive

A Hole in the Head

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Slovakia
2016
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Barbara Janišová Feglová
Robert Kirchhoff
Miroslav Tóth
Juraj Chlpík
Jan Daňhel
Robert Kirchhoff
Václav Flégl
A small art gallery somewhere in Serbia which exhibits only works by Roma. Is Clinton not Roma, too? The gallery owner isn’t certain. But Antonio Banderas is Roma, and Yul Brynner. They just don’t have the courage to admit it. This touching scene of cultural self-assurance is part of a narrative about the Roma Holocaust which has been almost completely erased from European memory and whose traces the director follows meticulously. A film against forgetting.

We meet people from France, Serbia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland who got caught up in the Nazi murder machine as children. Rita was less than three weeks old when SS doctors performed horrible experiments on her in a Würzburg hospital. Her twin sister died, she survived with a “hole in the head”. Raymond, 90 years old, an extremely alert Roma, reminds us that it was the French Gendarmerie who herded them together, not the Germans. Today, the same police enter his caravan without a search warrant to arrest three of his sons because they came to his aid. So what has changed? A question that arises at every stop of this commemorative journey and forces us to take a stand and get rid of ideological garbage.

Matthias Heeder


Nominated for MDR Film Prize

A Marriage Story

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2017
102 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Kateřina Černá, Pavel Strnad
Helena Třeštíková
David Cysař, Vlastimil Hamerník, Jan Malíř, Miroslav Souček, Ervín Sanders, Jiří Chod, Robert Novák, Antonín Kutík
Jakub Hejna
Helena Třeštíková
Richard Müller
Helena Třeštíková from Prague has filmed marriage stories since the early 1980s, which yielded several long-term documentaries. Ivana and Václav’s holy bond of matrimony is the subject of observation in this instalment, which takes us from the day before wedding day to the present day. At the time, in December 1980, Ivana was 21 years old and Václav 24. They were both studying architecture and married “because we like each other. And other things. Things we shouldn’t talk about.” Their first child was born shortly after the wedding: Honza.

Helena Třeštíková’s film “René” won the Golden Dove in Leipzig in 2008; a piece about a hopeless but charming amoralist who was drawn again and again to the same place: prison. It seems as if Třeštíková, too, is attracted by certain places, but even more so by people and the way they try to give their life a meaningful direction. This “marriage story”, for example, reveals an incredible desire for enlargement and growth that shows in an accumulation of objects, children and responsibilities – one of the inner motives of the Strnads which unfolds over 35 years together.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for MDR Film Prize

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

My Unknown Soldier

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Latvia,
Slovakia
2018
79 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Michal Kráčmer, Sergei Serpuhov
Anna Kryvenko
Andris Dzenitis, Yair Elazar Glotman, David Střeleček
Radka Šišuláková
Daria Chernyak
Anna Kryvenko
Viktor Krivosudský
The Prague Spring, Soviet tanks, the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops, the epoch-making year of 1968: the starting points of a family history between Czechia, Ukraine and Russia. “The occupation translates to a man with a dachshund being entitled to yell at a young girl in a tram because he can’t tell Ukrainian and Russian apart.”

A series of family album photos from which a man was removed sets Anna Kryvenko, a Ukrainian who studies film in Prague, on the trail of her great-uncle: the “unknown soldier”, to whom so many monuments are dedicated that one almost forgets that this sweeping gesture of remembrance refers to concrete faces, names, dates of birth and death, biographies cut short. After some initial hesitation the filmmaker’s family break their silence and gradually the pieces combine to form a new picture in which family and world history intersect.

Fabian Tietke


Nominated for the MDR Film Prize

Nabbin

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Israel
2018
30 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Nadav Harel, Kat Tolkovsky
Kat Tolkovsky
Kat Tolkovsky
Kat Tolkovsky
Kat Tolkovsky
Rotem Dror
After years in Israel the filmmaker returns to Nabbin in the Czech Republic, the place where she grew up, and to the people who surrounded her then.

None of Your Business

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Iran
2019
64 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Kaveh Farnam
Kamran Heidari
Kamran Heidari, Mansour Vahdani
Kamran Heidari
Saeideh Keshavarzi, Kamran Heidari
Ali Farmani
How he lived and died is nobody’s business, the singer Ebrahim Monsefi sings in a song documented in a video flickering with decay. It comes at the end of a film whose very existence asserts the opposite, because it narrates precisely that life, which was shaped by his love of music and a crash caused by the loss of loved ones. It started in the traditionally cosmopolitan southern Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas at the Strait of Hormuz. There is even a (deserted) Hindu temple there, where the orphan grew up with his grandfather, surrounded by music from all over the world that was absorbed and interpreted by the locals. Thus Ebram learned to play the guitar at an early age and became a local star as a singer-songwriter, before he became addicted to heroin and died in 1997.

Today his songs are popular standards in the region. And catchy melancholy tunes which, in archive footage of Ebram himself and street sets of contemporary performers, become the vibrant framework of Kamran Heidari’s film. Added to this are restagings of individual stations of his life. And the artist as a spirit whose emerging, almost pathological obsession with femininity can also be read as a comment on the worldview of the never explicitly mentioned Islamic Revolution. Thus the film is more a parable than a biography, but also the portrait of a fascinating, vibrant city.

Silvia Hallensleben

Olga

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2014
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Jarmila Poláková
Miroslav Janek
Miroslav Janek
Tonička Janková
Miroslav Janek
Vladimír Chrastil
It’s a community of misfits living on the margins of society in whose lives art, partying, performance and politics merge inextricably. One of them is Olga.
After his masterpiece “Citizen Havel”, Miroslav Janek now turns his attention to the long time companion of the Czech playwright, dissident and president, Václav Havel, who died in 1996. He portrays her as a “girl from Žižkov”, the Prague working class neighbourhood, as a down to earth and wise woman whose contribution to her husband’s work cannot be overestimated. The co-signatory of the Charta 77 took Havel’s place while he was in prison, kept the Café “Slavia” circle together, was active as a writer and publisher of Samizdats and always spoke her mind, even as First Lady – much to the protocol officers’ chagrin.
Yet Janek does not make this a hagiography but, above all, an atmospheric vision of that time, in a densely interwoven montage of black and white images of old Prague, Super 8 films, photos, private journals, secret service reports and vividly staged memories of companions. Rather than the portrait of an individual, this is the portrait of an artistic and political avant-garde who – unlike their East German counterparts – never took themselves too seriously. At the same time, it is a tale of resistance and its lightness only a Czech could pull off.
Grit Lemke

Private Universe

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2012
83 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Katarina Cerna, Negativ Film Productions
Helena Třeštíková
Karel Gott
Vlastimil Hamernik, Jiri Chod, David Cysar
Jakub Hejna
Helena Třeštíková
Lukas Moudry
“The future is a relative concept. It’s up to us to imagine it.” How right this immaculately coiffed black and white television show host is as she drinks to a potentially coloured future at a time when people take the first steps on the moon and tanks roll into Prague – both events with incalculable consequences. For who really knows how people are going to live in a few decades? When Petr begins a diary on the day of his wedding to Jana in Prague in 1974, he doesn’t know how his world and his little family universe will develop – and influence each other. When Helena Třeštiková starts to accompany Jana’s pregnancy with her camera a little while later she has no idea that 37 years later this will become her longest long-term documentary so far: “Private Universe”.
Petr’s diary provides the variable framework of this thoroughlylight footed family portrait. From this perspective great political upheavals sometimes appear marginal, while first teeth take centre stage. The changes of Czech society are reproduced on a smaller scale, a life between Karel Gott and John Lennon. The actual dimensions of the film’s title are not revealed until the son, Honza, the rebel, gradually becomes the main protagonist. For when he was born 37 years ago he had no idea it was under the star of the camera. A lucky star?

Lars Meyer



MDR Film Prize 2012

The Call of the Wild

Documentary Film
Czech Republic
2019
40 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Ondřej Šejnoha
Karolína Peroutková
Matěj Chrudina
Karolína Peroutková
Ilona Malá
Karolína Peroutková
Vojtěch Zavadil
“The best thing in the world is to break the law.” A hobby fervently pursued by twelve-year-old Michal and his younger brother, Karel. They steal chocolate, spray, trespass on properties, drink alcohol, smoke, play with fire. Director Karolína Peroutková is admitted, becomes a witness and occasionally (well-behaved) accomplice of experiences that play out somewhere between absolute freedom and neglect. Where Peroutková can’t go, the boys themselves take over the direction of the film.

Carolin Weidner

The Winter Garden’s Tale

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Ukraine
2018
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Alex Chepiga, Taras Bosak, Artem Koliubaiev
Simon Mozgovyi
Roman Grygoriv, Elliah Razumeiko
Denis Melnik
Mykola Bazarkin, Simon Mozgovyi
Simon Mozgovyi
Natalya Avramenko, Andrii Nidzelskyi, Michal Pajdiak
For 45 years, all her working life, Valentina Voronina has worked in the greenhouse of the “Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic” in Kiev, now the “Expocenter of the Ukraine” and very much in need of renovation. She spends her days in a modest wooden bungalow in the middle of her small empire of plants, not far from the impressive but decaying giant winter garden. Now, in the midst of preparations for the next winter, she’s to go. The management is to be taken over by a landscape architect. But Valentina Voronina refuses to give way. She is convinced that the welfare of the plants depends on her personally. All at once her life’s work, the history of the greenhouse to which the plants bear testimony, is threatened. A film about the end of an era.

Fabian Tietke


Nominated for the MDR Film Prize

FilmFestival Cottbus
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