20 Years of Democracy in Film
In 2009, we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the collapse of communist rule in Central Europe. Verzio Film Festival and its partner festivals One World Prague, DOK Leipzig, One World Bratislava, and Watch Docs Warsaw, are presenting documentary films from acclaimed Central European filmmakers which in different ways address the achievements, challenges, damage and deceptions accompanying the roads to parliamentary democracy. Our festival program includes seven films. Jan Švankmajer’s satirical The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (1990) presents a humorous summary of post-war Czechoslovak history, warning of the Stalinist intolerance being reborn in the new nationalist guise. Jan Špáta’s The Greatest Wish (1990) includes references to his banned 1964 work, and collects the answers of young generations from the 1960s and the 1990s, thus creating a generational chronicle of the atmosphere of two crucial moments in Czech history. Gyula Gazdag’s Hungarian Chronicles (1991) also presents a societal portrait, this time through the personal stories of three men and a woman recalling their lives between 1956 and 1989 in Hungary. Another Hungarian documentary in the program is a classic on the economic transition by Pál Schiffer, The Videoton Saga (1993). Schiffer documented the decline of a on-time socialist industrial shop-window, the Videoton electronic factory in Székesfehérvár. Slovak veteran filmmaker Dušan Hanák joins the panorama with an interpretative documentary on the history of socialist Czechoslovakia Paper Heads (1995). The more recent Polish production Goat Walker (Bartek Konopka, 2003) focuses on the consequences of economic changes, addressing recent measures against poverty and unemployment in rural Poland. Last but not least, acclaimed German filmmaker Thomas Heise presents his latest experimental work Material (1988-2009), presenting previously unused film material he had shot during the time before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. These films, featuring stories of democratic transformation and the restoration of intellectual freedom, but also encounters with capitalistic thinking and the consumer society, are supplemented by a variety of further documentaries, available for viewing on-line in original with English subtitles via www.20years.org web-site. The films are presented there in five thematic categories, and accompanied by supplementary articles to contextualize the films and stimulate discussions in an on-line forum. The films are available for streaming for free until the end of 2009.
Thomas Heise, Germany, 1988-2009, 164’
A visual diary shot around the time of the fall of the Berlin wall and never released before. Assembled in an associative way, in which chronology takes a back seat to sense and atmosphere, it shows images of the late GDR (re)defined over and over again. A non-linear version of history.
producer: Heino Deckert
editor: René Frölke
camera: Sebastian Richter, Peter Badel, Thomas Heise, Jutta Tränkle, Börres Weiffenbach
sound: Uve Haussig, Jürgen Schönhoff, Robert Nickolaus, Maxim Wolfram
Children. As time flies, 2007 / Lucky (Niggers), 2006 / Mein Bruder. We’ll Meet Again, 2005 / The Foreigner, 2004 / Fatherland, 2002 / Neustadt: The state of things, 2000 / Barluschke, 1997 / Jammed - Let’s get moving, 1992 / Volkspolizei 1985, 1985 / Why Make a Film About People Like Them?, 1980
The Goat Walker
Bartek Konopka, Poland, 2003, 50’
A university in Wroclaw undertakes a social experiment: to fight poverty, the inhabitants of a small community are given goats to breed. A humorous portrait of harsh Polish realities.
producer: Maciej Skalski
editor: Jaroslaw Barzan, Bartek Konopka
camera: Piotr Rosolowski
sound: Franciszek Kozłowski, Michal Baginski
music: Piotr Braun, Wojeiech Waglewski
Rabbit a la Berlin, 2009 / Three for the Taking, 2006
The Greatest Wish
Jan Špáta, Czechoslovakia, 1990, 85’
What is your greatest wish?, Jan Špáta poses the question to youngsters in 1964 then in 1989. Generational chronicle of two milestone moments in Czech history.
producer: Masa Charouzdova
editor: Jan Petras
camera: Jan Špáta
sound: Miroslav Šimčík
Between light and darkness, 1991 / Live for Happiness, 1989 / Carpe Diem, 1988 / Get Up and Walk, 1987 / The Land of St. Patrick, 1987 /Karel Gott, 1986 / Greece Transforming, 1983 / Gustav Mahler Variation, 1981 / Follow Your Happiness, 1979 / Brass Music, 1977 / The Sumava Pastoral Poems, 1975
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia
Jan Švankmajer, Czech Republic, 1990, 10’
From the garbage pile of history Stalin's plaster head rises - now painted in the Czech national colors - from which a new, though still invisible, child is delivered. A biting satire on the legacy of the communist past.
producer: Jaromir Kallista
editor: Marie Zemanova
camera: Svatopluk Maly
sound: Ivo Spalj
Lunacy, 2005 / Little Otik, 2000 / Conspirators of Pleasure, 1996 / Faust, 1994 / Food, 1992 / Flora, 1980 / Meat Love, 1989 / Darkness-Light-Darkness, 1989 / Self-portrait, 1988 / Another Kind of Love, 1988 / Virile Games, 1988 / Alice, 1987 / The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope, 1983 / Down to the Cellar, 1982
The Videoton Saga
Pál Schiffer, Hungary, 1993, 65’
The saga of the decline of the Videoton Electronic Factory in Székesfehérvár, once a socialist industrial shop-window. A classical documentary on economic transition.
producer: Péter Kővári
editor: Béla Nyíri
camera: Balázs Bélafalvi
sound: Frigyes Wahl
Elektra, avagy: Bevezetés a kapitalizmus politikai gazdaságtanába, 1995 / Engesztelő 1956–1989, 1989 / Az ibafai kovboj, 1987 / A Dunánál, 1987 / Kovbojok I–II., 1985 / Földi paradicsom, 1983 / Nyugodjak békében, 1982 / A pártfogolt, 1981 / Cséplő Gyuri, 1978 / Mit csinálnak a cigánygyerekek?, 1973
Gyula Gazdag, Hungary, 1991, 98’
Three men and a woman recall their lives between 1956-1989 in Hungary. Subtle chronicles of communist Hungary by prominent Hungarian director Gyula Gazdag.
producer: Laure Friant
editor: Anna Kornis
camera: Gabor Szabó
sound: György Fék
zene: György Kurtág jr.
Ginsberg - Egy költö a Lower East Side-ról 1997 / Túsztörténet, 1989 / Hol volt, hol nem volt..., 1987 / Elveszett illúziók, 1982 / A kétfenekű domb, 1977 / Bástyasétány 74, 1974 / A határozat 1972 / A sípoló macskakő, 1972 A válogatás / 1970
Dušan Hanák, Slovakia & France & Switzerland & Germany & Czech Republic, 1995, 96’
The Kafkaesque absurdities of everyday life in Czechoslovakia between 1945 and 1989 are contrasted with archival propaganda footage showing the official version of life in the workers' paradise. A meditation on freedom and lack thereof by the famous Slovak director.
producer: Marian Urban
editor: Patrik Pašš, Alena Pätoprstá
camera: Alojz Hanúsek
sound: Igor Vrabec, Pavol-Ján Jasovsky
music: Pavel Fajt
Private Lives, 1990 / Silent Joy, 1985 / Goose Bumps, 1983 / A Place Among People, 1981 / I Love, You Love, 1980 / Doctor Jorge, 1977 / The Rosy Dreams, 1976 / Ma-tel-ko no. 9, 1975 / Flight of the Blue Bird, 1974 / Pictures of the Old World, 1972 / Leaving a Trace, 1970 / 322, 1969 / Variations of Tranquillity, 1967