Gustav Mahler was in Jihlava. His face is looking at me from the wall in the breakfast room of Grand Hotel, which was grand once, an art nouveau building from the outside but how could they put that terrible furniture into the lobby! Tasteless. Anyway, service is fine and kind. Back to business, well actually pleasure:
After having three one hour meetings with filmmakers participating at the training programme Ex Oriente, a masterclass was held by Peter Kerekes and it lived up, to what I had expected. Kerekes showed clips from the three films that have given him the well deserved reputation as a documentary auteur with his own style, ”66 Seasons”, ”Cooking History” and ”Velvet Terrorists”.
The Slovak told the audience why he is not able to make observational documentaries, he feels uncomfortable by being there and telling his characters that ”just don’t notice that I am here”! Reality is not in front of the camera, it’s in my head. For the ”66 Seasons” I did a deep research to make sure that they would talk about the past, what happened way back around the swimming pool in Kosice. I wrote everything down when having filmed, a good
exercise and then I could go back and make my characters do something unexpected to get away from the tone of being official, when a camera is there. If they trust you there are no borders.
The scenes Kerekes showed from ”66 Seasons” (photo) were hilarious – the man coming up from the water looking like Adolf, because one of the old women had a boyfriend, who had that little moustache. People love to play their own life and I was positively surprised that a film so local could sell to almost all tv stations in Europe. I think I succeeded in bringing energy into the scenes of the film. As for ”Cooking History” the situation was different as I had to make a very precise script for this film which was more a ”documentary theatre” than a ”documentary film”. He showed the ”epilogue” of the film in which the former u-boat cook is preparing the meal standing in the sea… the idea of the cook himself! Finally some words about ”Velvet Terrorists”… where it was difficult to make one of the terrorists perform. One of the co-directors, Ivan Ostrochovsky, whispered to Kerekes, ”give him a girl”, which turned out to be a great idea – in the film you see how ”the terrorist” teaches a young girl how to use weapons, how to lie to a lie detector (!) and many other tricks. Where the two first films were shot on film, ”Velvet Terrorists” was made on video and the team ended up with a lot of material. A brilliant 90 minutes masterclass, Kerekes is an original documentary humorist.
At night world premiere of Miroslav Janek’s ”The World According to Brabenec”, full house in the big cinema, wonderful atmosphere because of the charismatic old man. One more remarkable film from the hands of Janek, here is the catalogue description:
“Journalist Renata Kalenská’s book of interviews with member of the Plastic People Vratislav Brabenec recorded not only his memories of the underground years, but also the author’s experiences with this highly distinctive individual. This cinematic sequel builds on those experiences as it captures her additional interviews with Brabenec – improvised talks at places that hold some meaning for Brabenec or Kalenská. The result is several scenes of irrelevant philosophising, self-deprecating humor, and commentary on the life of birds and on nature in general. The conversations, recorded mostly by hand-held camera, are interspersed with poetic citations. “Do you ever feel happy?” “I don’t like the word happy at all. I equate happy with stupid.” “I’m unhappy with you. So I guess I’m un-stupid.””
Several films of Kerekes and Janek can be found on DocAlliance, Kerekes films can be bought via his website.