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22nd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlava dok cdf

Direct Vérité

Direct cinema took documentary filmmaking by storm and changed it once and for all. The genre is characterized by its sense for randomness, utmost empathy and the ease with which it gives up on the impression of reality.

film database

An Insight into Madness, The Prisoner Party
The film is made up of the eponymous medium-length film and the short film The Prisoner Party. The director’s goal was for the viewers to better comprehend the everyday life of patients and doctors at the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Alban, where the first experiments with psychotherapy took place. The commentary uses Artaud’s texts on madness.

An Insight into Madness, The Prisoner Party

Mario Ruspoli
France / 1961 / 53 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Artifices
A group of French pupils asks their American peers – what is the Far West? The young Americans answer with their teacher’s help. The director transforms the children’s statements into images, and shows how the state instills an official opinion on the Far West. Are we watching a visual rhapsody or is it a politically engaged cinéma direct documentary? 

Artifices

François Reichenbach
France / 1963 / 10 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
CANDID EYE (1958-1960): The Back-breaking Leaf
A short film from the TV documentary series The Candid Eye, which was quite innovative content-wise and intended to show a new way of filming. The goal in this particular case was to visually and aurally capture the numbing drudgery of seasonal tobacco pickers. Despite this, at some moments the direction took on a certain aesthetic aspect. 

CANDID EYE (1958-1960): The Back-breaking Leaf

Terence Macartney-Filgate
Canada / 1959 / 29 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Don´t Look Back
The work of D. A. Pennebaker is absolutely vital to any understanding of the development of cinéma vérité outside of France, and his documentary about Bob Dylan is the essence of this style. First shown in 1967, it was an unexpected hit with audiences and subsequently became the model for future music documentaries even though it is nothing more than a record of Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. 

Don´t Look Back

Donn Alan Pennebaker
United States / 1967 / 95 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
For the Ones to Come
Until 1924, one of the ways residents of Île-aux-Coudres supported themselves was by hunting porpoises. In 1962, filmmakers decided to revive this traditional activity that brought a sense of order to lives there. What at first seemed like a crazy idea became a major direct cinema project that perfectly captures the essence of this shooting method. 

For the Ones to Come

Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault
Canada / 1962 / 105 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Gare du Nord
The collective narrative film Paris Through the Eyes Of... was intended as a New Wave manifesto with the goal of reviving interest in it. It didn’t quite happen, though, but an interesting work was created, part of which is the story of Odile, who has a fight with her husband and meets a mysterious man. It was shot as two long single takes on 16mm film and later transferred to 35mm.  

Gare du Nord

Jean Rouch
France / 1965 / 16 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Happy Mother´s Day
This controversial film has provoked a discussion about manipulating the audience‘s opinion. It pretends to lay out the objective events surrounding a birth of quintuplets, while in reality putting forward a meticulously thought-out piece, prompting the viewer to wake up to the absurdity of the campaign. The film strives for committed objectivity rather than comprehensiveness.

Happy Mother´s Day

Joyce Chopra, Richard Leacock
United States / 1963 / 30 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Hitler – Never Heard of Him
Bertrand Blier’s debut is an original anti-bourgeois lampoon based on interviews with several Frenchmen aged 15 to 22 who don’t recognize Hitler. It’s unique for its form, based on its camera work and editing. For its time it was so provocative that it was banned for viewers under 18 and withdrawn from competition at Cannes.  

Hitler – Never Heard of Him

Bertrand Blier
France / 1961 / 90 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Chronicle of a Summer
This sociological survey began in 1960 as a project by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin. The film became a manifesto of cinéma vérité and was the first feature-length film in France shot with synchronous sound. Here, cinéma direct approaches combine with the new view of reality as it became established in France.

Chronicle of a Summer

Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch
France / 1961 / 90 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Les marines
A harsh depiction of US Navy volunteer training is the sixth work in Reichenbach’s series America Through the Eyes of the French. A magnificent poetic reflection on the mental and physical exhaustion that these adepts are forced to endure. The film’s impact was so significant the Stanley Kubrick lifted nearly the entire opening scene in Full Metal Jacket. 

Les marines

François Reichenbach
France / 1957 / 22 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Lomelin
Toreadors call their first entrance into the area the “moment of truth”. We follow one such moment in the life of a Mexican toreador who is later considered one of the best toreadors of all time. The camera becomes part of reality, without any additional commentary, only the soundtrack and editing give meaning to Lomelin’s gestures and emotions and those of his family. 

Lomelin

François Reichenbach
France / 1965 / 22 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Lonely Boy
At first glance, the film appears to be a survey about the gifted singer, the idol of a generation. The result is a unique way of observing stars through their own fans. The sound is significant here, achieving an unprecedented sense of reality. The innovative approach complements the film with staged scenes. 

Lonely Boy

Roman Kroitor, Wolf Koenig
Canada / 1962 / 27 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Manouane River Lumberjacks
This film, by one of the most important and most productive Canadian documentary filmmakers, examines the seasonal work of a diverse group of lumberjacks, among which are members of Canadian Indian tribes. The style combines direct cinema with lyrical approach to the landscape, which enthralls everyone.  

Manouane River Lumberjacks

Arthur Lamothe
Canada / 1962 / 28 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
On the Pole
This pillar of direct cinema captures the fame and death of race-car driver Eddie Sachs. It combines original with archival footage, black-and-white with color film, and among other things makes use of sped-up images in order to achieve the same effect as in Primary. Again, the film tries to find the logic of the depicted events and to offer an objective také on them.

On the Pole

Richard Leacock, Robert Drew
United States / 1960 / 58 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Salesman
American filmmakers are the furthest from Vertov’s notion of film-truth. The Maysles directing duo is known for reducing the influence of editing. Salesman is based on the concept of living camera: to be as close as possible to the essence of the events and preserve their ambiguity. The film’s subject are the lives of door-to-door Bible salesmen.

Salesman

David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin, Albert Maysles
United States / 1968 / 90 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Seeing Miami...
It’s no wonder the director claims to be inspired by the work of Jean Vigo. In this film, he artfully develops his own style – dialogic commentary, corpses, slowed-down scenes, and parallel montages. The result is an image of white and black society. The film was censored in Canada due to its scenes from Cuba and Fidel Castro giving a speech. 

Seeing Miami...

Gilles Groulx
Canada / 1962 / 31 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Strangers of the Earth
Filmed in the village of Livinière in the Lozère district, locals talk about their work and lives in a time when the area is threatened with depopulation and the extinction of traditional farming methods. The goal was to record the opinions of these people living in relative isolation, thus affecting the truth about the situation. 

Strangers of the Earth

Mario Ruspoli
France / 1961 / 40 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Such a Simple Game
Although the director has created an ode to the national symbol of Canada – hockey –capturing a fascinating ballet creation, he also expresses the sport’s brutality and subjugation to media manipulation. The masterful editing and meaningful transitions between color and monochrome earned the film an award in Locarno, but the content caused the National Film Office to distance itself from the film.

Such a Simple Game

Gilles Groulx
Canada / 1964 / 30 min.
section: Direct Vérité
European Premiere
The Human Pyramid
Rouch doesn’t pursue reality - he provokes it. The camera isn’t hidden but stands in the forefront. This sociological documentary about the clash of white and black cultures is based on improvisation. This simulation of the coexistence of dozens of boys and girls is an attempt to capture the essence of real existing facts and Rouch’s concept of cinéma vérité. 

The Human Pyramid

Jean Rouch
France / 1961 / 88 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
The Little Café
Reichenbach was an innovative filmmaker who filmed everything around him using primarily his intuition. Instead of filming portraits of people, he made a portrait of a little café, where people are considered props and a spontaneously filmed telephone conversation between the café owner and a customer becomes the plot.  

The Little Café

François Reichenbach
France / 1963 / 12 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
The Shimmering Beast
An example of the late decline of direct cinema. What seems to be a record of a traditional Canadian elk hunt is in reality a journey into the Canadian soul. A masterfully filmed portrait of friends is a waiting for Godot as well as a psychoanalytic dive. The mythical creature becomes a catalyst for interpersonal relationships. 

The Shimmering Beast

Pierre Perrault
Canada / 1982 / 127 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
The Snowshoers
This key direct cinema film originated without a script and without the usual permits. Originally it was intended to be a short four-minute report about a traditional sport, but it was rejected. The goal was to lead viewers away from traditional reportage documentaries. The film showed how to exempt documentary from the rules.

The Snowshoers

Michel Brault, Gilles Groulx
Canada / 1958 / 15 min.
section: Direct Vérité
The Village Pleasure
Or, how to become a Frenchman in a few lessons. It’s the essence of cinéma vérité, combining an essayistic approach with an effort to capture raw reality in all its truth, but at the same time, we’re watching a documentary version of The Firemen’s Ball in the French countryside. 

The Village Pleasure

François Reichenbach
France / 1963 / 47 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Three Cheers for the Whale
This documentary “anti-Moby Dick” is a cooperative work with Chris Marker - creator of the commentary, editing, and sound.  A lively poetic essay on the plight of whales responds to the condemnation of their fishing at a conference in Stockholm. The commentary combines a male voice as the traditional explicative and a female voice, which is intimate and evokes the whales’ thoughts. 

Three Cheers for the Whale

Chris Marker, Mario Ruspoli
France / 1972 / 17 min.
section: Direct Vérité
Czech Premiere
Wrestling
With his creative concept, the creator of this film about wrestling completely exceeds simple match reporting. The viewers have more information than the fans in the hall and can assess not only the match, but also the reaction of the spectators. The music selection (Bach, Vivaldi) also draws attention to the fact that it’s more like a theatrical production.

Wrestling

Marcel Carrière, Claude Fournier, Claude Jutra, Michel Brault
Canada / 1961 / 28 min.
section: Direct Vérité
European Premiere