Last year saw the inception of KineDok, a unique project promoting the screening of original documentary films in untraditional places. Organized by the Institute of Documentary Film, the project – connecting Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and the Czech Republic – was met with great interest in all partner countries, both among the general public and in the media (more information). A number of screenings also took place at the Karlovy Vary and Jihlava film festivals, as well as at the Forum 2000 international conference. This year, KineDok is introducing 15 new original documents and offering site-specific screenings also to audiences in Poland and Norway.
‘We were delighted to see the success of last year’s KineDok screenings, both in the Czech Republic and abroad,’ says Jana Ripplová, manager of the KineDok project. ‘We’re also happy to say that this year, we have managed to secure fifteen unique European documentary films and find new screening places – clubs, galleries, cafés and multifunctional spaces – that share our enthusiasm for the project.’
Aside from this year-long screening marathon, the IDF is also organizing a two-day KineDok Conference, which focuses on innovative methods of distribution with an open programme and will take place as a part of the East Doc Platform event at the Cervantes Institute. A ceremonial screening of the Polish documentary film 6 Degreeswill take place at the Vinohrady Brewery on 10 March 2016. The screening starts at 8:30 PM and is open to the public.
What, then, does this year’s KineDok have to offer?
Czech documentary films will be represented by Jan Foukal’s successful documentary film Amerika, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary IFF, and by Jiří Stejskal’s long-term observational documentary film My Home. The first of these explores the Czech ‘tramping’ phenomenon – the search for freedom deep in the woods, under the night sky, next to the campfire and amid the strumming of guitars; the second revolves around the energetic Natasha, who lives in a small cottage in the middle of a housing estate in the centre of Kyiv. Natasha shares her house with her two partners, four children and some pigs and goats – and, as the head of the family, does her best to protect her rundown cottage from developers and her family from any danger than might befall them, from Jehovah’s Witnesses to conspiracy theories.
The Hungarian documentary film Drifter (Gábor Hörcher), a story of two young Roma men who are trying to participate in the local rally, has been well received at many film festivals, including those in Sarajevo, Leipzig and Amsterdam. Although neither of the two friends has a driver’s license or a working car (and one of them is blind), they are determined to take part in the rally, and, most importantly, win. The second Hungarian film, Song Brothersby Balász Lévai, is full of live music; it tells the story of a song that helped complete the treatment of the drug-addicted frontman of the best-known Hungarian band. And as the folk band’s cover version of the song gained over fifteen million views on YouTube, it played a great role in assuring a couple of small-time musicians, who made their living playing at weddings, of their true love of music.
Croatia is introduced through the films I Like That Super Most the Best by Eva Kraljević and School Time for Miss Roma. The first is a sensitive portrayal of the director’s loving relationship with her sister, whose wit and humour shine through her handicap, turning her into a star of the documentary silver screen. The second, filmed over the course of three years, introduces us to a couple of Roma girls trying to break free of the boyfriend–child–husband future that has been assigned to them, hoping to finish school and start taking care of themselves. Do they, however, even stand a chance?
As for Romanian filmmaking, Alexander Nanau’s documentary film Toto and His Sistersclearly shows that the worldwide success of contemporary Romanian films is not based only on fiction films. Nanau’s film has received countless awards – e.g. at film festivals in Leipzig, Warsaw, Florence, London, New York or Jihlava, where it was awarded the Silver Eye Award. We meet ten-year-old Toto, who lives in a rundown apartment with his two older sisters, their mother in prison for selling drugs. What does it look like when children look after themselves and each other? What happens when they can help each other more than their parents would be able to? As for the second Romanian documentary film, Golden Robot, the directors Constantin Mocanu and Mihai Dragolea show the story of Steluta, a female boxer aged 32, who has survived a childhood in children’s homes and on the street, going on to win both European and world championships.
This year, Slovakia is represented by Mothers and Daughtersand New World, a pair of short documentary films by Ivana Hucíková and Tereza Michalová, students ofthe Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. The films focus on the fragile topic of the cohabitation of four generations of women and the life of a lonely, mentally unstable woman living in a house that is slowly turning into a ruin. KineDok’s selection also includes the most-recognized Slovak documentary film of last year, So Far, So Near. Experienced director Jaro Vojtek takes us through the worlds of several people diagnosed with autism and explores their relationships with their parents, avoiding cheap sentiment and showing us that these worlds are not all that different.
The year 2016 has brought two new countries into the KineDok network – Norway and Poland. The audience will be able to enjoy the poetic Norwegian documentary film Siblings Are Foreverby Frode Fimland, which explores the peaceful coexistence of Magnar and Oddny. The two siblings take care of the family farm, where the most advanced piece of technology is a broken tape recorder and a box of useless tapes. The second screened film, Bear Island, is the work of Inge Wegge and Edda Grjotheim. We are once again invited to an adrenaline trip of three brothers (who we have met once before, in Wegge’s festival hit North of the Sun), who decide to visit one of the coldest islands in the area, usually only inhabited by polar bears. It soon turns out there is much more to their stay than surfing, skiing and snowkiting.
The Polish documentary film Domino Effecttakes us to Abkhazia, a former Russian summer resort that has become a land torn apart by a war for independence. With its black humour from the Black Sea, the film, directed by Piotr Rosolowski and Elwira Niewiera (see the commented interview for IDF), has won several awards at a number of film festivals. It tells the story of the Abkhazian minister for sports, Rafael, who is organizing a world championship in domino in order to increase the visibility of his country; at the same time, he is desperately trying to hold onto his relationship with the hysterical Russian opera singer Natasha, who, contrary to her expectations, has unfortunately not found the meaning of life in Abkhazia. The second presented Polish film, 6 Degrees, directed by Bartosz Dombrowski, was inspired by the six degrees of separation, a theory by social psychologist Stanley Milgram. The theory claims that every person in the world is linked to everyone else through a chain of six mutually acquainted people. The director tests the theory in a road movie, exploring this connection between Warsaw punk rocker Martyna and Mexican farmer Antonio.
The final film in this year’s selection of KineDok documentary films is My Father the Banker, by Latvian director Ieva Ozolina. The director is searching for her father, who, after the fall of the Soviet Union, took little time to get rich and even less time to disappear. Now, eighteen years later, the Interpol has apparently found him in a Malay asylum (see details about the film, which will have the Czech premiere at Cinema Světozor on 29 February 2016).
As KineDok’s main organizer, the Institute of Documentary Film has arranged for all the films to be subtitled into the Czech language and continues to help local KineDok screening organizers arrange debates with film creators and interesting guests. IDF is also in charge of marketing and promoting the project, which it does with the help of Czech Television, KineDok’s general media partner, as well as its other media partners – Radio 1 and the informuji.cz portal. For more information and, most importantly, a list of KineDok locations and screening dates, please visit www.kinedok.net or the project’s Facebook page.