A Long Journey: Online Film Retrospective of Helena Třeštíková
From September 22 to October 5, 2014, the DAFilms.com documentary portal presents the first world online retrospective of unique Czech director Helena Třeštíková under the telling title “A Long Journey”. The works by the popular documentarist who has won a whole range of international awards, including Europe’s highest film award Prix Arte, are introduced on the portal in the form of more than 25 films made since the mid-1970s. Moreover, Czech viewers can vote for their favourite film by the filmmaker at www.dafilms.com and win an invitation to an exclusive film meeting with Helena Třeštíková.
For more than two decades, Helena Třeštíková has ranked among top world documentary filmmakers. Screenings at prestigious film festivals, lectures as well as the award for the best European documentary she received for her film René in 2008 have proved that Helena Třeštíková is an exceptionally talented and respected personality on the international documentary scene. The combination of her unique observational method, by means of which the director follows her protagonists for several years or even decades, and a sensitive personal approach with an interest in the individual life stories have made the works by Helena Třeštíková into a unique film chapter in the history of Czech and European documentary.
The online film retrospective presented by the DAFilms.com portal in the period from Monday, September 22 to Sunday, October 5, 2014 completely for free offers the viewers the most representative selection of the filmmaker’s works up to now. It is for the first time ever that her earliest films from the 1970s and 1980s will appear online. They include her graduation film The Miracle (1975) depicting the pregnancy and birth of her close friend which has only been publicly screened as the introductory part of the documentary Private Universe (2011). The filmmaker herself labels the film as her “first, still unconscious documentary”. The other films from this period, Touch of Light (1979), Japanese Sunday (1981) and Out of Love (1988), represent primarily the period environment of art, theatre and visual arts. The early films by the director are only available in Czech.
Television documentaries, in which the director has developed a distinctive interest in the stories of people in critical and difficult life circumstances, are a significant part of the film retrospective as well. In the series Tell Me Something about Yourself, Helena Třeštíková first meets the young criminal René whom she later dedicated a feature-length documentary which has brought her a “European Oscar”; the Prix Arte. The most successful documentaries which have become festival hits and which, besides René (2008), also include Katka (2009) and Marcela (2006), represent the core of the film retrospective as well as the peak of the director’s film works. The films have English subtitles. The exclusive online presentation of the series Marriage Stories (1987) and Marriage Stories 20 Years Later (2005), in which the director follows married couples for 25 years since their wedding, also offers a unique film experience to international viewers. The selection further includes the director’s latest films Private Universe (2011), Life with Jester (2013) and Vojta Lavička: Ups and Downs (2013).
On the occasion of the film retrospective, the DAFilms.com portal has decided to find out which of the films by Helena Třeštíková is most popular among viewers. In the course of the two weeks of the retrospective, Czech viewers can vote online and choose their favourite film which will be screened at the end of the film retrospective on Monday, October 6 at 8:45 pm at a special film evening in Světozor Cinema in the presence of Helena Třeštíková. Through voting, the viewers get a unique chance to win one of 40 free passes to the otherwise closed evening during which the director will be interviewed by Slovak documentarist Peter Kerekéš and reveal many aspects of her unique cinematic and personal approach to documentary film.
Those who are not lucky enough to attend the film evening with Helena Třeštíková and Peter Kerekéš can read an extensive interview with the director on the DAFilms.com portal.
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Films for the event
Manželské etudy: Mirka a Antonín (Orig.) / 1987 / Czech Republic / 37 min
“We wanted to get married anyway and the child only made it quicker”. Perhaps it was too quick; seventeen-year-old Mirka just got apprenticed as a hairdresser while nineteen-year-old Antonín worked as a dispatcher.
Manželské etudy: Zuzana a Stanislav (Orig.) / 1987 / Czech Republic / 35 min
“You and I, that’s who we are…” such were the lyrics of their favourite band Olympic; however, Zuzana and Stanislav never managed to accomplish the “we”. They married out of necessity; she was still in her final year at grammar school, he was just a one-year-older electrical technician...
Manželské etudy: Zuzana a Vladimír (Orig.) / 1987 / Czech Republic / 35 min
Civil engineers Zuzana (23) and Vladimír (21) wanted to prove that “they can make it” both to themselves and to others. They built their home on their own and tried to fulfil their dreams as well. While Vladimír longed to study photography at the Academy of Performing Arts, Zuzana longed to have a child. They both succeeded, Zuzana even three times...
Manželské etudy: Marcela a Jiří (Orig.) / 1987 / Czech Republic / 45 min
The twenty-year-old couple, a horse farmer and a telephone technician, married for love and even had a double wedding. However, they did not keep the biblical promise “where you go I will go” confirming the church ceremony held after the civil wedding for long. Their marriage broke up in a year, after the birth of their daughter Ivanka, for both objective and subjective reasons; to put it in the judge’s words...
Řekni mi něco o sobě - René (Orig.) / 1992 / Czech Republic / 60 min
The unique film cycle "Řekni mi něco o sobě" was started in the spring of 1989 by director H. Třeštíková. Utilizing her exceptional method in which she follows the subjects over a period of time, Třeštíková focuses on the youth correctional facility in Libkovice.
Řekni mi něco o sobě - Láďa (Orig.) / 1994 / Czech Republic / 60 min
The unique film cycle "Tell Me Something About Yourself" was started in the spring of 1989 by director H. Třeštíková. Utilizing her exceptional method in which she follows the subjects over a period of time, Třeštíková focuses on the youth correctional facility in Libkovice. The material was shot over a period of two to five years and captures not only the changes in the lives of the protagonists, but also transformations of the whole society.
Řekni mi něco o sobě - Martin (Orig.) / 1994 / Czech Republic / 60 min
The unique film cycle "Řekni mi něco o sobě" was started in the spring of 1989 by director H. Třeštíková. Utilizing her exceptional method in which she follows the subjects over a period of time, Třeštíková focuses on the youth correctional facility in Libkovice. The material was shot over a period of two to five years and captures not only the changes in the lives of the protagonists, but also transformations of the whole society.
Vyloučeni z literatury (Orig.) / 1997 / Czech Republic / 57 min
A documentary about the life stories of Czech catholic writers and poets who were unjustly sentenced in trials fabricated by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. They were Zdeněk Rotrekl, Václav Renč, Josef Kostohryz, Václav Prokůpek and Jan Zahradníček. They were sentenced for life or received long sentences, were imprisoned, heavily interrogated and tortured. The hard times are recollected by the very authors, their families and friends.
Výzva (Orig.) / 1999 / Czech Republic / 53 min
A documentary film following several years in the life of Jan Potměšil who has become a very popular actor at an early age, representing the type of a young sporty intellectual. After a serious car crash in 1989, he ended up on a wheelchair...
Obsluhovala jsem Karla Čapka (Orig.) / 2003 / Czech Republic / 28 min
Alžběta Motlová, née Venhodová, was a maid for Czech writer Karel Čapek. She was the one who helped Čapek photograph the dog Dášeňka by chasing her around the yard; she was the one who set the table for important guests such as Czech president Masaryk or his son Jan...
Paměť 20. století: Nebe Nad Evropou (Orig.) / 2003 / Czech Republic / 56 min
Using archive footage and the recollections of Czech airmen and their wives, Helena Třeštíková pays tribute to their heroism and recalls how they were "rewarded" for this by the communist regime...
Marcela (Orig.) / 2006 / Czech Republic / 82 min
Called Marriage Stories, the series of documentary films covers twenty-five years of Czech society by watching the lives of several married couples. The methodis what gives the films their causality as the story develops over a long period of time. The story of Marcela was especially moving as we witness the death of her daughter at the end...
Paměť 20. století: Nebylo to marný (Orig.) / 2006 / Czech Republic / 57 min
The prominent Czech doctor Jaroslav Skála is the godfather of Czech alcohol detoxification treatment. He founded the Prague alcohol clinic at U Apolináře, as well as the first sobering-up station in the world...
Paměť 20. století: Události Pavla Štechy (Orig.) / 2006 / Czech Republic / 57 min
Pavel Štecha is one of the leading Czech photographers and documentarists. His black-and-white photos from 1968-89 are well-known, but his photographs of ordinary life from the period are also of crucial importance...
Katka (Orig.) / 2009 / Czech Republic / 90 min
“You bet on someone in the beginning of the process and then you wait and see what life does with them.” This is how Czech director Helena Trestikova explains her long-term documentaries. Following on from the European Film Academy Award winning RENE (2008), Trestikova brings us KATKA – 14 years in the life of a drug addict.
Život s Kašparem (Orig.) / 2013 / Czech Republic / 85 min
For 23 years, Helena Třeštíková followed the story of actor and stage director Jakub Špalek. The first piece of footage was shot in Autumn 1989 when Jakub, then a theatre academy student, was actively involved in the Velvet Revolution.
Vojta Lavička: Nahoru a dolů (Orig.) / 2013 / Czech Republic / 89 min
Longitudinal documentary film was shot for past 16 years and the main protagonist is Roman musician and activist Vojta Lavička. Vojta is a master in violin play, who focuses not only on music but also deals with problems of his origin Roman nationality.