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The World as Seen by Miroslav Janek


Watch an online retrospective of films by Miroslav Janek in the course of two December weeks. DAFilms.com presents ten of his films until Sunday, December 20 for free.

Czech documentary director, cinematographer and editor Miroslav Janek started his career in the 1970s by a number of short 16mm films. “I have been photographing since I was ten and making amateur films since I was fifteen,” says Miroslav Janek about his beginnings. In 1980, he emigrated to the United States where he worked as editor and cinematographer and where he also directed a number of his films. These include Little City in Space set in Minneapolis. As an editor, he also collaborated with Godfrey Reggio on his famous documentary features (visual essays with a soundtrack by Philip Glass) Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi and the short film Anima Mundi. He later lived and worked in Italy. After his return to the Czech Republic in 1996, he has been active as a filmmaker and lecturer in the field of documentary film. He lectures at Prague’s FAMU.

He made films dealing with people on the edge of the society (Kha-Che-Pae, The Unseen, Vierka) that are characterized by empathy without pathos. He has also captured the poetic style of the theatre of the Forman brothers (Purple Sails, Baroque Opera) and dealt with biographic themes (Burning about Czech filmmaker Drahomíra Vihanová). Janek’s most famous project is probably Citizen Havel, a film about Czech ex-president Václav Havel; he finished the film after the death of Pavel Koutecký. He has also portrayed members of the elites of Czechoslovak dissent in his films Andrej Krob on the Move and Olga; the latter introduces the personality of Olga Havlová. He has also made an unusual portrait of the iconic figure of Czech underground Vratislav Brabenec in The Gospel according to Brabenec. His filmography further includes a documentary mapping 50 years of Karlovy Vary IFF called Film Spa. He is currently making a new film.

Photo: KVIFF.

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Films for the event

Little City in Space0

Little City in Space

Little City in Space (Orig.) / 1984 / Czech Republic / 60 min

A documentary film about a weird community radio station in Minneapolis.




Vierka (Orig.) / 2005 / Czech Republic / 75 min

When the singer Ida Kellerová heard the recording with Vierka’s songs she not only decided to invite the talented young woman to work with her but also opened up her entirely family to Vierka to live with. These Slovakian Roma, still living in chillingly inadequate conditions in flats without electricity, move, and thus begins the adventure in which this consummate musician and her uncoventional guests live together. One day however Vierka and her entire family disappear…




Chačipe (Orig.) / 2005 / Czech Republic / 57 min

Miroslav Janek observes life in a children’s home through games. He chooses the children like partners for filming, teaches them to handle the camera, and leaves them to film their environment themselves...



The Gospel According to Brabenec

Evangelium podle Brabence (Orig.) / 2014 / Czech Republic / 87 min

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...




Olga (Orig.) / 2014 / Czech Republic / 87 min

The police couldn't break her, the Castle didn't change her: The remarkable story of Václav Havel's reluctant first lady.



For Semafor

For Semafor (Orig.) / 2010 / Czech Republic / 73 min

Musical road movie with twenty stops shows a unique project For Semafor. The film was shot in the Autumn of 2009. 23 musicians and bands participated in For Semafor...



The Unseen

Nespatřené (Orig.) / 1997 / Czech Republic / 53 min

Do really blind people know nothing about the world around them. The documentary record blind schoolchildren using cameras...



Citizen Havel

Občan Havel (Orig.) / 2007 / Czech Republic / 120 min

Begun in 1992 and stemming from a chain of historical events all wedded to the person of Václav Havel, director Pavel Koutecký set out to render a portrait of the first president of Czech Republic.




Umanutá (Orig.) / 2012 / Czech Republic / 60 min

An intimate portrait of a director who almost involuntarily devoted her life to film, and who was willing to sacrifice three marriages and motherhood to the cult filmmaking. The film portrays Drahomíra Vihanová as a hard-headed shaman of images who shares her religion from its early days of being damned by the regime for Zabitá neděle (Squandered Sunday, 1969) to the public execution of Zpráva o putování studentů Petra a Jakuba (The Pilgrimage of Students Peter and Jacob, 2002)...





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