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10 Years of Discovering the Best Documentaries for You

My name is Lion. Czech Lion.


DAFilms.com brings all 5 documentaries nominated for the Czech Lion award. Watch them in the two weeks from February 29 to March 13. The winners of all categories of the Czech Lion, including the documentary one, will be announced on March 5.

The Czech Lion for the best documentary film can go to The Gospel According to Brabenec directed by Miroslav Janek, Film Adventurer Karel Zeman by Tomáš Hodan, Mallory by Helena Třeštíková, Lean a Ladder Against Heaven by Jana Ševčíková and Wave vs. Shore by Martin Štrba.

With the exception of the worldwide streaming of Lean a Ladder Against Heaven, the documentaries are accessible exclusively to Czech and Slovak audiences.

Lean a Ladder Against Heaven is a film about human mercy, various forms of faith and living for others. Catholic priest Marián Kuffa lives in a small village under Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains. In the past 20 years, he has turned the local presbytery into a safe haven for more than 200 people in need. Homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts, minors from children’s homes, handicapped and abused people. The unpretentious film is not only a portrayal of a selfless man who gave up his hobbies and romantic youth at the age of 30 to become a priest but also a reflection on the complicated life stories of socially excluded people.

Wave vs. Shore is a documentary dedicated to the Slovak New Wave including artists such as Jano Pavlík, Rudo Prekop, Vasil Stanko, Tono Stano, Martin Štrba, Miro Švolík, Kamil Varga and Peter Župník. The generation from Prague’s FAMU has imbued artistic photography with energy, playfulness and unbridled imagination which has merged with the processes of staged photography in their works. In his directing debut, Martin Štrba visits and interviews his friends and artistic colleagues while reconstructing the atmosphere of the times that gave birth to the phenomenon of the Slovak New Wave. In its form, the documentary follows the invention and playfulness as well as the staged and artistic processes of the photography of its protagonists.

Film Adventurer Karel Zeman is a biographical film looking back at the life, work and significance of the genius of world cinema. It reveals the inspiration sources of his work and looks into the kitchen of the film trick pioneer. As an absolute solitaire in his field, he created his own world based purely on his imagination. He was a complete autodidact and is therefore not easily classifiable into any film wave or direction. This extremely hardworking, resourceful man and a perfectionist, yet always preserving the ability to see the world from a child's perspective, is without any doubt one of the most successful and celebrated Czech filmmakers in the world. Thanks to their inner poetry and sincerity, his films do not age (The film will be available until Sunday, March 6 only).

The life story of Mallory, the protagonist of Helena Třeštíková’s eponymous film, shows the hard way out of drug addiction and from the bottom of the society. For a major part of the 13 years during which Helena Třeštíková captured her on camera, Mallory has lived in a car. Upheavals in partner relationships and frustrating conflicts with the authorities keep dragging her back. But the former drug addict won’t give up and her story thus becomes a story of the persistent human struggle for hope. DAFilms.com offers 34 films by Helena Třeštíková including her most renowned films René (2008) and Katka (2009) as well as short films from the popular series (http://dafilms.com/search/?q=Marriage+Stories). You can also read an interview with the leading Czech documentary filmmaker and watch her free master class in the form of an interview by renowned Slovak documentary filmmaker Peter Kerekes.

The Gospel According to Brabenec captures journalist Renata Kalenská's improvised talks with member of The Plastic People of the Universe Vratislav Brabenec held at places that hold some meaning for Brabenec or Kalenská. The result is several scenes of irrelevant philosophizing, self-deprecating humour 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. DAFilms.com presents 9 more films by Miroslav Janek and an interview with the director.

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Films for the event


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...



Film Adventurer Karel Zeman / EN version

Filmový dobrodruh Karel Zeman / anglická verze (Orig.) / 2015 / Czech Republic / 102 min

A documentary about Karel Zeman, a magician of the big screen. Without digital effects he brought audiences around the world back to prehistory, forward to the Moon and deep under the Sea.




Mallory (Orig.) / 2015 / Czech Republic / 97 min

After unique time-lapse documentaries Marcela, René and Katka, Helena Třeštíková is coming with a new film in which she follows her main protagonist Mallory for 13 years. Mallory is determined to return to a normal life after many difficult mishaps...



Wave vs. Shore

Vlna vs. břeh (Orig.) / 2014 / Czech Republic, Slovakia / 88 min

The Slovak New Wave. A group of photographers formed at the beginning of the 1980s unleashed a storm of emotion upon the stagnant waters of Normalization. Fortunately, the period had a predilection for creative courage; by that time the regime was no longer strong enough to quash the new trend...



Lean a Ladder Against Heaven / CS version

Opři žebřík o nebe / česká verze (Orig.) / 2014 / Czech Republic / 101 min

Marian Kuffa is a priest in a small village of Zakovce in Slovakia. At his presbytery he cares for the homeless, former prisoners, boys and girls from orphanages, the handicapped and abused mothers with children. Altogether, the priest has hosted almost two hundred people. Some die, some are born, people come and go...



Lean a Ladder Against Heaven / EN version

Opři žebřík o nebe / anglická verze (Orig.) / 2014 / Czech Republic / 101 min

Marian Kuffa is a priest in a small village of Zakovce in Slovakia. At his presbytery he cares for the homeless, former prisoners, boys and girls from orphanages, the handicapped and abused mothers with children. Altogether, the priest has hosted almost two hundred people. Some die, some are born, people come and go...





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