The Case of Lost Memories

What can a photograph tell about the depicted person? How hard is it to find a concrete Chinese man in the world of today? Why does it make sense to retrace lost memories? At Christmas, the Dafilms portal presents Lost Holiday, a unique documentary detective story by Lucie Králová.

Lost Holiday / At the beginning, there was a suitcase with 22 rolls of photographic negative. Thrown away and forgotten, the suitcase lay in a garbage can in Sweden until found and opened by Czech traveller Láďa. At that moment, the unusual documentary project by director Lucie Králová (then student of the Department of Documentary Film at FAMU in Prague) was born. The lost memories of six Asian gentlemen gave rise to three years of searching, travelling and filming, the course and outcome of which have been captured in the “first Czech documentary detective story”. From the very beginning, the young Czech filmmakers’ search for the identity of the lost tourists has been determined by their effort to reveal the secret of the very photographs. What can a person’s picture reveal about the person? What is true about it? What things cannot be revealed even by a most truthful depiction? These are the questions reflected by the filmmaking detective team, with the whole “detective game” exploring the crucial aspects of the image. The detective team was extended by a whole range of “Watsons”; including passers-by, Czech and Swedish policemen, renowned Czech sinologists Oldřich Král and Olga Lomová as well as a bizarre group of spiritistic mediums and psychics. Thanks to their common effort, the puzzle of lost memories has been gradually solved. The first thing to be identified was the nationality of the tourists; later the route of their European journey was reconstructed; and then… As this is a detective story, it would be improper to reveal the ending. It will suffice to say that the whole exploration proceeds in a relaxed and self-ironic way and that the filmmakers have a real talent for suspense. In the minds of those who look at the photographs of the posing Chinese, various ideas and theories spring up; often even conspirative ones; so that it is really amusing to see the tree of interpretation grow and extend its branches. In this way, the film quietly makes its way towards the crucial idea of the project; the fact that rather than the depicted subject, what a photograph (and film as such) really tells about is the person who is looking.

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