Czech documentaries in upbeat mode

By Radovan Holub
    Two new Czech documentaries, RAPublic and Gyumri are opening in Czech cinemas, following their premiers at the Jihlava documentary festival (IDFF).

    RAPublic, directed by Pavel Abraham and written by Pavel Abraham and Tomas Bojar features leading lights of the Czech hip-hop scene. Three Czech rappers not only make music in this film but also enlighten the linguistic professor Radoslava Kvapilova Brabcova regarding some special words used by the rapper community (some of these words led to a ban on the film trailer in Cinema City multiplex theaters earlier this week). The film, a hybrid music documentary and an essay on life attitudes, opened November 27 in 5 prints and in DVD format.

    The film, budgeted at 128,000 euros (CZK 3.2 million), was produced by Fresh Films, which also organizes the student Fresh Film Fest. Fresh Films director, Martin Posta told FNE that both feature and documentary film production are interesting for the company. "RAPublic was a hit subject matter for us as nobody had mentioned it in film before." RAPublic is released by Bioscop, a division of Magic Box.

    Gyumri, by Jana Sevcíkova, will open in Czech cinemas on December 4, the 20th anniversary of the earthquake whose aftermath the film describes. The film, with a budget of 160,000 euros (CZK 4 million), was shot over three years, and self-produced by the director herself. It will be released by the Jihlava IDFF, the festival's first film distribution effort.

    The film follows the aftermath of the devastating 1988 earthquake in the Armenian city of Gyumri, in which thousands of people, mostly children, died. Gyumri looks at the parents and siblings left behind, who often believe that the souls of those they lost still live with them. Gyumri had its world premiere at the Rome International Film Festival in October, winning the special CULT award from among 12 documentaries. "It is a strong documentary, with painful and shocking images and with the atmosphere of a fantasy film," one juror said. Gyumri is currently making the festival circuit, concurrnet with its theatrical release. "If the release of Gyumri goes successfully, our festival will release some more documentary films," Jihlava's media director Jan Hlubek told FNE.