Helena Třeštíková finishes a time-lapse documentary spanning 35 years
by Martin Kudláč
- The documentary, Strnads, is a stand-alone feature from the Marriage Stories series
Revered and award-winning Czech documentary maker Helena Třeštíková has been following six couples since 1980. Unique television series Marriage Stories was originally conceived as a probe for finding out why there is such a high divorce rate among young couples. The first phase of the project finished in 1986, and the result was a series of six television episodes aired on Czech television and two feature documentaries, Out of Love and Looking for Ways. “It was my first attempt at time-lapse documentary shooting, and a big risk full of uncertainty, as I had no experience in this kind of filmmaking,” revealed the filmmaker. In 1999, Třeštíková entered the second phase, following the protagonists up to 2005 and producing another series of six television episodes under the title Marriage Stories After Twenty Years, which aired in 2006. The dramatic fate of one of the protagonists became the subject of a stand-alone piece, Marcela. The third phase has been underway since 2009, and will wrap in 2017.
Třeštíková has now singled out one couple from the documentary series, Ivana and Václav Strnadovi, to turn their marital odyssey into another stand-alone time-lapse feature documentary, Strnads, for theatrical release. The couple focused on in the documentary is one of only two pairs in the whole group that did not divorce, and the filmmaker will present their life from marriage through to their 60s, compressing 35 years of their life into the film. “It was our decision with the producers to pick the Strnads for the feature. We thought the story of this family evoked several important themes. Besides marital relations, it looks at relations with children, faith in one´s capabilities, and the determination to take life into one’s own hands and start a business. We were impressed by their unique ability to reflect on it all openly and sincerely,” said the filmmaker.
Czech production outfit Negativ and Czech Television is co-producing the documentary, and Aerofilms is handling the domestic release, set for January 2017. The films from the third phase will be aired on Czech television at the end of the third phase.