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JIHLAVA 2021

Martin Mareček • Director of Out in Force

“We used to say it was a story about a man who wanted to be Superman but who became Genderman instead”

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- In his documentary, the Czech filmmaker and teacher takes a closer look at film critic-turned-bodybuilder Kamil Fila

Martin Mareček  • Director of Out in Force

World-premiering at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, Martin Mareček’s Out in Force [+see also:
interview: Martin Mareček
film profile
]
follows a man who decides that bigger means better, at least when it comes to his body. Kamil Fila, a film critic, turns to bodybuilding, all the while experiencing painful breakups, depression and a full-on midlife crisis. He slowly comes to learn that in order to move forward, he needs to do much more than just pump iron.

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Cineuropa: It is curious that you, a filmmaker, decided to talk about a film critic. It’s like entering the enemy’s camp!
Martin Mareček:
We didn’t really know each other beforehand. Kamil is a bodybuilder, and at one point, he embarked on this whole transformation project, also with the help of steroids. This idea of making a film about it came directly from him. He wanted to break down this notion that an intellectual can’t be strong like this, or can’t have muscles. It was strange for me, when I first heard about it. Then I met him, and we decided to create a safe playground: he promised me that I would be able to make this film on my own, and I promised him that he would be able to stop at any time. That’s how our “critical friendship” started, basically.

He has this speciality, of sorts – he becomes a go-to guy for talking about women’s issues and wins the Genderman of the Year Award. Yet he is clearly struggling with his own masculinity, too.
I think that every portrait I make is a self-portrait. The original title of the film is not Kamil; it’s Sila. In English, it means “strength”, “power” or “force”. I wanted to make a movie about a certain intellectual archetype because, for me, it’s actually a very common thing: we are all good at analysing films or stories, but it’s not as easy when it comes to our own lives. He is a committed film critic and a committed feminist, and yet his personal life is so complicated. I was interested in this constant tension.

You show the reality of his job: a small flat, isolation. It’s hardly glamorous. Was he ready to share all of that?
Yes, he was ready. He is a control freak, but he also told me that losing control like that was actually very pleasant. He needed it. He wanted to open up. I recognise it, too, because what is this “midlife crisis” that everyone keeps talking about? We decided that we would work on this film for five years, from when he was 35 to when he turned 40. He told me that once you reach your forties, your life is over, at least according to your body and your physical strength [laughs]. So maybe this bodybuilding thing was his childhood dream? Maybe he wanted to create this protective shield around him? Still, there was another transformation that we noticed during filming, one that happened inside of him. I thought it was much more important.

When we first started this project, I was struggling in my own life as well. I went to therapy. He invited me to follow his process, but it reflected some common topics. Power, strength and this whole concept of masculinity have changed a lot, and I think it’s important to look at all of these stereotypes. Also because this film is about women as well – after all, he is surrounded by them. His girlfriends, his daughter, his editor. He says I am like his older brother now – he doesn’t have any male friends. It’s interesting when your family needs to deal with this immature man. He seems like a little boy sometimes, and that creates tension, too.

Most of the time, he is the one who does all the talking, not the women.
It’s true. It’s normal for us, intellectuals – we are so good at talking. There is this Czech proverb, claiming that you should be a general at work and a small boy at home. He told me that the film wasn’t therapy for him, but it served as some kind of trigger. In the film’s logline, we used to say that it was a story about a man who wanted to be Superman but who became Genderman instead.

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