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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Slovakia

Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy ready for the festival circuit

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- The last remaining active director of the Czech New Wave, Karel Vachek, has finished the longest-ever Czech film, which clocks in at six hours

Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy ready for the festival circuit
Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy by Karel Vachek

One of the most original Czechs, the last remaining active director of the Czech New Wave and a former head of FAMU’s Documentary department, Karel Vachek, has a new oeuvre travelling the festival circuit. Following his previous efforts, Záviš, the Prince of Pornofolk Under the Influence of Griffith’s Intolerance and Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holidays or the Foundation and Doom of Czechoslovakia (1918-1992) from 2006 (147 minutes long) and Obscurantist and His Lineage or the Pyramids’ Tearful Valleys (2011, 199 minutes), he has made yet another of his film-novels, Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy, which clocks in at 335 minutes (split into four acts). The cinematic essay explores politics, philosophy, religion and art.

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Fifty years since the Prague Spring and 30 years after the Velvet Revolution, the director “shows the exposition, collisions, crises and catharsis of post-November society” in a documentary fresco of personal memories, staged scenes and archives of collective memory. While assessing social development, the auteur sees the future as lying in the direct democracy enabled by humans interconnected via the internet. The synopsis alludes to some of the motifs in the sprawling work: “Democracy can be saved through creative laughter, dissolving the untouchability and hypertrophic egos of the representatives of state institutions. The internet frees society from the representatives of the non-functional connecting link that prevents direct communication between citizens and the institutions of power.”

Vachek reveals more in the director’s notes: “My whole life story will run through the entire movie – for a laugh,” as the epicentre of the film is the director’s office at FAMU, where he discussed various issues with important peers and his students over the course of his 25-year teaching career (in the director’s explanation, he notes that almost 100 personalities from Czech and Slovakian theatre and television appear in front of the camera as a sort of “collective hero”).

“Karel Vachek is an auteur whose works constitute an individual category all of its own in Czech cinema. He proves that, through film, you can not only think about the people and events from contemporary history, but also about the causes and general movements that make them work,” noted the board of the Czech Film Fund in 2015 when it approved financial support for the project.

The film will screen at the 49th edition of International Film Festival Rotterdam, in The Tyger Burns (Perspectives) section, while the IFFR’s programmers stated, “Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy feels like the sum total of Vachek's cinema: a classification-defying behemoth of a film, discursive like crazy, ironic, ferocious, ballsy – the way public intellectuals rarely are these days.”

Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy was staged by Mikuláš Novotný and Radim Procházka, of Background Films, and was co-produced by Slovakian producer Robert Kirchhoff (atelier.doc), Czech Television and Universal Production Partners (UPP). The Czech Film Fund and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund supported the film. Background Films is handling the world sales.

You can watch the trailer (in Czech) below:

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