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Czech Republic, 2012, 83 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Avant Garde/Experimental, Biographical, Documentary, Family Issues
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: Czech English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Helena Treštíková
Producer: Katerina Cerná, Pavel StrnadEditor: Jakub HejnaScreenwriter: Helena Treštíková
The Czech documentarian Helena Treštíková says she is committed to using her inventive time-lapse shooting method (“time collection,” she calls it) “to make a link between the past and the present … as a tool to interlink the private and public aspects of life.” In Private Universe, she covers 37 years in the lives of the Kettner family—from the moment in 1974 when working-class Prague parents have a son named Honza, through the boy’s youth, his tumultuous teenage years (John Lennon, pot, rebellion), and on into his emigration to Spain, where he worked as a dishwasher. We also get the wider social picture: when Honza is 15, Stalinist socialism collapses in Czechoslovakia; when he’s 30, the Czech Republic joins the European Union. Thus do private and public events collide.
Working with her camera and 30 notebooks filled with Kettner family recollections, Treštíková here continues a long and productive career—40 years, 40-plus films, short and long—that has spanned all the postwar political upheavals in the life of her homeland.
She faced trials, too. “There was a certain period of time when Honza disappeared somewhere abroad,” she recalls, “and I was not sure whether we would be able to finish the project.” But the young man materialized, and the work went on. At a private family screening of the finished film, Treštíková tells us, the Kettners laughed all the way through. In a postscript, we learn that Honza has managed to graduate from a jewelry design school and has firm career plans.
- BILL GALLO
In cooperation with Bohemian Productions, Honorary Consulate for the Czech Republic of Colorado
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