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Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00

Boys will be boys

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Pojedeme k mori
Photo: © Bio Illusion, courtesy of Miloslav Šmídmajer
Young talents Petr Šimčák and Jan Maršal in Pojedeme k moři

 

Cafe Cinema is returning to Sixth Sense! In the first edition of this new run, E&M's Frances Jackson reviews Pojedeme k moři, a ground-breaking Czech film written and directed by actor Jiří Mádl.

At a time when many critics have been despairing of the state of Czech feature films and finding only documentaries to their taste, there comes along a film that not only bucks the trend, but also seems to have re-written the rulebook.

Pojedeme k moři (English title: To See the Sea) was released in April of this year and quickly became one of the biggest hits of the summer, bagging a number of domestic and international festival prizes along the way. Both young and old have flocked to the cinemas of the Czech Republic to watch this unconventional comedy, which tells the story of Tomáš, an 11-year-old scamp with bold ambitions to become the next Miloš Forman.

Armed with just a digital camera – a birthday present from his parents – and a nose for intrigue, Tomáš sets out to produce his own documentary about life in the southern Bohemian city of České Budějovice. With the help of his equally mischievous best friend Haris, he uncovers a number of mysteries and comes to appreciate that all is not as it seems – particularly when it comes to relationships. 

Proving once and for all that high-tech equipment is not the only way to create a beautiful motion picture, the film is made up entirely of hand-held camera shots (taken on a Nikon, just in case you were wondering). This unusual, rather innocent way of filming gives the impression that the footage really has been shot by the two boys. It calls upon viewers to look upon the world with different eyes and takes them back to their own childhood, to a time of boundless enthusiasm, when new adventures seemed to beckon with the dawning of each day.

Tomáš and Haris could easily be from France, Germany, Spain – anywhere in Europe, really.

 

Due to the young age of the central figures, Pojedeme k moři has inevitably been viewed by some as a children's film, but in actual fact its knowing humour is likely to be most fully appreciated by an adult audience. The film's 27-year-old writer and director Jiří Mádl, already an established actor himself, having first found fame a decade ago with the teenage comedy Snowborďaci (English title: Snowborders), is very much aware of problems associated with categorising his directorial debut. Noting its mass appeal, however, he sees the piece as a family film in the truest sense of the word – a story about growing-up that can be enjoyed on many different levels.

While the image of Europe that comes across in the film may be golden-tinged, suiting the buoyant optimism of its youthful protagonists, it is certainly not saccharine. In particular, the unflinching depiction of Haris' turbulent home-life provides a stark reminder of some the social problems endemic to life on this continent. It does not matter either that the film is set in the Czech Republic. Tomáš and Haris could easily be from France, Germany, Spain – anywhere in Europe, really. Their boyhood japes are informed by a natural and irrepressible sense of fun and thus their appeal is universal too.

Pojedeme k moři can be seen in Munich on 25 September as part of the city's 14th annual Czech Film Week and at the Zurich Film Festival between 26 – 29 September. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:44
Frances Jackson

Frances Jackson is a former E&M editor and occasional contributor. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Munich, where she is pursuing a PhD in Czech poetry. Given the chance, Frances would probably spend all of her time in kitchen and is currently cooking her way around the world. She has also been known to dabble in literary translation.

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