Fresh Film Fest kicks off in Prague with Manipulation as its main theme

Peter Watkins - 'The War Game'

The 9th Fresh Film Fest opens in Prague on Wednesday celebrating new and debut films from around the world. This year’s installment of the festival features movies by British documentary maker Peter Watkins, Tom Tykwer and other Czech and international artists. The main theme of the Fresh Film Fest this year is Manipulation. Radio Prague spoke to the festival’s programme director Michal Hogenauer, and asked him what exactly this means.

Peter Watkins - 'The War Game'
“We have decided on this theme because we thought it was quite strong and it’s important to talk about it in a time when manipulation is around us, and we made a special collection of films which are based on this kind of theme in many layers, for example we have Funny Games by Michael Haneke and we have a documentary called Wikileaks – Secrets and Lies, but the main point of this is the presentation of British Director Peter Watkins, whose whole career in film has focused on the theme of manipulation and the media crisis.”

And what are going to be the highlights form some of the festival’s other sections?

“We have three competition sections. Two of them are student short films, then we have Fresh Generation, which is based on first and second features. I can recommend for example the British existential comedy called Black Pond or an American film called Pavilion or maybe Combat Girls, a German movie a young girl who is somehow interested in a Neo-Nazi group.

'Black Pond'
“Then we also have sections outside the competition. One of them is Bright Future, which is focused on first and second features – films which have already one prizes or been screened at some other famous festivals. I would recommend Electric Children or Klip. Then we have a little bit of an experimental section, called Break Rules, which is where we try to show films that are quite difficult to categorize. For example the story telling is often slow, and the form mainly takes over together with the music.”

Can you tell us about some of the Czech films that are going to be featured at this year’s Fresh Film Fest?

“We have a section called Fresh Czech where we present five or six student films Into Oblivion (Czech Mrtvá trať), a documentary film about an empty railway, or we have a film Gorila which is a low-budget independent Czech movie.”

You’re going to show a special programme about a famous piece of Czech communist TV propaganda called All you wanted to know about the series 30 cases of Major Zeman but were afraid to ask. What’s that going to consist of? What did you decide to include it in the festival?

“It’s in the section Manipulation because the TV show was made in the Communist times and everything at the time was made to manipulate the audience. So we will screen pieces of the TV show and there will be discussions with the authors to find out about the preparations, the shooting and writing and all the stuff around this movie.”