Most of us have heard about the famous Czech New Wave film movement of the 1960s, but few have woken up to the fact that there is a strong new generation of Czech documentary filmmakers, making a new wave into film history. Pleasingly to see, this movement is well represented by a substantial group of strong female directors and they build their language on a rich cultural heritage. What characterizes their films is the playfulness of their storytelling that is pungent with a great amount of self-irony and humor. The graver the topic, it seems the more surrealistic the storytellers’ approach.
Apolena Rychlíkova’s The Czechs Are Excellent Mushroom Pickers is a great example of this. It is a movie that could easily be defined as a «classic» upon first viewing if it hadn’t been for that quirky title, but then again, that is the daring beauty of this film. It wasn’t made with the eye for reaching the gold mine of Netflix, nor was it marketed for the world public, although it definitely could have, considering it is a gaily summarization of how horrible the state of our planet is.
Inspecting the human species
If you ever fantasized of watching a David Attenborough program inspecting the human species and their absurd behaviors, with the same scrutiny as he has studied ants or apes, then this film is a witty take-off of just that. The film is wrapped up like a typical Czech children’s television program, with a kind, nice male voice commenting on what we see, although this time the male is in a dialog with a female machine. He has just returned from an expedition on planet Earth where he made a study of the Czech sapiens (a metaphor for Homo sapiens) and he feels really tired, actually, almost too tired to comment the whole film as he says himself. When asked by the machine if he would like to return to planet Earth he says definitely not as he sees the human situation on the beautiful planet rather futile.
The graver the topic, it seems the more surrealistic the storytellers’ approach.
The naive questions from the female machine and his answers describing the absurdity of human actions brings not only humor to the picture, but it also enables us to digest some dreadful truths about our existence. Told with an anthropological point of view, as if he had studied a far-off exotic tribe, he is stating simple stark …
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