The root of the Latin word contemplatio, from which we get our word contemplation, refers among other things to the word templum – temple – where the ancient augurs (priest-soothsayers) divined the will of the gods from the flight of birds or from animal innards. This year’s LABO section – which as in the past is a space for all that is labyrinthine/atmospheric/brisant/oneiric (in one word, indescribable) – offers precisely this kind of sacred realm: a hortus clausus of slow dreaming that is the perfect place for those who believe that a film’s most important thing is its story. Why tell about beauty if I can show/taste/experience it? Why hope for a sudden plot twist if I can submit to the pleasure of a fluidly developing image, like when I repeat THAT ONE single verse from my favorite poem for the hundredth time or I let my tongue explore the bitterness of wine: just for the taste, the way it melts and resounds on the tongue? And who knows – perhaps you, too, when lost among these films, will manage to see something of the future. Their creators are definitely not ones to nostalgically...

But no – this won’t work. This is definitely not the way. Anyone reading THAT would turn red with rage, puff up, and turn into a frog or who knows what. Disgusting. And all it would produce is regret. So let’s start over. Better this time. And less... but you know, you know.

New York. The Big Apple. Bitten by the cold. Poisoned. Like the one for Snow White, white like sheep or something to eat or anything else that is pure white that might come to mind. Polygonal snowflakes pile up on polygonal paving stones. Gray textures, inconspicuous like a mouse, something about concrete, glass, twisted dreams, support beams joined by rusty rivets: all of it after a final patch to remove all bugs and annoying clipping. Corbusier’s austere towers rise along an empty boulevard like a sleepy banality from which there is no way out. Time has stood still on the front page of the newspaper. From the subway exit there wafts the faded echo of a crowd long gone. And here we are. A group of friends, sharpshooters, tough guys, hardened by endlessly grinding away in an online world without conscience (repeat the mantra: death is an experiential commodity), silent silhouettes in the cold white heat of urban snow. An early morning that looks and acts like evening. And perhaps it really is evening. A post-apocalyptic crescent of evening in a post-apocalyptic city that never sleeps. Sad. Gloomy. Up to the ankles in snowy ashes.

Murders of crows circle hungrily overhead. But we have no intention of taking lives, not even virtually. We set out on a pacifist tour of the local sights. It looks like a wonderful evening. Everybody is enjoying themselves, the expectations are high, the guide is said to be an expert; in fact, he is a local and that means something. And above all: no blood will be spilled! Ours, others’, none. But now we’re being kindly asked to... “Look! Up there! Do you see the dimly illuminated window overlooking the courtyard? That balcony next to the balcony? You are very lucky, truly lucky. You are one of the few people to have seen such a thing,” the guide tells us while rubbing his numb hands. And now we all see it: On one of the balconies of a seemingly ordinary brick apartment building we witness a textbook detective story that seems to fold in on itself like a drawing by M. C. Escher, an image of an enchanted hand drawing itself with a block of charcoal. All in one single take!

We try to somehow take it all in, but we are already passing the port and our gaze falls on an anchored freighter. A palindrome ship, all covered in the white of winter, lost in the polar signal light of a boundless fog, shadows creeping along among industrial containers covered in a soft powder of radioactive snow, eerie waves dryly crashing into the bow; frozen in the eternal ice of anticipation, empty cabins stubbornly silent in the abandoned isometric night. Automatically. Inevitably. We think of death and decay, an eternal return that, like white filaments of mycelium, gnaws at/struggles through/winds itself around all earthly things: it is a slow process of life-giving decay, bleached-white fangs covered in an icy crust of rot. The mere idea causes a collective chill to run down our spines. But no – this is too dark and morbid. Let’s leave this place, says our guide. We nod – our avatars nod – and obediently follow him along.

And that is how it goes for most of the evening until we return (all aching and tired) to the warmth of our own non-virtual bodies and, eyes open, no longer dream on a made bed about a different (more exotic) life. O, to have a room with a view of coconut palms rustling in the ocean breeze like that tattered plastic bag caught in the crown of a tree at the end of one of Ishiguro’s mist-novels (I can’t remember which one, but that doesn’t matter!)… and beach umbrellas fluttering in the same warm, mild breeze, and a sandy beach covered in washed-up plastic cups and the confused sideways-walk of crabs. If only I could hear a robotic female voice explaining the physiology of ocean waves – even in Thai or English, in any language, in fact: So that is what it’s like! So that is how they are created! Quite pretty, I must say. And before we know it, our moist eyes fall shut and we slowly fall into the merciful waters of sleep, which is just another word for night. And the night is gentle and it is still young...

Yes, that might just work. That is much better. And yet, I’m sorry to say, it still isn’t the standard kind of text people have come to expect from a serious film festival, is it? Be that as it may, saying “This is not a catalogue text” would be about as helpful as saying “This is not a pipe.” Which, of course, is the sacred truth. After all, it’s not a pipe but a chibouk. And it’s not a chibouk but hookah. Or it’s not a hookah but a calabash. Because it-all-depends-on-the-length-of-the-stem.

And who, in this day and age, has time for heroism?

                                                                                                                                   Luděk Čertík


Accidence Accidence

  • Canada
  • 2018, 10 min
  • Director: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall

Anina Anina

  • United Kingdom
  • 2017, 19 min
  • Director: Alcaeus Spyrou
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
Nezrozené ptáče

Baby Bird, Unborn Ófæddur Ungi

  • Iceland
  • 2011, 10 min
  • Director: Katrín Ólafsdóttir
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
Operace Jane Walk

Operation Jane Walk Operation Jane Walk

  • Austria
  • 2018, 16 min
  • Director: Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
Pokoj s výhledem na palmu

A Room with a Coconut View A Room with a Coconut View

  • Thailand
  • 2018, 29 min
  • Director: Tulapop Saenjaroen
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall

animistica animistica

  • Austria, Germany, Mexico
  • 2018, 7 min
  • Director: Nikki Schuster
24.1. 20:30 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall
27.1. 18:00 Praha | Světozor - Small Hall