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Dean's word for the FAMU News to students.

Dear Students,

The practical exercises are already in full swing this month. You will now get to transform the concepts you have been preparing since the beginning of the academic year into the audiovisual language. I would like to share with you a debate that has been ongoing between the Departments, the FAMU Studio and the Faculty leadership. Every year, we reopen a discussion concerning the volume of production (FAMU generates some 500 film exercises per year) and the overload that students and certain teachers endure. Having evaluated an extensive capacity study focused on both human and technological resources, the Dean’s Collegium decided the year before last that we should place emphasis on shared exercises in order to free up the resources, in particular with respect to the students in certain areas, for those films. This was to be achieved by strictly observing the White Book and the specialisation exercise assignments, which were to be completed within small teams or even without a crew completely. This approach was intended to free up students’ capacity for shared exercises which, according to the Department assignments and the White Book, are meant to take place in collaboration between different film professions. This year, the Collegium concluded that this attempt was not successful, as students have been busy collaborating on specialisation exercises (based on voluntary collaboration in addition to their plans of study). So, it is crucial to seek a different path. This will be one of the key topics for the new Faculty leadership. Your voice is immensely important in this debate, so do not forget that you can comment on this issue as part of subject evaluation once the semester classes are over. Share your experience.

I wish you beautiful spring days.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

ARCHIVE:

Dear Students,

A new Dean has been elected. Firstly, I wish to thank both candidates for their perceptive insight into the inner workings of our school, their concept documents, and a constructive discussion during the plenary meeting of the academic community where you approached them with your questions. I congratulate David Čeňek on being elected and appreciate his school development concept. The election itself took place in a dignified tone, focusing on substantial matters that our school and you, students, need and/or prefer.

My mandate ends on 19 May, and my team and I will focus on handing over our agenda in the time that remains until then. Helming our school is an extensive, multilayered, and comprehensive task, and such is also the way we will approach the hand-over process. My memories of this period four years ago when the Vice-Deans and I were taking over from the previous leadership include experience and practices that I made a point right then and there to definitely avoid. I thought: When we are handing our agenda over, there will be no blank computer discs or fragmentary and inaccurate information. We will try our best to do this in as structured and consistent a manner as possible. You can view the status of certain agendas and projects in progress in the presentation that I showed to the academic community in December. I believe this three-month period will be filled with inspiring debates and experience sharing and that it will benefit our institution and you, students.

The election to be held next Tuesday and Wednesday will determine who will represent the academic community on these authorities; these form the crucial cornerstone of the academic self-government. Come, discuss, and vote in the election.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Take the opportunity to participate in how our school works – vote in the election! I would like to encourage you to take part in making the decisions regarding our school, co-defining its shape and direction. You have three opportunities to do so in February and March. On 19 and 22 February, you can elect one member of the student chamber as part of the partial by-election. The Academic Senate of FAMU is organising this election because, last year, a student completed their studies and thus their tenure in the Senate and there is no substitute for them from the previous Senate election. Extensive election will take place on 5 and 6 March: five representatives of the academic community will be elected to the Faculty senate, and five persons will be elected to the school-wide Academic Senate of AMU. FAMU’s Faculty senate is a self-government authority that oversees the activities of the Dean, approves the Faculty’s budget, and participates in many other decisions such as approving the texts for the admission procedure, discussing annual plans of study and accreditation files, approving changes in the Statute of FAMU which is our ‘constitution’ if you will, and discussing suggestions from the Academic Community of FAMU which it represents.

The key role of the Faculty senate is the election of the Dean. This election for the next four-year term of office will be held at our Faculty on 22 February and you are all invited to the plenary meeting of FAMU’s academic community to be held in the Reference Screening Room of FAMU Studio on 15 February to witness the presentations of the candidates for the office. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss. I am not running for the position again, and during the December meeting of the Academic Senate of FAMU, I offered a summary of what the Dean does or does not do and which matters of the Faculty’s development and organisation are in progress so that my successor can choose whether or not to continue pursuing them.

AMU’s school-wide Senate is a self-government authority, in which each of the three AMU Faculties is represented by five representatives. AS AMU reviews the Rector’s activities and approves AMU’s budget and other affairs of key importance for the operation of the entire school. It can voice its position on crucial regulations such as the Accreditation Rules or the Academic and Attendance and Examination Rules, which are issued by the Rectorate of AMU and determine the form of tuition to a great extent. It also approves the Internal Payroll Regulations that defines the amount of salary tariffs at AMU and approves changes in the Statutes of AMU, the ‘constitution’ of our Academy.

Each candidate, whether for the Faculty or the Academy Senate, is required to submit their idea of how they will work on the Senate. You will receive these concept documents in our Election Special, and they will also be posted on our website. The candidates will also introduce themselves during a plenary meeting of the academic community of FAMU. Come to ask them questions and discuss our school with them. 

Ask questions, take interest, and come and discuss. To a great extent, the school is what we make it together. You play a major role in this – the vote of each and every one of you matters.

I wish you a nice remainder of the examination period and a lovely beginning of the summer semester.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The examination period is approaching, and in our school, this is not just the time for intense study and examinations, but also space to focus on completing the preparations for your creative output. You are completing your scripts and storyboards and getting the final collaborators on board for shared exercises. Longer stretches of time available to you now offer you an opportunity to immerse in your searching, trying, and exploring. Each of us tackles the process differently – some need introspection, silence, and isolation from the rest of the world, while others thrive on sharing, discussing, and developing ideas and planning forms of cooperation together.

January is an exciting month at FAMU also because we get to select the applicants who will become our future students. The number of applicants for our programmes increases with every passing year. There were 588 applicants in 2020/21, 713 in 2021/22, 747 in 2022/23, and 769 in 2023/24 for bachelor’s programmes. I am happy to see the growing demand for studying with us while receiving feedback from heads of Departments to the effect that the quality of applicants is steady or improving. When it comes to the structure of the classes whose work I subsequently get to see during the final commissions, I appreciate the openness to diversity: future students come from different contexts, and I am always happy to see them growing as far as knowledge and skills are concerned and searching for their own means of expression, thinking about work, and benefiting from the space and support the Departments provide to that end.

You will now focus on your exams and creating. Whatever your creative process, I wish you to find room for intensive immersion and gain happiness from it in January.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The final month of the winter semester instruction is intended, among other tasks, for you to complete your ideas and preparations for filming, which should materialise in the first half of 2024. I believe that – also thanks to the project days – you have completed your crews and arranged cooperation with your schoolmates from other departments. The point of your subject exercises is that you complete them alone – they are designed for you to develop a specific professional skill vital for your specialisation. Give this introductory and preparatory stage of your practical assignments enough time, attention, and focus: not every single exercise must turn into a complete short film, yet each exercise is an expression of your thinking, dexterity, skills acquired through study, and artistic stance. You are free, having the space to think every single aspect through individually, your way.

While fulfilling our creative visions, let us keep in mind those who would like to express themselves freely but cannot because they live under political oppression, war, or poverty. I am grateful for the fact that we can create and develop our school together, so that you have opportunities to create your art in accordance with your thoughts, worldview, profession, and art.

I wish you a lovely December.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The graduation ceremonies take place in November. Whether you perceive them as a meaningful academic ritual whereby graduates celebrate the completion of their studies or as a necessary announcement of the completion of your studies that addresses primarily your relatives and loved ones, I would like to use this opportunity to encourage both graduates and current students among you to stop for a moment and think about the years of your studies and the future steps in your professional life. I believe that, over the course of your studies, you have had an opportunity for free development in seeking your own expression and that the personalities you have met at the Departments have inspired and encouraged you in your quest. I also believe that what you take away is the experience of conduct and approach to colleagues that is based on mutual respect, listening, and an attitude built on inclusiveness and encouraging diversity. If you bring these values into the professional environment, you can reverse the transfer of values: there is no need to ‘tolerate’ or ‘suffer through’ anything just because ‘it will be the same in real life’ – it is possible to enter the audiovisual world and build and develop an environment that will place emphasis on considerateness, be perceptive of sensitivity, and honour diversity.

I wish you a lot of joy in studying and creating.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

 

Welcome to the new academic year 2023/24.
 

Let me congratulate those of you on completing your exercises and films that were presented during our final commission screenings. It was a genuine pleasure to witness the way you think, try things, work with the film language in a consistent and inventive way, and approach urgent topics. I am immensely proud of the amazingly diverse caches of both annual and graduation works.
 

We have created infrastructure, places and processes in the school environment that can give you support and room for expression. It really matters to me to make sure that your views are seen, your experience taken into consideration and your needs heard.

 

This year marks the third time that first year students completed the Konsent training on the boundaries in interaction between people and conduct in school and in the Faculty community as an integral part of education focused on internal culture and values with a view to creating a friendly and safe environment (this training applies to all of us – we also run these workshops in an adapted form for teachers, leaders and other employees). Over the course of the year, workshops organised by the ombud will follow (the first of them will focus on mental health and inner balance), as will training events on the topic of measures for students with special needs, for example. All Faculty communication uses an inclusive language. The second infrastructure cornerstone of this approach is the Faculty psychologist whom you can consult free of charge. If you contact her via e-mail, you can expect her reply within one week and an appointment in about two weeks. The third key point of our Faculty infrastructure for a fair environment is the ombud.

 

As far as space is concerned, I encourage you to use our excellent library which boasts a unique collection of resources in our field(s), access to industry text databases, a quiet study, booths for watching films, and a classroom where films can also be viewed. In addition, you can find four chillout zones on the premises of the freshly decorated Lažanský Palace (to the left of the staircases/lift in the corridors on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors) where you can rest between classes and meet colleagues from other Departments. After a long time, the FAMU Club has launched operation offering good quality meals with vegan alternatives at accessible prices and student discounts.
 

Finally, processes: your opinion is important. You can communicate it through your Department’s student ambassadors and as part of internal evaluation in October (this applies to the entire past academic year). In this process, you can comment on tuition as well as on the course of the production of your exercises, your overall workload, school background, and the way your Department works. You can appreciate things, point out gaps and shortcomings, and suggest improvements. You can comment in detail on the subjects you study at the end of each semester using brief electronic questionnaires in the KOS. Last but not least, I regularly invite you to monthly meetings with the Dean – a venue in which I am happy to personally hear your ideas, comments, and worries, so that we can work on them together.

 

I wish you joy of new knowledge and creative thinking about your projects throughout the entire academic year.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The ‘marathon’ that is the final commissions started last Wednesday and will continue until 28 September. I am really proud of all exercises and films that have been completed. The initial screenings showed exercises without completed sound mix and/or colour grading. I would like to encourage you to be consistent in post-production and give room to students from the Sound Design and Cinematography Departments so that they can present their work completed and in the form they consider final. I am very happy about the works that I have seen so far, as it shows how diverse you are, what topics matter to you, and how you explore and seek ways of expression. The process of exploration and discovery is actually the most important part of it all – you are trying to make a film of a specific genre or cover a topic that is not trivial; when in the cutting room, you see that you need a certain type of shots, so you go back to film them, and then you try to put the composition together the way that really expresses what you and your crew meant originally. I really appreciate every single exercise resulting from a sincere effort to improve one’s competences and skills and achieve a form that communicates your key topic.

Having been a student too, I remember well my own I experience of the final commissions in September. There was always nervousness and a huge amount of doubt, humility when facing the various filmmaking professions, and the desire the next time to express oneself better and more poignantly, fulfil the initial objective, yet also be able to better respond to surprises and unexpected moments during the filming. I wish you to be happy with your work while also being able to analyse the direction in which your work is taking you, the means of expression and topics you want to explore, and the methods of narration and communication that you want to further perfect.

I am looking forward to meeting you during the screenings.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

If you are busy completing your exercises and films or writing your bachelor’s and diploma theses during the summer, I wish you a lot of strength, focus, and inspiring moments. Do not forget to read: immersion in text – whether it be fiction, technical literature or poetry – gives the brain different types of tasks for processing stimuli from watching films, it allows for a slower rate of thinking, and can enrich you with new viewpoints regarding the matters you may be thinking of.

I wish to share my joy over the work of the ombudsperson who presented her annual report at the meeting of FAMU’s Academic Senate in late June. Less than one year into her tenure, Pavlína Junová has addressed 51 suggestions, organised several training, support and facilitation activities, has been preparing the Code of Ethics of FAMU along with a workgroup further to the FAMU Ethical meetings, and took part in an international conference organised by the European Network of Ombudspersons in Prague that proved extremely inspiring for the Czech ombuds’ platform, which is growing rapidly at a breathtaking pace. I am happy that FAMU was at the beginning of founding and developing the office of ombuds as a key part of university infrastructure.

A meeting between the top representatives of the audiovisual industry and Prime Minister Petr Fiala with Minister of Culture Martin Baxa took place at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on 2 July. I took part in it. The meeting focused primarily on the draft amendment of the Audiovisual Act and the system of incentives as well as the fact that they are currently unusable. In addition to a consensus on the amount of the parafiscal charges forming the future income of the transformed audiovisual fund and a constructive solution for how film incentives should work, the meeting also covered the structure of the audiovisual fund and the drafting of its strategic documents. Discussing the amendment, FAMU and other tertiary schools that teach audiovisual work promote primarily strong systematic support for authors, both established and up-and-coming, as well as budding producers, defining the prerequisites for meaningful and conceptually thought-out support for the development, production and distribution of audiovisual works, film education, and integrating the aspects of environmentally sustainable filmmaking in the Act.

I wish you a beautiful August, and am looking forward to seeing you at the final commission screenings that will begin in the last week of August.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Congratulations to all those of you who completed your final commission exams in June. I am happy to note that we have been able to distribute film production over the course of the academic year, so that more and more final commissions care completed in June every passing year. However, many of you have yet to finish your exercises and films for the final commissions in September. I wish you to find time for absorbing inspiration even when you are busy completing your work – from reading, exhibitions, films and any activities you find fulfilling. Giving out energy and thinking your work through is a beautiful process, but it is also exhausting, and so absorbing inspiration and perceptions during the process is also very important. The perceptions I mention can include taking part in the final commission screenings of not only your work but also the work of your schoolmates from other Departments. Do not forget about colour grading and sound mix – these parts of the postproduction allow you to present your work the way that you truly perceive it in its entirety. In addition, showing the completed work to the members of your crew during your final commissions is immensely important.

Before we dive into a summer full of creating, I would like to emphasise one value that we communicate in various forums, yet also one that bears repeating more often: the objective of your creative endeavour neither is nor has to be placing a film exercise at a film festival. It is wonderful if you gain experience in presenting your films and taking part in international festivals, but this is only a potential side effect. The primary purpose is for you to try things, seek your own expression and method of presenting the topic by working with means of expression in agreement with your creative perceptions, and to not be afraid to experiment and discover – you will never find as much space to do that again as while in school.

I wish you a lovely summer.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

You usually work hard in June, whether completing your work for final commission presentation this month or preparing field, individual, or team exercises and films for final commissions in September. I wish you good concentration, a sense of conceptual thinking, and inspiration and ideas to use in your creative process.

One year ago, we were experiencing a difficult period following the publication of stolen e-mail conversations between several teachers. FAMU, AMU, and the affected teachers filed criminal complaints and the police investigated the case; this April, the police informed us that the case had been suspended. Several complaints against the suspension have been lodged; the police are currently assessing the steps to take next. These developments were presented to the AS AMU and AS FAMU. This difficult period was followed by various constructive steps, primarily in cooperation with the ombudsperson; six FAMU Ethical meetings were held in the autumn; and a workgroup involving various representatives of the Faculty community is now processing the suggestions from the meetings into a FAMU Code of Ethics.

In addition to our final commissions, I also visited the presentations at other schools (the Sutnar Faculty in Plzeň and FaVU in Brno). It is nice and inspiring to see what students at other schools create and how they present it. Half-page explications (concepts) posted next to the works throughout the exhibition are the standard somewhere; elsewhere, just a caption is attached but studios post explanations of the current ideas behind the briefs and the ways of approaching the brief in the creative process. The production background differs a lot. Typically, students are given the room and equipment in school but no budgets for their work. Having been able to compare, I am really happy about the dialogue and discussion aspect of our final commissions: consistent, structured, and analytical feedback given outside studios is immensely important for the author’s thinking and development; explaining creative decisions is a way to practice the ability to communicate creative decisions to others, verbalising one’s inner tension and processes. If you have any suggestions for evolving or improving the final commission presentations, please write your suggestions in the evaluation forms, so that we can draw inspiration from your ideas.

Finally, I wish you a lot of strength, good ideas, great collaborations, and opportunities for contemplating your work, so that it can truly reflect who you are.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Work on practical exercises is in full swing and the contact instruction of the summer semester is coming to a close. You are now immersing yourselves in concentration over your work that you have been preparing for many moths: I wish you for this process to be intensive, constructive and dialogic within crews, and beneficial in the form of experience that you will gain by trying to make your plans and ideas reality.

The recent plenary meeting of the academic community was rife with discussion. The debate was one hour longer than scheduled and showed how many things there are that we want and urgently need to discuss together. We heard excellent suggestions relating to sustainable filmmaking, first year practice, and the operation of FAMU Studio. I am taking the suggestions from the plenary meeting to the Dean’s Collegium where we will discuss them with the Heads of Departments. One of the topics for the next plenary meeting will be the production of practical exercises and setting up film crews. The fact that students face difficulties finding certain professions for shared exercises has been a reoccurring theme. This is a lingering problem that we at the Dean’s Office have been focusing on intensively, with involvement from the FAMU Studio and all Departments at the Dean’s Collegium. Let me summarise the solution that has been adopted for this academic year; let us hope that it will work, and if it does not, a different solution will have to be devised for the next academic year:

- An extensive capacity study conducted approximately one year ago has shown that if the White Book were observed, there would be no shortage of professions given the current numbers of students at the individual Departments. Therefore, all the Departments and the FAMU Studio agreed, for this year, to abide by the prescribed capacity ratings and film crew profession specifications required in the production sheets for all the exercises. The biggest workload for Departments such as Sound Design and Production has resulted from profession exercises of other Departments, although the White Book does not envisage such exercises to be produced by crews. The strict observance of the White Book, guaranteed by the Heads of Departments, workshop leaders and the FAMU Studio, appears to be the primary (if not the only) alternative to maybe cancelling certain exercises (there are 500–600 of them annually), which is why testing it thoroughly this year is of key importance.

- The systemisation of pre-production and production meetings and their firm scheduling within the academic year should ensure that projects are prepared and crews set up in good time so that the complete crews for shared exercises are prepared at the beginning of the summer semester.

- Post-production meetings have been added to ensure that there is enough time for post-production and that each profession involved in shared exercises is truly given enough space to deliver their part of the collaboration and can present this in the final commission exams.

- Room for setting up film crews is also available on Faculty’s Slack where students can communicate online (the platform was selected on the basis of an academic community vote last year).

- In addition to Department pitching sessions covering the films in the pipeline, there was the first edition of the Project Week where students got to present the films they have been preparing and seek the professions they were lacking in their crews.

I wish you all appetite for seeking and discovering, and joy of filming and post-production.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students, 


Our April newsletter brings you a lot of great news. We are raising salaries; more calls have been made and/or evaluated in addition to research and creative projects already in progress (please pay attention to the GAMU call); student films will feature in the world’s most prestigious film festivals (Annecy, Hot Docs); and we will celebrate student films at FAMUFEST.

One thing that made me happy last month was the way that our students approached participation at CPH:DOX, one of the most progressive documentary film festivals around. Not only did they take part in the industry programme: in addition, guided by teacher Lucie Králová, each of them followed one of the projects through its development, presentation at the Pitching Forum, and one-to-one meetings with the directors and producers during which teams hold negotiations with potential international co-producers, distributors, sales agents, etc. Students had to cope with very busy schedules, but this allowed them to obtain experience they could not obtain in any other way. I want to use this example to point out an approach to the ‘travel abroad’ part of our school’s activities that makes sense: rather than as a ‘trip’ or a vague ‘reward’, it makes sense to approach it as an efficiently structured programme that allows students (as well teachers and other employees in other cases) to get to know current global cinema and be there when it happens, see the current trends in global cinema, develop and expand their knowledge, find international contacts, and draw inspiration.
I wish you a peaceful and pleasant Easter.


Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The Berlinale has shown us clearly what a wealth of diverse experience we can gain within the space of one week. It is also important for you to share this experience with others to extend the takeaway that everyone brings back home from the event. Almost 30 students from various Departments have experienced the global film industry close up and drawn inspiration from the latest films and several programmes geared towards the development of creative approaches, presentation skills, and networking, and learned about the current thought trends in current cinema through various types of involvement in one of the world’s pre-eminent film festivals.

Although the Dean’s election is scheduled for a time nearly a year from now, it will be called this autumn. It will likely stir a variety of emotions, as the Academic Senate election has. My colleagues and I answer the dozens of questions, which we are being asked as to whether I will run for the Dean again, rather vaguely for the time being. There is still time left to make that decision. With that said, various ‘tactical’ attacks at me that I have recently noticed suggest that an early pre-election stage has begun. It will not be an easy period – we can expect various political pressures, all sorts of misleading ‘gossip’ with diverse motivation, rekindling disputes that have been resolved and closed, creating various constructs, and mobilising emotions.

The Faculty leadership has agreed that our priority is to shield you, the students, from any pressures and disagreements as much as possible. It is key for you to focus on your work and studies. Among other things, the various ‘communication rehabilitating’ activities that we as the Faculty community have undertaken in the past two and a half years give me confidence that we at our school can treat each other with dignity and resolve any issues through the appropriate authorities, including any debates this can bring, however heated they may be. I wish to tell you, students, two things: 1. You have the right to your own opinion. 2. You also have the right to not respond to, comment on, or take a stand towards any political matters in school. Therefore, act in your own way and based on what you consider important. The priority is your education process and room for creating.

Honestly, I can tell you that I personally am preparing for the upcoming months that will certainly be very exhausting mentally. This is also why my colleagues and me have defined the following plan:

1) Of course, the most important thing is making sure that the school works well (improving all the time), which means continuing work on addressing your issues (exaggerated curricula, production windows at FAMU Studio to provide adequate facilities to all students, support in staffing film crews, registration and capacity of elective subjects, etc.) Three out of the four aforementioned problems appear to be very close to resolution within this semester, as the solutions tested and/or deployed in the previous semester and the one before that have progressed substantially;
2) Continue the development activities (mentoring with prominent filmmakers of all professions, active participation in festivals and events for film professionals, introducing sustainable film production and modules focused on critical thinking, inner balance, green filmmaking, etc.);
3) Continue improving the terms for teachers and other employees: intensive discussions within the school on this year’s budget have been continuing into the second month now, and it is quite likely that the next across-the-board salary raise effective from April will be much higher than last year;
4) Keep in mind the time dedicated to you – for meetings between the Dean and the students – as well as to any employees who come up with suggestions and ideas or issues.
I will address any politically motivated disputes only after these priorities have been catered to.

It might be a good idea to remember how much we missed coming together in person and sharing creative work one year, two years ago. We can go to school every day now and can teach and study without obstacles: make good use of this. Go to school. I wish you joy of the newly begun semester, the ongoing classes, and the possibility to attend them in person and meet each other in classrooms, studios, and common areas of our school.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

We are approaching the close of the examination period. I believe that preparing for the examination has enriched you, giving you a lot of new insights and, hopefully, also the time to immerse yourselves in films and books that you found enthralling or that surprised you. Those of you who are scheduled to take final commission exams during the winter term have indeed worked on your creative output. I repeatedly noticed that students of certain Departments stayed in school day and night to complete their assignments. I am happy to see your dedication and passion for work, but I am also concerned to see you distressed and having little or no life outside of school. I note that students are overloaded at many Departments, and in dialogue with Departments and subject guarantors, we have suggested several measures to make sure the curricula are less full and offer more room for completing practical assignments.

One of the most efficient ways that you can contribute towards adjusting the curricula is to complete the ‘objem nepřímé výuky’ (Amount of indirect instruction) section in the evaluation forms, which you can find in the KOS. In it, you can write how much time you spend on a specific subject outside of direct (face-to-face) instruction. This data helps us to adjust credit evaluation of subject in a realistic manner. We have no way of obtaining such data other than feedback received from you.

Two project days will be held next week. During them, exercises and films being prepared by crews involving members from different Departments will be presented. The presentations will be held in English and their objective is to give students an opportunity to find out what their schoolmates are working on as well as to find collaborators they may be looking for to add to their crews, or show their interest in collaboration. Every 7-minute presentation will be followed by a short discussion. We will be immensely happy if you come to the Lažanský Palace screening room to have a look on Wednesday and/or on Friday!

I wish you a peaceful time once the examination period is over, and a good beginning of the new semester mid-February.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková

Dear Students,

I wish you a lot of inspiring adventures and experience and also enough space for thinking and creating in the new year.

Last year was a tough one again and, in many respects, it tested our characters and the ability to tackle crisis situations. Thank you for the solidary approach that we have been able to show Ukrainian students and citizens in our shared effort. I was happy to watch your projects and activities, including the free shop opposite the reception desk, the November programme on combating climate crisis, and the involvement of some of you in discussions at the FAMU Ethical meetings, which will soon yield the new FAMU Code of Ethics.

I would like to encourage you to foster the seekers in yourselves. Whatever your Department, it is you who will determine the evolution of filmmaking professions, the way that the Czech film industry will transform, and the development of cinema as an artform. The period of study is the precious time for you to try and discover – it is up to you what will define each profession, what standards will apply to your work, and what its creative and human aspects will be.

I also wish to express – and ask you to share – gratitude for the circumstances we are living in. This applies to our everyday lives and our school. Studying at FAMU is exceptional in several aspects, even in the international context – I mean the relatively generous technological background and exercise budgets, which the school pays from its own resources, and the possibility of shooting on film repeatedly during the studies. Let us be aware of these benefits. I wish you to experience and use them as much as you can as part of your creative thinking.

FAMU was the most successful Czech film producer in terms of international visibility last year. A total of 113 films made by you represented our school at almost 260 festivals and reaped 47 awards. I wish to cordially congratulate everyone whose films were shown and/or appreciated abroad. At the same time, I wish to emphasise that we do not (and will not), in any manner whatsoever, derive the quality of student work solely from festival success. I honestly appreciate every single film exercise made with the intention to learn or practice or develop or reinvent a certain process, as well as any films that you create for the sake of trying and seeking. Even if your attempt is not successful, leads to the discovery of a dead end, or is successful but does not fit the portfolio of any of the festivals, this does not mean that it is of lesser value in the context of our school, the instruction process, and thinking about and developing audiovisual art. There is no competition going on in our school – we seek together and help each other.

We cannot manage everything we want to, and so it is important to choose our biggest focus on the basis of values and respect for the world we live in. May you succeed to your internal satisfaction in this regard this year.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

I wish you a lot of inspiring adventures and experience and also enough space for thinking and creating in the new year.

Last year was a tough one again and, in many respects, it tested our characters and the ability to tackle crisis situations. Thank you for the solidary approach that we have been able to show Ukrainian students and citizens in our shared effort. I was happy to watch your projects and activities, including the free shop opposite the reception desk, the November programme on combating climate crisis, and the involvement of some of you in discussions at the FAMU Ethical meetings, which will soon yield the new FAMU Code of Ethics.

I would like to encourage you to foster the seekers in yourselves. Whatever your Department, it is you who will determine the evolution of filmmaking professions, the way that the Czech film industry will transform, and the development of cinema as an artform. The period of study is the precious time for you to try and discover – it is up to you what will define each profession, what standards will apply to your work, and what its creative and human aspects will be.

I also wish to express – and ask you to share – gratitude for the circumstances we are living in. This applies to our everyday lives and our school. Studying at FAMU is exceptional in several aspects, even in the international context – I mean the relatively generous technological background and exercise budgets, which the school pays from its own resources, and the possibility of shooting on film repeatedly during the studies. Let us be aware of these benefits. I wish you to experience and use them as much as you can as part of your creative thinking.

FAMU was the most successful Czech film producer in terms of international visibility last year. A total of 113 films made by you represented our school at almost 260 festivals and reaped 47 awards. I wish to cordially congratulate everyone whose films were shown and/or appreciated abroad. At the same time, I wish to emphasise that we do not (and will not), in any manner whatsoever, derive the quality of student work solely from festival success. I honestly appreciate every single film exercise made with the intention to learn or practice or develop or reinvent a certain process, as well as any films that you create for the sake of trying and seeking. Even if your attempt is not successful, leads to the discovery of a dead end, or is successful but does not fit the portfolio of any of the festivals, this does not mean that it is of lesser value in the context of our school, the instruction process, and thinking about and developing audiovisual art. There is no competition going on in our school – we seek together and help each other.

We cannot manage everything we want to, and so it is important to choose our biggest focus on the basis of values and respect for the world we live in. May you succeed to your internal satisfaction in this regard this year.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

When the Universities for Climate initiative representatives visited me to discuss the November strike, I was pleased with the way they explained the motivation for their actions. They wanted to give a holiday as important as 17 November a new narrative, one that is current while emphasising the urgency of caring for our planet as another crucial value, and that will fittingly deepen and underscore the dignity of the holiday.

I appreciate everyone who was involved in creating the programme and formulating the targets that we can also develop collectively within our Faculty community. Thank you for your activity, involvement, and thoughts.

I wish you to update your customs, rituals and celebrations in December, each in your own way, so that the emphasis that you see as socially significant and individually enriching can expand the range of your activities and the ways you relax, experience the holidays, and perceive the turn of the year.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The Department self-evaluation data was collected in October. This is one of the two ways for you to comment on your curricula, schedules, production, cooperation with other workplaces and any other affairs that you find good or problematic at school. (The other way of expressing opinions is the anonymous evaluation of the individual subjects using electronic forms in the KOS following each semester.) The report resulting from the self-evaluation, prepared by the Head of the Department, the subject Guarantor and a study ambassador, provides input for the entire Faculty’s self-evaluation report, which is required by law and prepared by the Internal Evaluation Committee. It also provides very important insights to the Departments’ and Faculty leadership, pointing out any changes and solutions that need work. Thank you for your involvement – your voice is important in this.

Over the past few days, I spoke to some of you at large about various issues that you face in the new academic year – such as registering for optional subjects. The matter is quite complicated as it involves many other necessities and preferences of the Departments. The Vice-Dean for Study Affairs and I will be happy to explain the matter to you, for example during one of the meetings with the Dean, or prepare an e-mail on the topic. At any rate, we have been addressing this issue with the Departments intensively for almost two years now. We have just tested some of the solutions; some of them did not work well enough while others did: a comprehensive solution should be in place for the summer semester; we will inform you about it in due course. It is inspiring and beneficial for me to hear your experience and explanations from you – it is good seeking solutions in a dialogue with you. Should you have more suggestions, the next monthly meeting with the Dean will be held on Wednesday 16 November from 1:00 to 2:30 pm under the following link.

We are also working on improving the school’s common areas. The chillout zone in front of the library on the first floor has been joined by seating near the “panel gallery” in the corridor towards the screening room on the first floor. We are working on another shared spot with a table and chairs for you to spend time between lectures. For the next summer, we are planning the decoration, an overall improvement of the premises, and replacement of the lighting system in Lažanský Palace.

We are immensely happy that instruction is currently held in a presence mode, following the regular schedule and allowing you to work on hands-on assignments. Please be respectful of each other – if, for example, you return from a mass event, wear a face mask/respirator for a few days, and be sure to air the room in which you study or work regularly (preferably once every 30 minutes). I wish you good health and joy in everything that you do at school during the semester.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Welcome to the new academic year.

We could almost say that you are once again embarking on a “non-standard academic year” during which society is facing difficult situations that will undoubtedly affect the operation of educational institutions (the energy crisis, the high inflation rate, etc.). However, it appears that “non-standard” years are becoming the “new normal” – simply put, we just work a little bit differently every year. Along with the Vice-Deans, the Secretary and the Department for Student Affairs, we are adapting institutional mechanisms for tackling the new difficult situations. The pandemic period has resulted in many students’ studies distributed or interrupted, causing complications in putting together film crews and aggregating shoots, and requiring changes to be made to curricula and production plans as well as many other “invisible” measures to be adopted. I take this as a natural part of helming an institution during the current times: it is necessary to adapt its functioning to yet more and more complications and adverse circumstances so that it continues to play its primary role in the best possible way, which is to bring new knowledge to its students and offer them space for putting their talent to use and seeking their own artistic expression.

While in the past years we focused on operating as responsibly as possible during the pandemic, this year we are focusing more than ever on energy and, more generally, on our conduct in relation to the environment that we live, work, and study in. We have introduced measures to reduce our use of gas, thanks to which we are currently saving 15% of our consumption. Over the course of the summer, we prepared several crisis scenarios for tackling both larger and major gas supply outages. We have made a plan for immediate, mid-term, and long-term measures to save on electricity. Even though FAMU is located primarily in heritage buildings, we keep seeking the most sustainable ways of operating. Also, we are beginning this year to push towards implementing the rules of sustainable filmmaking in the production of school films as comprehensively as possible.

This month, I will make a call for tenders for the sustainability ambassador. There are so many measures, whether implemented, in progress, or planned, that they have grown into a stand-alone agenda that requires coordination and leadership.

With that being said, no institutional measures will have sufficient impact or work to their maximum potential unless we all work together, reflect on our habits and adapt them, and think of the footprint we leave every day. I will make a personal note here. I have to admit that, personally, an overhaul of habits has been not just a topic but also a personal struggle for me over the past few years. We are so accustomed to certain things! My younger brother, an environmental philosopher, often offers me feedback on how slow I have been in this respect. “Why did you fly to that festival again – do they not have an online video archive? Use trains to travel within Europe!” (Yes, I did take a train to Kassel), and so on. I try to listen to this voice in my head every day, and I see that changing old habits takes effort and does not happen overnight. It is important to progress a little bit forward every day.

I wish to work with all of you to make our school a respectful and responsible environment. We are open to your suggestions and ideas, and sustainable conduct and operation will be the topic of one of the Faculty community meetings planned for this academic year, where I can give you more details about the plans, scenarios and opportunities and listen to any inspiration you can come up with.

The first week of instruction has begun. I wish you that each and every day spent at FAMU is filled with new knowledge, thoughtful exploration and creative discoveries for you.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Many of you are currently experiencing the “final commission month” – the time of the year when you are presenting the assignments that you have worked on throughout the year, whether alone (in branch exercises) or with crews (shared and certain branch exercises). I wish for the process to bring you joy and inspiration, and for these feelings to overcome the nervousness, doubt and uncertainty you may feel. I have been present during several screenings now and I can honestly say they made me really happy. Not because the works were “flawless”. After all, that is not the purpose. I watched with admiration as students spoke about their exercises, being open about the difficulties and obstacles they had to tackle and the solutions they finally devised. It is great that you can view your effort including the hardships that have taught you a lot; now you know how to prevent such situations next time or how to proceed differently from the beginning. Perhaps the only aspect that I have missed in the reflections on the completed works was thinking about the “why”. Why do you find it essential for your work to speak about its subject matter using the means – the visual and sound language – that you chose? Why is this scene toned in blue and why does it include music? Why is this segment in slow motion while another uses fast cutting – what is the purpose of choosing the specific means of expression in relation to what you find important to communicate? I have read about it in detailed treatments and I was intrigued because this gave me an opportunity to peek inside your personal creative processes. You are seeking your method of expression and communication, whether you are sound designers, camerawomen or cameramen, editors, directors, or other professionals (of course, including creative producers). Perhaps the only thing that made me sad was watching films without the completed sound mix or image grading. It means that the sound designer or cameraman or camerawoman did not get the opportunity to show all their skills and step into the key phase of post-producing a work in such a way that they could also consider it the final result of their own work. I believe that this will not be the case next year – that, in a dialogue between Departments and with great producers and consistent schedules – we will find a way to plan filmmaking throughout the year so that every work is fully completed for the final commission exams. Those versions of the works will be forever stored in a publicly accessible library database (as law requires of public higher educational institutions), and they will be available there for years to come in the form as assessed during the final commissions. I was very happy to see so many students from different Departments during the first of the series of shared screenings (where shared exercises are shown in the presence of all collaborating Departments). I believe that, with your feedback following the final commissions, we will be able to find the perfect way to organise such gatherings, giving the students an opportunity to receive feedback, and not only with regard to the work as a whole, its narration and the way it treats the theme, but also in terms of the role and form of using the individual means of expression and the input from the various professions, as well as giving them the floor to comment.

Dear Students, I know the amount of courage you have to find when presenting the results of your creative work to a seasoned, experienced and often exacting audience. I appreciate each individual exercise, any audiovisual work – however small – that you put your thinking, dedication, passion, interest, fantasy and ideas in. Thank you for this amazing creative force that is apparent during each screening. I wish you that the final commission exams are highly educational for you and that they push you a great deal forward as authors.

See you at the screening sessions!

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková

Dean

Dear Students,

in August you finish your films, scripts, photographs and other works for the September final screenings. Perhaps you have already completed it, or you had your final exams in June - in that case, I wish you a good rest before the new academic year and may you receive as many different stimuli as possible.

I remember experiencing August and the subsequent finals from my student years - the constant doubts as to whether the film is already finished (and frequent feeling that it is not), the work on the sound, the nervousness before the screening. I don't want to talk about any universal instructions, everyone experiences the final stages of creation in their own way. However, I would like you to have the possibility and the ability to concentrate, to dive deeply into a work that tells about a topic that is important to you, and you know why, and in a way that you consider "yours". Searching and trying, even at the cost of finding out that something simply won't work, or it simply doesn't work, is worth it in the study process, because above all you discover: ways to express yourself, how to work with means of expression, what creative decisions to make - that everything shapes your individual style (and if I were to add a bit of pathos, I would also add your relationship to the world).

I very much wish you the joy of this discovery.

Warmly,
Andrea Slováková
dean

Dear Students,

For many of you, summertime is the culmination of your creative activity when you complete your exercises and films. I wish you ample concentration as well as room for curiosity and surprise during work. For me, it was always a great experience to work as part of a crew and see the intersections of varied expertise and perspectives that every crew member brings. I wish for such encounters to be constructive and enriching for you. Whether you are working on team exercises or experimenting in solitude, try things and play – the school is your space for exploring and discovering.
I am currently greeting you from the FID Marseille festival where I have just arranged an opportunity for eight of you to come next year for a week of intensive screening and meetings with filmmakers of various professions. To me, FIDM has been one of the most important events on the global festival circuit for years. I often tell my friends: If you want to see what cinema will look like in five years, go to Marseille. For example, yesterday’s screening of a hybrid, diary/documentary/observational/ staged film titled Woman Escapes, which combines 16 mm observations with 3D sequences creating amazing lyrical passages was inspiring in so many respects.

I can imagine how much you have to do during the summer while completing your film, making a lot of creative and organisational decisions, and you are also writing your bachelor’s and diploma theses. I wish you to keep in mind replenishing your own resources and exposing yourselves to inspiration that nourishes your passion for creating even during this period of intense production.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

You have experienced difficult situations in recent weeks, and I know that they have affected many of you. A great percentage of you took part in the plenary meeting of FAMU’s academic community convened by the Senate’s student chamber. It is great that you have convened it and that there was an opportunity to speak out – I am extending my thanks to the student chamber of AS FAMU for organising the meeting. Some of you wrote an open letter; you also attend the meetings of Senates (both FAMU and AMU). I would like to assure you of several things. Your voice matters and is listened to – on multiple sides. We as the Faculty leadership always advocate giving you room for comments where student participation is possible. With that being said, it is completely in order if you do not pay attention to past events or do not want to anymore. The most important thing for you is to focus on completing your semester successfully and, more importantly, on your work. And for those of you who take yet another stance, you who prefer not to speak out while processing your own internal dilemmas associated with (dis)trust and communication in relation to specific persons, we have significantly increased the capacities of our Faculty psychologists, so that you can consult them as early as practicable.

I believe that one possible positive solution to the current crisis would be the preparation of FAMU’s Code of Ethics. It should be drafted in a participative manner, involving the entire Faculty community (or anyone at the Faculty who wishes to take part in the discussions). As such, it would be great if you could take part in the theme sessions that our ombudswoman will organise and voice your experience and opinion on the topics that resulted, among other things, from the aforementioned plenary meeting and the NE!musíš to vydržet performance. This way, we can “enact” a document that will define the limits and rules of FAMU’s internal culture with your assistance.

For now, I wish you full concentration on your own work and a lot of joy to be experienced during this intensive filming period.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear students,

Last month, I was delighted by several meetings focused on creating new opportunities for cooperation for you. It matters to me to make sure that we prepare space and opportunities that make sense in a long-term perspective for you. We work on such new collaborations with schools that are focused on a practical approach, that are leaders in their fields and that make sense as the place to go to expand one’s knowledge and experience (for example, we wish to organise bilateral exchange stays with prestigious film schools such as the National Film School of Denmark, La Fémis, and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia).

We develop such forms of mobility and study and practical stays that will help you navigate the current global film and audiovisual industry.

At the same time, on our home turf, we pursue a deeper acknowledgement and a stronger footing for artistic research across institutions, from the Ministry of Education to our own supporting programmes (for example, the fellowship call in this newsletter; there will be more opportunities this year). Even though the definition of artistic research is still somewhat uncertain in the theoretical framework, many thoughtful authors (including ones among you) work on it, helping to focus such definitions in the process.

If you want to assemble film crews and/or find collaborators or projects to be involved in, FAMU offers the Slack platform. I am happy to see that this way of involvement in making films is also open to the students from the Department of Photography who often desire to cooperate on a deeper level than “merely” documenting the shoots. This also applies to CAS students who are usually among those least involved in inter-Department collaborations. This also applies to KSD students who, in addition to filming their scripts would like to cooperate as dramaturges (for this year, we have expanded the support from 3 to 5 “fifteen-minute pieces” developed in cooperation between KSD and KR). Get connected.

And let us know what else makes sense to you.

I wish you a beautiful spring and a lot of élan for your film projects!

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear students,

In the past week, many of you have been involved in various activities to help Ukraine, you have initiated some of them yourself. I appreciate your commitment, energy, ideas, willingness and helpfulness. I am proud that as a faculty community we can work together in immediate action. Let's persevere in support activities in the coming weeks and months.
This week, the U1 classroom is a place for you who want to meet and discuss or just relax, and at the same time watch the Vigil for Ukraine stream from the National Theater. U1 as a community place remains on Sunday, when the first weekend screenings will take place.
 
Next week, a significant event awaits our school: the FAMU Academic Senate elections. It is in difficult situations that we often learn how important the solid characters and solid foundations of institutions are.
The academic community is a free community in which the principle of representation works on the basis of elections, and you choose the personalities who are to represent you in the main control body of the school. Two essential steps have already been taken: the nomination of candidates and the publication of their concepts (a list of candidates, their nominees and their concepts can be found on the website). Now is the third, most important: vote. March 8-10 - vote - express your opinion, use this space for your vote.


I wish you a lot of strength and joy from joint activities,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

I would like to thank you for completing the student evaluation forms following the winter semester. Many of you asked what subject evaluation was for, why it was done after every semester and what it could really change. The answer to the last part of the question is simple: a lot. Giving feedback represents an important aspect of managing the school: participation. The involvement of students in the form of instruction through giving feedback regularly and consistently is one of the ways to constantly improve our programmes with a view to ensuring that they truly satisfy the students’ needs.

I have been meeting the Heads of Departments last and this week, going through the evaluation of all subjects in detail together and discussing the options for addressing critical remarks and incorporating excellent suggestions that many comments in the evaluation forms provide. A number of changes have been made in several Departments in response to student feedback this year. A greater credit allocation is being considered for certain subjects further to student comments mentioning the amount of required indirect instruction of the subjects concerned. The evaluation of the individual subjects, meetings with study ambassadors and Department self-assessment that is collected in October and focused on broader topics (such as the conditions for and progress of producing exercises, cooperation with the FAMU Studio, the form of final commission screenings and discussions, the camps in Poněšice, study trips, etc.) are also helpful for the Faculty’s leaders. Student suggestions in both evaluation and self-evaluation forms have contributed towards increasing the number of editing suites, purchasing certain equipment and developing certain forms of international cooperation. I believe that the integration of the evaluation process into the school’s natural life is crucial for us to be able to shape the school together as the Faculty community that pursues a shared goal: to develop our Faculty, so that it can guarantee quality education and modern thinking about cinema and about the ways to teach the individual audiovisual professions.

Thank you for participating in this pursuit.

I wish you a nice and inspiring beginning of the new semester.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

I wish you a lot of inner strength and balance in the new year. May you find enjoyment in your work and development during your studies. We are facing another year that will be non-standard and maybe even difficult in many respects. I wish for us all to be able to help each other, show understanding and generosity to types and solutions other than those following strictly your own ideas, and make room for our own creative visions that allow us to express ourselves and reflect on the world that we want to live in and transform.

I would like to work on several objectives with you this year.

  1. Safe and fair studying environment. Last year, we achieved several milestones in building the infrastructure for developing such environment. We have a competent and empathetic school ombudswoman. Thanks to her extraordinary personality and work for us, which she considers meaningful also in the context of the entire tertiary educational segment in the Czech Republic, we have an extensive and detailed Ombudswoman’s Charter and the principles of work in this position, which have already been an inspiration to five other Czech tertiary schools, have been set up. We have increased the capacity of Faculty psychologists, and the Konsent association pursues educational activities in the field of mental health and fair treatment in addition to the ombudswoman’s involvement. We take part in the society-wide debate on the forms of good quality university environment. The Ne!musíš to vydržet student initiative appeared at FAMU before the end of last year. I perceive it as a positive and courageous feat, which is independent of the infrastructure that has been built, yet it can use it if interested. I am happy for an open dialogue and prepared to work with suggestions that the initiative will bring up. I believe that a balanced combination of the students’ personal involvement and ongoing work on the development of institutional infrastructure is exactly what will enable us to constantly improve the environment at FAMU.
     
  2. Setting up film crews. As the semester drew to its close, a discussion was held (at the Dean’s Collegium, with study ambassadors, and through a Facebook poll that has its continuation – see the invitation in this newsletter) with regard to an environment or platform that could work as a “notice board with a chat room” for posting the basic information (both in Czech and English) about the scheduled shared exercise and/or films being made between Departments and staff the vacant positions in film crews. By the end of January, the platform that you eventually choose will be set up and prepared for your projects this year.
     
  3. Background for study ambassadors. Every Department has one or two study ambassadors (two for Departments with study programmes for international students). Their role is immensely important in collecting the self-evaluation every October as a comprehensive reflection on the past academic year. It is also the key position for communication between students and the Department and Faculty officials. Last year, we introduced this position for English programmes. I would like to use this opportunity and voice my sincerest thanks to the ambassadors for their consistent and sensitive communication. I met them several times this year, and I really appreciate their perceptiveness, thinking and structured feedback on the operation of the school. We are preparing a clearer definition or list of recommendations on how they can work in a dialogue with the ambassadors. Think about this along with us and tell your ambassadors what you need from them, what you appreciate about their work and what you expect.
     
  4. Transformation of final commission exams into an inter-Department dialogue. Let me begin with a personal note. When I was the head of Nakladatelství AMU, we started releasing the final commission book. Those were texts about student films written by personalities outside the school who let us be open to impulses from beyond our Departments. Since then, I have been to almost all final commission screenings unless there was a scheduling conflict. For years, I was puzzled because I got to see certain films three or four times at different Departments, and some screenings were followed by immensely valuable and inspiring discussions that would greatly benefit filmmakers from other Departments. I mean the benefit of editors and directors hearing what sound design or cinematography students and teachers think about their shared exercise, and vice versa. I was by far not alone with this idea. This is why, last year, we held two pilot screenings for shared exercises, inviting all the Departments involved at once. This transformation is rather slow and has not been fully successful. Later on, I spoke to students and their response was almost unanimous in the sense that they welcome the potential of interdisciplinary discussions. We will continue in this effort this year and prepare the logistics for September final commission exams as early as in March, so that, in addition to serving the individual Departments, they can also provide a platform for mutual inspiration between the Departments.

In conclusion of this unusually long foreword, allow me to make one personal remark. I underwent a herniated disk surgery before Christmas. This is a relatively common surgery and I am recovering well; I should be back in school in the latter half of January. The condition made me slow down, and during that time, I got to watch the work of healthcare professionals, overburdened and tired good souls who work well and diligently, and still manage to communicate openly and answer questions. I am grateful for their amazing work and admire their character, which shows at times of trouble and crisis. We all know that the healthcare sector has been under immense pressure throughout the pandemic era. It is inspiring to see such helpful ways of coping and acting. May we all be able to treat the world as personalities who use their strength for development and for making it a better place for everyone.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Béla Tarr’s visit was a powerful experience for me. During the screening of one film, we were sitting in the lobby, and David Čeněk was having a video call with Carlos Reygadas (making an appointment for next year). Mr Tarr said: “Carlos, I’d like to hear him – we could have called him together…” And he started speaking about a film school that he once founded where instruction was all about intensive workshops with authors who presented their specific styles. For example, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (we are making arrangements for his visit to FAMU as well) took everyone to the forest and they meditated for half a day. It made us laugh. Then Mr Tarr shared his reflections on our school with me – the way he saw it after meeting 16 students every day and working closely with them for two weeks. He placed emphasis on certain values: encouraging the development of imagination – not just obeying instructions; thinking – free thinking about forms, about one’s own expression; thinking about the way you want to narrate; and working with various means of expression.

I appreciate you, students, for taking part in the instruction and, despite these difficult and non-standard times, seeking impulses and developing and pushing your creative thinking. I wish you a lot of inner strength and balance.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Welcome to the new academic year. The most important thing I wish to say to welcome you is: Go to school. A seemingly banal wish or invitation has an entirely new meaning and urgency now, in the context of the past one and a half years. One year ago, we started school with stringent sanitary and safety precautions, yet also with cautious optimism. Ten days later, we were compelled to switch to distance instruction and almost completely quit hands-on classes. In addition to many other things, the past period has taught us that however justified or firm our assumptions – and the resultant expectations of the future – may be, our position in relation to the planned reality is unstable. We are now starting school with a keen awareness of how fragile the current status and opportunities are. Make full use of every day when you can be physically present at school, see your schoolmates, talk to your teachers in person, work on practical tasks assigned to you during your classes, and create both individually and in teams.

The lockdown times allowed us to explore the less exposed or realised parts of ourselves – the focused, independent or even solitary sides of ourselves, which are more aware of immersion into private, intimate worlds. The beginning of the academic year is again opening the room for you to open up those sides of yourselves to a more intensive dialogue, to everyday sharing in space and time with people who have the same passion for audiovisual or visual expression, for creative thinking, and also for learning about the world the way it is presented to us and to those with whom we will experience everyday school. May this shared experience be a source of stimulation and development for you.

Andrea Slováková

Dean

Dear Students,


Welcome back to school. I wish us all an inspiring presentation of your year-end and final exercises and films during the clausura examination. Make sure to see clausura exams in other Departments in addition to yours – you can see interesting exercises in your field and gain better insights into what and how your schoolmates in other fields do.
I would especially like to address our new students who are joining us in their first year of study. You will get to know each other, also through working on hands-on exercises. During your studies, you will form bonds that may last and be of use to you in your future professional careers. The time that you get to spend in school is an exceptional period in terms of what you can/should focus on and use your time and mental space for. Of course, you have your other interests and activities, and sometimes you need to do some work. I understand the tension between taking care of your life and fulfilling your school duties (and joys!) from my experience. What is crucial is that you should focus on school and collaboration in classes with full attention and commitment, so that your connection with activities in school achieves a certain degree of intensity – and I cordially wish that you attain this. Thematise your tensions, speak about them and seek advice if need be – ask your teachers, the school psychologist and/or our ombudswoman. Try to seek balance for managing those parts of your life, because the time and concentration that you focus on school in this form of free space for divergent creative thinking and education is something that you will not enjoy to have later on in your professional life. Make sure to use the space and the opportunities for seeking, for open personal expression and for working together with your schoolmates when thinking and working together on shared exercises, now and in the years to come.

I wish you an inspiring time of preparation for the upcoming semester.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

You are currently working on your hands-on exercises and creations at the most intense pace for all of the year. I get to encounter you in the corridors and tea kitchens and in Lažanský Palace, and it appears to me that you are in your element – you are happy even though sometimes things may not be working the way you intended. You may have had to resign on certain specificities of your initial plans, but try to approach such changes and inconveniences resulting from time limits and/or previous restrictions on hands-on production as obstacles that challenge you to devise creative and unorthodox solutions, to be a different type of seekers than you would normally think of.
Also, try to finish your projects so that all the specialists in your crews get to participate in them – make sure to manage to do the final cut, colour correction, and sound design. I remember how turbulent and hectic the times of finishing films are from the time of my own studies. At any rate, the conditions under which you need to think about and produce your projects will never be the same again in your professional lives, so I hope that you will make the best use of them.
I wish you an intensive and exploratory rest of the summer.

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The exhibition of the year’s works from the Centre for Audiovisual Studies made me happy last week. We are experiencing a difficult academic year, and it has been difficult primarily for you, our students. The gravity of the fluid uncertainty all around us is reflected in the content of many of the works, yet I admired many ingenious, multi-layered and aesthetically diverse works of art. The students of the Department of Photography have also presented some of their year’s work. I am happy to see that the creative visions, which many of the works show, are clear, well thought-out and resolute. Perhaps they have become the proverbial firm places for you to stand on. I would like to thank the teachers who encouraged and motivated the students during the entire year and made the teaching process happen fully despite the unusual situation.

We are all overwhelmed by multitude of information every day. Critical thinking provides useful navigation in the deluge. An approach that takes into consideration multiple possible views of an issue also allows for understanding the context of information or opinion. The source from which a message comes is substantial – who says it, where, when, and under what circumstances. However, it is also important to what they respond with their message. If it is a personal Facebook status, albeit widely shared, was it a response to another message or to media content? If such a text contains information that disturbs you, verify it. Often, it is not very difficult to find a reliable open source to confront personal or emotional statements with and obtain information or context as the foundation for one’s own critical thinking.

Many of you will make or finish your films and other clausura works this summer. I wish you a lot of focus, creative strength and joy of the work.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

 

Dear Students,

I am happy to note that the production of your exercises and films is running full steam ahead now. In addition, you are also working on your written assignments – whether they are smaller seminar papers, final qualification theses, or the output for your grants. If you seek resources, books and texts relevant for your topic, reference services may prove a useful tool. One of the best, which also covers the audiovisual field and various theme areas within it, is Oxford Reference, which our library has prepaid for you. You can read more in the article. You may have happened to find more focused time, and to use it for reading, during the ‘closed times’ of the different stages of lockdown. If a love of books has held sway over you in addition to your cinephile passion, do not give it up. I wish you that, every day, you find reading that will make you happy with the various ways that it develops critical thinking and methods of arguing and opens up sources of inspiration and viewing cinema and the world from new angles.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

I am happy to note that most of you are already working on your hands-on exercises, making films. Let me voice my admiration and praise for those who have managed to thoroughly prepare their projects in the past months, so that they can start producing them now.

We worked on certain documents during the past weeks that involved various statistics; let me share one of the stats with you: FAMU has 23 associate professors, of whom just two are female, and 18 professors, of whom just one is female. Even though I did notice that it is mostly men who submit applications for associate professorship and professorship procedures, the ratio of this disproportion surprised me. I remembered speaking to three of our great female teachers and artists and asking them if they were considering associate professorship. They explained that there were various issues, in particular regarding time, that prevented them from doing so, even though they would like to. I also remembered how I wanted to staff certain councils and panels ensuring a better gender balance earlier during my tenure, and I struggled with a shortage of women with higher academic degrees (and not only in-house at FAMU). This phenomenon is well-known and common in academia. I would like to use this opportunity to convey the following message: if you know of any teachers who would like to become associate professors with their art work but are short of time to prepare for the procedure, encourage them to speak to us about the obstacles they have to tackle: to speak to the heads of their Departments or to the Dean’s office. We will be happy to encourage them, for example by means of a creative sabbatical (the terms and conditions of which are described in the collective bargaining agreement), by reconsidering the current structure of their other obligations, and so on. I invite you, dear students: encourage them too. Such a dialogue enables us at the Faculty to continue working on the preparation of systemic measures geared towards giving more consistent assistance to people who foster children.

I wish you a lot of strength for work and joy of filming.
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Even though the space of our school still remains largely virtual for us all, I am happy when we all take part in its operation, transformation and reflections. It makes me happy when you suggest the topics and competences to develop and improve as part of the modules, when you complete the subject evaluation forms like you did in February, when you contribute your footage to the FAMU time-lapse film that we have been ‘collecting’ since October. It is great when you share your feelings about distance learning with each other and with teachers, and when you are active in debates and solving tasks in classes. And when you individually deliver those of your hands-on assignments that you can actually work on. You may well feel that it is unfair for you to be stricken by the pandemic times and the non-standard hands-on classes. Things are difficult for you. With that said, not all the differences are necessarily bad – the conditions under which you are currently thinking, fantasising and creating are simply very different from what your older schoolmates experienced. Delivering on audiovisual assignments individually may push you forward in many respects, deepen your insights, and offer you a different view of why and how you want to film, photograph, write or create. Be persistent in your individual assignments. We at the Faculty headquarters and FAMU Studio keep doing everything we can so that we can launch hands-on assignments for crews as soon as possible. You can also use the present days to finalise your scripts, storyboards and filming preparations. Maybe you have had to change your plans. Just remember the film Five Obstructions where Lars von Trier challenged his mentor Jørgen Leth to remake his own famed The Perfect Human subject to the restrictions set by Trier. This way, he updated and pointed to one of the key components of Leth’s creative method: setting oneself rules and obstacles as a concept. Let us update Leth’s method, and we may even succeed in turning some of the bothersome obstructions into fruitful, surprising or entertaining ones.
They may even turn into discoveries.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

The summer semester has begun with modified schedules, distance instruction and limited possibilities for hands-on work. You may say to yourselves how unfair it is for you to be disadvantaged compared with other years’ students. It has been difficult for you. However, some of the disadvantages could be turned into advantages. You have more of focused and/or introspective time, so read, watch films, write and think about your films and works of art. Individual hands-on work is permitted, so you can create smaller assignments or exercises. These difficult and sometimes downright annoying times could also serve us to focus on reflection more – in the sense that we can reflect on art, films and texts in order to cultivate our analytical and critical thinking.

The purpose of the structure of instruction in this semester is to ensure that as many subjects without hands-on activities as possible are taught during the first six weeks, so that, starting from mid-April, we are ready to spend as much time as possible filming if it is possible.

During the past months, we focused a lot on the methodology for online instruction. We are offering teachers individual consultations to discuss the possible form of the subjects that they teach. Online course platforms that have been in existence for many years also provide various sources of inspiration. You can help too – by being actively involved in classes, asking the teachers questions, offer suggestions and participate in debates or initiate them. Remember our online St. Nicolas Party – how much fun the online quiz was: you can make similar ones in classes, interconnect platforms and be inventive. If you have ideas and good experience, share them. Do not hesitate to share them even with us at the Dean’s Office – so that we can seek and find various forms of distance learning together to make them enriching and functional as well as intriguing and pleasing for you.

I wish you a lot of strength and joy of studying and creating (individually for the time being).

Yours sincerely,
Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

We are closing a difficult winter semester. You can deliver your hands-on tasks only individually; you cannot work in crews, which must be difficult and sad for you. We all believe in and try to contribute towards reversing the epidemic developments through widely shared efforts and by acting responsibly, so that hands-on instruction in groups can be renewed as soon as possible. We are also in contact with the Ministry of Education regarding the specificities of our instruction, trying to obtain reasonable exemptions.

As the semester is coming to a close, I would like to encourage you to give your feedback on teaching in the forms that are available in the KOS for every subject and will be open until 16 February. The Heads of Departments were informed about it at a Collegium meeting in December and student ambassadors were informed in January, and the questionnaire includes both multiple choice questions and space for your comments (your comments are not mandatory – this is space for your suggestions should you have any that you want to share).

We have encountered more frequent occurrences of disinformation during the past month. Disinformation is powerful. It works a bit like gossip – misleading or incorrect information can resonate if it is set cleverly in a seemingly logical narrative, and it spreads on. Eradication of the disinformation, however credible or supported, sill not reach many of those who received the initial disinformation, so the original or even evolving disinformation survives in the conscience. Your opinion is important for the life of the school and for the development of study programmes! It matters to us to ensure that you have free and safe space to express it. This is why I wish to encourage you to verify your information. Confront multiple reliable sources, ask multiple people actively including outside your bubble, and seek context and circumstances.

If you are going through difficult times or not feeling well, you can consult our faculty psychologist, the amazing Ms Hedvika Boukarová. In addition, an ombudswoman will work here from February. This position is not very common in the Czech Republic (it exists at the Palacký University and the University of South Bohemia), but it is a common way of offering support to students and employees abroad. I believe that Ms Klára Laurenčíková will contribute towards better internal culture, calm, fairness and security in our school environment.

I wish you a lot of strength for completing this semester.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

I wish you all the best in the new year. First and foremost, I wish good health to you and your loved ones. I know how much you desire to shoot films, take the plans that you have been thinking about during the winter to reality, and work on hands-on assignments. If there is an assignment you can deliver on your own, don’t stop – keep on creating. For exercises and films made with crews, we have to wait until the situation is safe. It is frustrating; you are concerned about managing to make your films on time and the way you envisage. Maybe you will not be able to realise your visions fully. Still, do not stop thinking of each and every aspect of your films, about your creative decisions. Draw your story boards, keep in touch online with other crew members, hunt for inspiration, discuss, watch, and read anything that stimulates, provokes and pushes you. As soon as the epidemic situation improves to level 3, crew filming will start. Times are difficult for you. Different. Your situation is different from that of students in past years. Nevertheless, I believe that the uniqueness of every single of you can manifest despite these different conditions.

I wish you with all my heart that whatever you do is meaningful and fulfilling for you.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

When you sent in your shots for our October film, my perception was that you were experiencing isolation, emptier environment around you, silence, and individualisation of otherwise collective activities – but I was also under the impression that you were able to find a source of inspiration in these untypical settings, to read the developments in your own vision, and see humorous sides to situations. I was happy to see your creative energy despite the tough times. With effect from Monday, 7 December, you will be able to use your energy in classes again because all hands-on educational activities will be allowed on a presence basis. You are now faced with a few remaining days of largely distance mode of operation when you can think about your ideas and scripts and forms of solving specific practical tasks before you get to solve them in reality.

Many of you are far from your homes and your loved ones during these difficult times, and you don't know when you can see them. It is great that you have stayed in touch with each other and with your Departments during the period of distance instruction. It was a difficult period that hopefully will be balanced out now with hard work on hands-on assignments.

I wish you success and joy in your hands-on classes.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear students,

We have the first month of the winter semester behind us in pandemic conditions. In the first third of the month, the teaching took place according to the traffic light, then only remotely. It is challenging in many ways - for you and your teachers.
But it is also an opportunity - we are a film school and digital audiovisual expression is natural for us. Let's also look at the teaching (about) of film in a virtual environment as a kind of genre, whether it is dominated by performative elements (both by teachers and you, students), found footage procedures (fragments of audiovisual or other works that you debate about), or essay elements of informed and substantiated argumentation. Let's add (self) reflexive moments to these procedures - if you have ideas on how to differentiate and develop meetings within individual subjects, talk to your teachers, think within departments, and also share mutual knowledge of good practices.

We all care about meeting every day with you to have continuous stimuli for thinking and deepening your knowledge, and more than ever, the forms of how to achieve this depend on all of us together.

I wish you a lot of inner strength and a desire for a certain playfulness and constant discovery.
And good health for you and your loved ones.

Andrea Slováková
Dean

Dear Students,

Welcome to the new academic year.

We are opening it under changed and variable circumstances that affect our personal, professional and study lives in many unprecedented ways. The majority of your instruction will take place in a distance mode or in various hybrid forms. You will meet in person less than you have been used to. The school as a whole and the individual departments have been preparing for these methods of teaching. Your teachers face a formidable task of reinventing their subjects, rethinking them and preparing them in a different way. Teaching is a shared process and you play a substantial role in it – you are its co-creators. Online meetings allow for various ways of interactivity and sharing, so do take part in them. If you have ideas and suggestions, talk to your teachers or heads of departments. With the new modes of operation, be teachers too, along with your schoolmates. Deepening our knowledge is the most important shared interest and objective for us all – and whether or not we manage to use the new forms of instruction to that end also depends on us all.

Most of all, I wish you and your loved ones good health. I also wish for the upcoming semester to be beneficial and inspiring to you, albeit in entirely new and perhaps quite unexpected ways.

Andrea Slováková
Dean