Platform for Meetings of Three Film Schools: Documentary Film between Prague, Zlín and Bratislava
The major film schools on the territory of former Czechoslovakia are aware of each other, but they lack opportunities for regular meetings in person and for sharing specific creative and teaching experience. This should change with the newly emerging platform intended to facilitate liaising between the documentary film departments of the three schools (FAMU’s Department of Documentary Film; the Audiovisual Arts Studio, Faculty of Multimedia Communication, University of Tomáš Baťa; and the Documentary Film Studio, Film and TV School, Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava). Keynote speakers Alice Růžičková, Irena Kočí and Peter Kerekes will present the method and principles of teaching at their schools and introduce the members of their respective delegations. Film director and FEMIS teacher Claire Simon will be the international guest of the event. Her film Přijímačky/Le Concours (2016, 100 minutes) will provide an introduction for the meeting, and the following online webinar guided by her will facilitate the discussion between the participants. The output of the event will be the publication of Claire Simon’s webinar and her film on an online platform, both with subtitles in Czech to serve both students and teachers of our film schools for further development.
Workshop on Tereza Došková’s science/research project: Genre and Game
Where is the borderline between the film and video game genres? What does it actually mean? We will discuss games and films such as Uncharted, Alien: Isolation and Alien to find out how mutual genre adaptations influence each other: where the video game medium adopts film genre elements and where it loses them and morphs into a fully individual discipline.
The workshop will be accompanied by commentaries from interviews with video game makers who work on these issues in practice and develop theories on the direction the video game medium is going in as well as on its convergence with (and divergence from) the world of cinema. Ben Bauer, Content Director for Far Cry 5, 6, Primal and Crysis II; Chris Torchia, Art Director for DayZ; Miki Podprocky, Art Director for Kingdom Come: Deliverance; Tom Roller, Senior Producer for Mafia II, III and The Amazing Spider-Man, and Peter Gelencser, Senior Level Designer for Witcher III and Cyberpunk have shared their thoughts.
Workshop on Lea Petříková’s science/research project: “Introducing Edd Dundas: Between San Francisco, Tokyo and Queer Film”
The workshop focuses on the films made by Edd Dundas, a near-forgotten representative of (not just) American experimental cinema scene. Dundas is a remarkable figure whose artistic reach encompasses several phenomena: his own creative work that often reflects on the topic of gay sexuality, working with seemingly disparate entities and authors from completely different environments (gay porn scene on the one hand, custom films for Sandoz on the other), and cinematic reflection on altered states of consciousness. The workshop focuses on the altered states topic, primarily in connection with Dundas’ film The Burning Ear (1964), which the director made for Sandoz during his study and working stay in Japan in the 1960s.
The first part of the workshop will introduce Dundas’ work and set it in context with the environment it interacted with (the American experimental scene, gay pornography and films commissioned by Sandoz). The Burning Ear (26 min) will be screened in the second part, followed by a lecture that will set the film in the context of the (queer) history of Japan’s experimental cinema and try to interpret the film through the themes of altered states and queer perspective.
The workshop will be held in the form of a module at FAMU; estimated duration: 2–3 hours.
The 7th Annual Conference of the Department of Photography, FAMU: Operational Aesthetics and/as Black-boxing
In the first half of the nineteenth century, a new transmedia genre emerged: from newspapers and fiction to manuals, from science exhibitions to amusement shows, the general public was exposed to information about new technologies and scientific discoveries. The language of technical explanation and scientific description became a form of recreational literature and the cultural sphere became saturated with jargon that concentrated on the methods of operation and on the aspects of mechanical organisation and construction that became part of the process of “domesticating” new technologies in everyday life. In the twentieth century, scientific and technical knowledge became increasingly limited to professionals due to its increasing complexity and scale. Technologies have become gradually black-boxed, not only in terms of design but also discursively: the language of construction and operation has been largely replaced by one of productivity, efficiency and power. With the emergence of AI, specifically artificial neural networks, the problem of black-boxing has reached a new level since its workings are opaque even for professionals. This poses difficulties especially in terms of trust and acceptance on the part of the public and stimulates calls for “explainable AI”. The workshops will focus on both historical and emerging practices of operational aesthetics, particularly in relation to operational images, and bring together specialists from fields of media, visual culture, photography, film and science and technology studies, including invited guests.
Workshop on Natalia Pavlova’s science/research project
International coproduction means collaboration between film producers or entities from at least two different countries who join forces and resources in order to create an audiovisual work even though they are located miles apart and speak different languages. The number of coproduced European films has been growing steadily in recent years. What can producers gain and what can they lose when coproducing films? The objective of the workshop is to explore and compare Czech film producers’ opportunities for coproducing films with those of selected international partners. The workshop is focused on the specific aspects of film coproduction – economic, cultural, artistic, legal and commercial. The workshop is also focused on the benefits and challenges of international development and on how this approach can lead to coproducing projects. Then we will speak about shared distribution strategies and on supporting such activities on the European level.
30 Sep – 2 Oct 2021
Photography in Asia 1839-1939 Symposium
The Photography in Asia 1839-1939 Symposium was divided into three sections based on the topics presented by the individual speakers. They focused on the emergence and evolution of photography collections from Asia and Eastern Europe, the influence that travel has had on photography collections, and the impact of technology transfer on the development of photography techniques in Asia, as well as on the themes and principles of photographic presentation in the Asian region in the19th century. In total, 21 speakers from 11 countries took part in the three-day event that involved 73 active participants and 128 online followers.
Symposium speakers: Filip Suchomel, Celio Barretto, Terry Bennett, Helena Čapková, Mirjam Dénes, Sebastian Dobson, Frank Feltens, Giulia Pra Floriani, Michéle Galdemar, Luke Gartlan, Yupin Chung, Burglind Jungmann, Oliver Moore, Rebeca Gómez Morilla, Xavier Ortells-Nicolau, Polina Rud, Freya Schwachenwald, Ekaterina B. Tomacheva, Stefano Turina, Bing Wang, Ayelet Zohar
30 October 2021
The “Woman, Mother, Film Director” research project was presented at a workshop for film professionals in the Industry section of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival on 31 October 2021. Based on in-depth interviews with active female documentary directors living in the Czech Republic, the challenges that they face during early parenthood and parental leave were defined and their individual strategies for reconciling the artist and maternal roles were described. International studies confirm that while the ratio of male and female film school graduates is approximately the same, there are significantly fewer films directed by women. Film directors and institution representatives discussed the possibilities of supporting the careers of female directors using various tools. Tereza Tara prepared the workshop, and initiated and moderated the panel discussion. The workshop was streamed online. Participants in the discussions included Tereza Tara (researcher, film director and producer), Vratislav Šlajer (Chairman of the Board, Audiovisual Producers’ Association), Andrea Slováková (Dean of FAMU), Martina Šantavá (Creative Producer, Czech Television), Julie Žáčková (producer and founder of Girls in Film), Andrea Culková (film director and producer), Martina Malinová (film director), and Marika Pecháčková (film director).
5 November 2021
FAMUTEORIE Student Science Conference
The Conference offered three sections of presentations delivered by students and graduates, as well as a special section named FAMUMASTERS that featured three teachers who graduated from FAMU’s doctoral programmes: Lucie Králová, Petr Koblovský and Ondřej Vavrečka. The jury included experts in audiovisual arts and related theoretical research: film historian, teacher and the editor-in-chief of Iluminace Lucie Česálková, audio artist and teacher Martin Ožvold, Curator of the National Film Archive Sylva Poláková, and film editor and teacher Libor Nemeškal. The conference included a discussion on the topic of doctoral studies in art schools. The panel included Milena Bartlová, art historian and the head of VŠUP’s Centre for Doctoral Studies; Helena Bendová, FAMU’s Vice-Dean for Science and Research; Jan Jiřík, Head of DAMU’s Department of Theory and Criticism and the former Head of AMU’s Centre for Doctoral Studies; Magda Stanová from AVU’s Department of Art Theory and History; and Libor Nemeškal from the Audiovisual Studio, Faculty of Multimedia Communication, University of Tomáš Baťa in Zlín.
19 November 2021
Cameraless or lensless photography employs a variety of techniques of producing photographic images without a camera (such as the photogram, the luminogram or the chemigram). Within most photographic histories, cameraless photography is limited to the discussion of avant-garde artists using these techniques to define or redefine the specificities of the photographic medium. Yet the practices of placing objects on light-sensitive paper or drawing on blackened glass plates can be also related to radiography, photocopying, and digital scanning – technologies that can be defined as post-lenticular. From sensor or laser scanners to screenshots, remote sensing, light detection methods and lensless imaging, the varieties of the cameraless approach gradually expand and the very concept of cameraless photography becomes a productive theoretical and methodological tool that helps to not only inquire into the contemporary automated visual systems but also to link them with the wider tradition of photographic and other technical images.
26 November 2021
Sheida Sheikhha, Petra Dominková: Narcissism and the Cinema of Xavier Dolan
Sheida Sheikhha presented the results of her student research during the workshop entitled Narcissism and the Cinema of Xavier Dolan. She discussed Xavier Dolan’s alleged narcissism and analysed how it manifests in his films. She found certain differences between the films where Dolan cast himself as an actor and those where he does not act. Still, both groups of films, based on Sheida’s findings, are in fact closer to actually portraying the leading characters than one might expect. Besides the theoretical background, Sheida presented a textual analysis of the films and supported her claims with multiple screenshots.
10 December 2021
Lenka Hámošová: Scrying through AI – Synthetic verbal collaging workshop
A participatory workshop experimenting with the synthetic verbal collaging method. OpenAI published a demonstration in January 2021 of DALL-E, a tool which generates (almost) photorealistic images based on a simple text caption. While text-to-image neural networks had existed before (e.g., the freely available AttnGAN model), in 2021 they experienced a major leap in terms of the quality and realism of the output they generate. Although DALL-E is not freely available, other open-source versions quickly emerged that achieved similar results and became a sensation among ‘creative AI’ enthusiasts. What can these generated images tell us about our world? Can generating an image from text be anything more than just an addictively entertaining cabaret? As it turns out, increasingly more generative AI tools are moving closer to interacting via text input, and the essence of working with AI is thus clearly shifting towards the need for mastering the ability of “prompt engineering” (creating efficient text input). While it may sound simple, creating the right text prompt is not exactly a trivial matter and must take into account many different factors. There is friction between visual and verbal representations, between human and algorithmic logic, and between our cultural references and the statistical representation of our visual culture by artificial intelligence. Can this constant translation between the verbal and the visual, between our language and computer code, between ourselves and artificial intelligence, teach us anything? In addition to an introduction to synthetic images and a chance to try out text-image synthesis to visualize concepts that are difficult to visualize, this workshop will include an experiment with the verbal collaging method. We will explore the extent to which artificial intelligence can influence our imagination and shape our thoughts and ideas, what the images thus created can tell us, and what meaningful applications this approach can bring to our own artistic work.
9 December 2021
Zaher Jraidini, Vladimír Smutný: Large Format Sensor and its Impact on Film Language
The workshop guided by Zaher Jraidini at Studio FAMU presented the results of student research. The workshop was open to all FAMU students and included the screening of test shots, a visual analysis and technical explanation of the test results.