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Interview with Filip Remunda

Czech Dream had its New York Premiere at the Fourth Tribeca Film Festival in 2005. This comic documentary, directed by Vit Klusák & Filip Remunda – at the time two Czech film students – begins a one-week engagement at the IFC Center on June 15, with Remunda in attendance at the 7:30 PM screening on opening day. We thought it only natural to catch-up with Remunda ourselves.

Tribeca: Can you talk about the life Czech Dream since it played at the Tribeca Film Festival two years ago?

Filip Remunda: Well it has been distributed in so many theatres globally. The topic of the film is really universal: it was made in the Czech Republic with Czech people and Czech companies, but it speaks to a very wide audience.  For example, Czech Dream is discussed more on a political level in the U.S. Some people told us that the way we created and promoted the Czech Dream and the effect it had on people was similar to the idea of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the way they were “created and promoted.”

I took a great lesson from making this film. I was witnessing people who were so manipulated by the media and advertising that when they were facing the front of the supermarket, which looked absolutely unrealistic, they still believed in it. They approached it from the opposite side and saw the construction; they could see that it was not a Megastore at all, but only a façade, And some of the people still trusted in this fixed idea in their brains produced by advertising that it must be the shop. It must be real. So they kept looking for the shop hundreds of miles away. Some people asked if it was underground. They still had the idea of the Czech dream in their minds and in their imaginations. And this idea was much stronger than reality. That was one of the strongest lessons from the project.

Tribeca: You obviously have this deep understanding of the importance of media literacy. Where do you, personally, get your news? What medium or information outlets do you trust?

Remunda: I have one practical example from just a couple of months ago. I am working on another film which follows two Americans who move to the Czech Republic in 1989, and they travel around the world, play music and they call themselves Creative Anarchists. Everywhere they go, they meet people from their “network.” They have no trust in the media so whenever they go to a new country, they call or email people to get practical information for their travels.

So a couple of months ago I was about to go to Jakarta, and I was not in touch with them. I saw on the news that there were big floods and two meters of water in Jakarta, and there were massive illnesses spreading because of the situation. I trusted the media, and I did not go. Then afterwards I met them in Japan and they told me how stupid I was. They said, “If you had contacted us, we would have told you that the situation was safe and that we had a concert there and that you could have easily traveled.” It was a reminder to me that it is crucially important to be aware of the manipulation of the media, and to search for other points of view.

Tribeca: When we can watch television news 24 hours/day, it is hard to know what the truth is. Where else do you think we can get the truth?

Remunda: I am searching for truth at universities. I am trying to read more analytical articles instead of just following the everyday news. I used to work in television, and I know that the real situation behind the images is hard to cover. It is a mess of mass media, and one should be really analytical and media-educated and media-literate in order not to not be manipulated…to have their own perspective.

Tribeca: There is a strong sense of humor in this movie, yet the message is incredibly serious. Have you always been able to use humor to reveal the truth – even as a child – or is that a point of view you’ve grown into?

Remunda: Always. It is also part of the Czech mentality, and maybe the mentality of many small nations. When you are influenced by all the big countries around you, the only way to survive that situation is through humor. Maybe. Sometimes in the U.S., people ask us why we like irony and why we are so cynical, and it’s difficult to explain. Sometimes when I say to my girlfriend, “I love you,” she says, “Are you serious or not?” But in the United States you hear it all the time. On the streets, “I love you honey.” And in phone calls, “I love you my dear.” It is part of your language. But our languages function differently.

Tribeca: Maybe we should only say, "I love you" when we really mean it.

Remunda: Yes. Exactly…Maybe.

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