Media & Documentary 2015

October 28 – November 1, 2015


Lectures and Lecturers

Part I held in Czech

Part II held in English


BACK to basic information about seminar.


Reviews in daily newspapers and online media

The lecture’s objective is to introduce students to the basic (non-dogmatic) rules of writing for the electronic media. In view of the limitlessness of the internet and the unlimited range of formats, we will focus primarily on reviews in newspapers. We will look at the various approaches and their limitations by analyzing published texts written by several established authors.

Kamil Fila

Editor of the Cinepur bi-monthly since 2006. Graduated from Masaryk University’s School of Arts (department of film theory and history) in 2007. His graduate thesis on David Lynch was published in book form as part of Robert Fischer’s David Lynch: Temné stránky duše (Jota, 2006). Since 2008, he has been a contributing editor of the cultural section of Currently contributing to the Respekt weekly. He teaches/has taught at the University of Journalism, FAMU, Masaryk University, and the Faculty of Media Communications in Zlín. He was lecturer of the programmes introducing contemporary “film studies and criticism” to the public (Film Encounters, Audiovisual, Cinema Studies, Summer Film School, Visions of Light etc.).


Review in trade journals

As opposed to the limited space that reviewers in newspapers have at their disposal, trade journals offer writers much more space – although the length of the text places entirely different demands on the author in terms of attention to detail, level of sophistication, argumentation, an original point of view, rhetorical skills, and stylistic elegance. In addition, when writing about documentary film, the critic will have to answer specific questions such as the filmmaker’s personal style, the level of reality/fiction of what we see on the screen, the film’s ideological aspects, etc.

Helena Bendová

Helena currently works at the Centre of Audiovisual Studies at FAMU in Prague as an Assistant Professor (specializes in film analysis and criticism, French cinema, game studies, cognitive film theory, narratology). She also works as an editor and translator (books by Jeremy Orlebar, Jean-Luc Godard). Her previous work experience: editor-in-chief of the journal Cinepur, editor of the journal Iluminace, autor of texts for various journals and magazines.



The genre of the commentary in daily press ranks among the “royal disciplines”, combining analysis and opinion in a more or less literary guise. Oscillating between the literary and non-literary mode, the commentary suffers from a certain tension. In the Czech Republic, the literary aspect prevails over analysis; what is valued is opinion and style. However, an isolated opinion is of no interest. What makes a commentary valuable is rather argumentation and the approach to the commented subject. The commentary is essentially related to criticism. In his interpretation of Goethe’s Elective Affinities, Walter Benjamin says that criticism searches for the truth-value. Can there be a commentary without criticism? Can there be criticism without a commentary? How does one influence the other? Can that be helpful in our perception of documentary film?

Petr Fischer

Studied pedagogy and philosophy. From 1998, he has worked in the media, first as a commentator for Lidové noviny, later as a political analyst of the Czech BBC. For three years, he was the head of the cultural department at Czech Television. He regularly writes for the A2 cultural magazine. Together with Radim Procházka, he is the co-director of the documentary Desk-Based Assassination (2007). Currently contributing to the Hospodářské noviny daily and presenting the cultural talk show – Confrontations of Petr Fischer on Czech Television’s Art Channel.



The French word “essayer” means to try, to attempt – and this attempt should try to find a connection between the topic and the author in a way that the author is capable of and that is unique to him or her. These are the advantages and disadvantages of the way the genre of philosophy, literature, and journalism exists “above” and “outside” the topic. The quality of the final product depends on the author’s personality, intelligence, and education as well as on the idea that has to be conceived. An essay (in the European definition) is perhaps the most open, the freest of the genres presented here, however, it can also reflect the author’s limitations. We will try to look at all these issues within the limited time we have.

Vít Janeček

Graduate of the Charles University’s Faculty of Arts (department of film studies under Jiří Cieslar and Přemysl Maydl) and FAMU (department of documentary film under Karel Vachek and Jan Němec), documentary filmmaker, journalist, teacher at FAMU. In the 1990s, he was head of film programming at the ROXY Experimental Space and the Archa Theater, as well as curator of historical retrospectives for several installations of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. He has a long-standing interest in film theory, documentary film, and interdisciplinary relations between the arts and fields of cognition. He is a co-founder of FAMU’s Center for Audiovisual Studies, of which he has been an active member since 2012. Since June 2012 he is the head of the international section FAMU International and a coordinator of a FAMU educational project in Burma. In recent years, he has published sporadically in Cinepur, Iluminace, Literární noviny, and the Dok.revue insert (currently published in Respekt), where he edited the essays section. Currently, he occasionally publishes online with Referendum. His filmography can be found at



What is a blog, what are its origins and how did it become a mainstream medium? Besides dealing with the history of blogging, the lecture will also give practical advice on how to write in a readable, interesting, entertaining as well as original way to distinguish oneself from the masses of people publishing online today.

Several notes from people who have been blogging for almost 20 years in total.

Adam Zbiejczuk

Studied journalism at the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University, has been blogging on various sites since 2000, in 2007-2009 has been the first bank blogger in the Czech Republic (mBank). Worked as social media strategist in the agency (Ataxo Group), now co-owner of agency, organizer of social media meet-ups around website. A teacher at the Division of Information and Library Studies, Masaryk University in Brno. Likes connecting communities and trolling conspiracy maniacs.

Jiří Vaněk

Screenwriter, author, journalist and blogger. Wrote scripts for the series Comeback, Helena, PanMáma and Doktoři z počátků and for the documentary series Národní klenoty. Published an autobiographic novel Sebedrás in 2010 and translated Justin Halpern’s book Shit My Dad Says in 2011. Under the pseudonym Attila, Scourge of God, he co-authors the blog 1000 Things That Piss Me Off which received the Křišťálová lupa award. Collected feuilletons from the blog are also regularly published in book form. Has written or still writes for Filter, Instinkt and Marie Claire magazines.


Catalogue Annotation

Do you think it is easy to produce an annotation for a festival catalogue? Our lecture will introduce you to various approaches to writing catalogue annotations using examples from Jihlava IDFF and worldwide. You will learn about the most common mistakes made when composing an annotation, what information it should communicate and who is the target reader. On a more general level, we will try to determine what type of text we are dealing with and discuss the interesting issue of its authorship.

Tereza Hadravová

Tereza Hadravová has been an editor of annotations for Jihlava IDFF’s catalogue since 2014. She graduated from Philosophy and Aesthetics at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University. Since 2006, she has been contributing to the journal, Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics. She worked as a (guest) editor of film journals dok.revue, Iluminace and Cinepur.


How to analyse and write about the history of FAMU

Martin Franc is the head of the research team that has for the third year been working on an extensive research project of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, also mapping out the history of the Film and TV School – FAMU. As the research’s output, a historical monograph, The History of AMU, will be published as a comprehensive work setting the prominent cultural institution founded shortly after WW II in the context of the cultural and academic policies of the time; chapters dedicated to individual faculties will focus on the development of their institutional and personnel structure, the influence of the individual distinctive figures at the faculties in various periods, but also describing the atmosphere at the workplace in the specified era and the form of international contacts or the position of the faculties in the public discourse and the development in the financial support schemes. As the methodological framework, the historiographic approach is applied based on the examination of available archival and printed sources, complemented with the method of oral history, with several dozen interviews already conducted. The presentation will reveal how to analyse the history of such significant cultural institutions and how to write about them.

Martin Franc

Doc. PhDr. Martin Franc, Ph. D., a leading Czech expert in the cultural history of the Czech Republic of the 2nd half of the 20th century, head of the History Dept. of the Academy of Sciences, a member of the Oral History-Contemporary History Dept. at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University. He is a member of scientific associations and editorial boards. His long-term focus is on lifestyle, scientific and academic policies in 1948-89, and the history of eating and nourishment in the 18th – 20th century. He addresses these topics in articles published in specialised magazines. He is also the author of monographs Seaweed and Dumplings. Approaches of Nutrition Experts to Innovations and Traditions in the Czech Eating Habits in the 1950s and 1960s (2003), Ivan Málek and Science Policies in 1952–1989 or the Only Real Communist? (2010), Strike Team? A Visit of Czech Physicians and Natural Scientists in the USSR in 1950 in the Light of Letters Written by Ivan Málek (2009) and the co-author of the Guide to Cultural Events and the Lifestyle in the Czech Lands 1948–1967 I-II (co-authors Jiří Knapík et al., 2011), Leisure Time in Czech Lands in 1957–1967 (co-author Jiří Knapík, 2013), History of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (with Z. Havlas and J. Šoukal) and The History of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Pictures (2013, 2nd edition, English-Czech 2014, co-author Vlasta Mádlová).


What is the difference between writing about fiction and documentary films and where it can take you to?

Some of the best fi ction stories come out of real events, and some of the most interesting documentaries are partly staged, which does not mean they are not true. And then there are documentaries which are completely factual, but does that necessarily mean they are true? Writing about documentaries requires the same skills as writing about fi ction fi lms- and some additional ones too. Th e line between the two kinds of writing is as thin as the line between facts and fi ction, and it is usually the most interesting aspect of a film to explore.

Vladan Petković

Established in 2002, Cineuropa is the first European portal dedicated to cinema and audiovisual in 4 languages. With daily news, interviews, film reviews, data bases, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, Cineuropa promotes the European film industry throughout the world.
Vladan Petkovic is the Balkan correspondent for Cineuropa, and a freelance journalist, film critic, festival programmer and translator. He also covers territories of the former Yugoslavia for Screen International, and works as programmer or programme advisor for various European festivals.


Media space assigned to documentaries - what are the trends?

Documentary film productions are to be found in most journals and sites with a focus on cinema. What are the different kinds of film-related periodicals, and how do they differ in their approach to documentary film? What space is provided to documentaries in general? How do you lobby the documentary agenda into the media space? What would the strategy be for documentary filmmakers to get their films out there? What topics, styles and genres work the best? And how are documentary film festivals covered by the media, and from what perspectives?

Daniel Walber

Daniel Walber is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. He has written for Nonfics, Film School Rejects,,, and The Brooklyn Rail. He holds a BA in History from McGill University and an MA in Cinema Studies from New York University. His favorite documentaries include Paris Is Burning, Portrait of Jason, F for Fake and everything directed by Werner Herzog.