Jiří Trnka: A Long Lost Friend
Joël Farges | Czech Republic, France | 2019 | 80 min | CS | CS sub
Fifty years after the death of Jiří Trnka, French director Joël Farges explores his life and work. Farges first met Trnka – albeit indirectly – as a little boy when he saw his film Prince Bayaya. Charmed by Trnka’s work to this day, documentary filmmaker Farges sets out to “find his friend” in Prague. To depict his journey, he chose an unusual format of live-action documentary in which he himself is played by actor Réginald Huguenin, who is guided by knowledgeable Tereza Brdečková, daughter of Trnka’s long-time friend and collaborator Jiří Brdečka. One of the film’s story lines depicts the search for a copy of the film Bayaya but more important are the historical facts from Trnka’s life. We learn them thanks to the film’s narrator and the memories of Trnka’s colleagues and his family. The authors also dug out some previously unknown archive footage and photographs. So apart from exploring Trnka’s incredible work, the film puts together a picture of an artist who produced art against the backdrop of intricate and dark events of the 20th century. The film acts as an important means of “establishing contact” with one of the most distinctive and notable Czech artists who, as the film’s authors suggest, is being left out of the general European cultural awareness. It is also an informative excursion through Czech history.