Dalibor Is Proud to Have Stepped Out of “the Neo-Nazi” Community, Says Vít Klusák

Interview

 

The White World According to Daliborek (2017) and its main protagonist – a “gentle neo-Nazi” have prompted a controversial reaction in the Czech Republic. Klusák came across Dalibor on the Internet.

Through his portrait the director wanted to expose the phenomenon of the Czech pseudo-Nazism, which he finds – just like everything else Czech – sort of alias. The issue at the heart of this media controversy was a debate on the authenticity of a non-actor in a documentary film. Dalibor has become an infamously famous film star.

 

 

We’re stylised even in ordinary social interactions. In front of the camera, social actors (Bill Nichols) play themselves. They’re in a role but represent who they are, they do not imitate. With films directed by Peter Kerekes (66 Seasons, Cooking History), Juraj Lehotský (Blind Loves) or Mária Rumanová (Hotel Sunrise), the high level of staging specific of the Slovak documentary films is something the domestic viewer will hardly see as a surprise anymore. In the Czech Republic, Daliborek brought about something new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MS: When shooting the film, did you employ the method of staging or reconstruction?

 

VK: I always object to the term staging and maintain that we used reconstruction. We tried to base the film on situations and moments exactly as we’d found them, staying as faithful to the reality as possible. Since we did have some aesthetic demands, the situations we experienced appear in the film in a stylized form. We did have to interfere at times. There were moments when Dalibor and the rest of his family stopped being themselves. They would either exaggerate or poke fun. So, understandably, the directorial corrective was present. It is necessary to note that I found Dalibor through his online videos, in which he stylizes himself and takes on various forms: he dresses up as an old lady or a soldier and jumps about childishly. I discovered Dalibor as an actor of his own life. In this respect I didn’t feel we were shifting from that significantly.

 

MS: Didn’t you find it ethically questionable?

 

VK: For Dalibor, playing himself and taking on different forms was intrinsic. Most of all he liked dressing up as a neo-Nazi because it helped him escape his “hang-ups”. That is why I object when people reproach the film and claim that The White World According to Daliborek is not an honest film about a neo-Nazi. It is a film about a person pretending to be one.

 

EK: So where do you think are the boundaries between acting and non-acting? Is Dalibor an actor or a non-actor?

 

VK: These boundaries are somewhat flexible. You are now playing journalists. When I met you a few minutes ago, you were sitting at a table with your friends as friends. Drinking beer that you’d in fact brought here yourself. Now you’ve whipped out your voice recorders, switched from the friends’ table to this journalists’ one, adjusting both your language and attitude. And since I know my words will be rewritten, I’m also speaking in a different way than if we’d spoken at that first table. The three of us are now playing at doing an interview… Dalibor is a non-actor changing identities more frequently than usual people because that’s how he escapes and restarts his identity.  He’s  using  it  to  face  the  moments  that  would  otherwise  make him  uncomfortable.  To  avoid  a  question,  he  will  turn  it  into  a  joke  or,  on  the  contrary,  play  the  tough  fascist.  He suddenly  turns  immature,  which  may  be  caused  by  the  fact  that  he  still  hasn’t  managed  to  break  free  from  his mother’s  influence.  

 

EK:  So  what  is  so  problematic  about  this  film?  What  made  it  so  provocative?  

 

VK:  I’ve  heard  an  interesting  thing.  It  is  said  that  by  promotion  of  any  kind  of  film  the  filmmakers  and  the audience  are  making  a  sort  of  an  agreement  that  should  be  fulfilled.  In  this  regard  we  allegedly  made  a  mistake  of suggesting  the  film,  subtitled  “Portrait  of  a  gentle neo-Nazi”,  is  a  study  of  the  Czech  neo-Nazism.  Somewhere  in  its PR  the  film  was  said  to  try  demythologize  the  Czech  neo-Nazism.  By  this  I  meant  we’re  trying  to  show  it’s  a  Czech pseudo-Nazism.  

It’s  neither  the  Russian  offshoot  where  people  are  really  dying  nor  the  German  one  that  really  sets  fire  to  refugee shelters.  It’s  that  Czech  sitting  in  front  of  the  TV  and  swearing.  I  really  think  that  the  Czech  “nazism”  is  –  with  an exception  of  cases  such  as  the  horrific  arson  attack  on  the  Roma  girl  Natálka,  which  are  fortunately  rare  –  just  like everything  Czech,  sort  of  alias.  That’s  what  brought  a  deluge  of  criticism.  In  some  respects,  Daliborek  can  be considered  a  very  unserious  film,  which  ultimately  leads  to  a  clash  between  the  seriousness  of  its  subject-matter and its  form.  Another  divergence  of  opinion  concerns  the  fact  that  the  film  is  presented  as  a  documentary,  although it was  shot  using  the  methods  of  reconstruction  and  stylization.  Some  people  find  these  clashes  irritating.  Today  I   bought  the  new  Cinepur  with  a  review  yet  again  confirming  that  The  White  World  According  to  Daliborek  and  its reviewers  don’t  seem  to  be  on  the  same  page.  This  particular  one  says  the  film  is  failing  on  many  levels  and  that  a “showman  is  shooting  a film about a  showman”.  

 

EK:  And  is  there  something  wrong  with  that?

 

VK:  I  don’t  know,  but  I  personally  don’t  think  I  shot  the  film  that  way.  

 

EK:  I  almost  cried  afterwards.  Watching  him  I  felt  sick.  

 

VK:  And  can  you  write  that  somewhere?  My  sound  director  was  just  mixing,  he  didn’t  see  any of the   material we shot.  He  told  me  he ’d been  laughing  the  whole  time  but  at  the  end  he’d  cried.  I’m  not  trying  to  say  things  like this prove  the  film  is  done  well,  but  Daliborek  certainly  isn’t  a  joke.  There’s  probably  something  deeper  going  on.  

 

EK:  Isn’t  this  turning  into  some highly  stylized  Prague  café  society  discussion?  What’s  the  opinion  of  the ordinary viewer?

 

VK:  I’ve  been  to  almost  20  discussions,  most  of  them  less  than  an  hour  long,  the  longest  one,  hosted  by  Kamil Fila,  lasted  four  hours.  The  audience  is  extremely  interested  in  the  characters,  their  backgrounds,  the  things  left unsaid.  Art  house  cinemas  in  Prague  often  say  Daliborek  is  a  bridge  between  their  social  bubble  and  the  small-town  way  of  life.    They’d  otherwise never  entertain the idea of being  interested  in  the  life  of  someone  like  Dalibor. They  wouldn’t  consider  that  these  people  are  living  their  authentic  fates,  have  frustrations.  It’s  like  cracking  open  a window  somewhere  they  otherwise  wouldn’t  look,  or  would  hold  the  people  living  in  such  environment  in  contempt. These  reflections  made  me  very  happy.  Well,  I  don’t  know,  maybe  we’d  gathered  too  much  of  that  bizarreness,  but that  household  really  was  like  that.  Were it an   open  form,  let’s  say  a  theatre  performance,  there  are  a  few  things  I would  change.  

 

MS:  Like  what?  

 

VK:  For  instance,  I’m  missing  a  scene  where  Dalibor’s  girlfriend  Jana  confides  in  him  and  tells him she’s  doing meth.   He  says  that  he,  as  a  neo-Nazi,  refuses  to  believe  that  and  that  if  she’s  saying  the  truth,  he  can’t  continue seeing  her.  It  would  really  add  to  the  roundness  of  her  character.  She  replies  she  didn’t  argue  with  him  last  time he  was  bashing  the  Jews.  “I  feel  more  chill,”  she  said.  That’s  her  way  of  escaping.  

 

MS:  Since  you’ve mentioned     the  theatre,  Daliborek  draws inspiration from    theatrical  methods  in  terms  of configuring the  shooting  location  or  scenoghraphy.  How  did  this  come  about?  

 

VK:  The  director  of  photography  Adam  Kruliš  and had  I  set  out  a  strict  –  stupidly  said  –  “nazi”  style  of  right angles,  where  verticals  are  vertical,  motion  linear,  where  there’s  no  diagonal  movement,  the  camera  is  panning  and framing  only  in  large  detail and  otherwise  they’re  all just  hard-and-fast  wholes.  This  is  what  we  tried  to  stick  to  no matter  what,  which  made  our  possibilities  in  the  tiny  claustrophobic   flat  clear.  I  believe  that  setting  limitations  is  a brilliant  tool.  This  also  led  us  to  rebuilding  the  stereotype  as  we  had  go  back  to  similar  shots.  The  “stage”  of Dalibor’s  room  stayed  more  or  less  the  same.  We  always  specified  where  the  characters  should  move,  which also helped  us  a  lot.  This  was,  however,  also  picked  up  from  their  reality.  For  example,  they  mostly  argued  in  the kitchen.  As  Dalibor’s  mother  didn’t  really  go  in  his  room,  he  always  went  to  the  kitchen  to  pick  a  quarrel.  That’s where  she’s  always  sitting  with  her  tablet,  constantly  illuminated  by  its  light  from  below.  Since  they’re  using  their smartphones  and  tablets all the time,  they’re  permanently  lit  by  that  neon upward emitted  glow.  These  were  some  of the  art  elements  we  noticed  after  spending  a bit of time  with  the  protagonists  in  their  authentic  environment.  We strengthened  them  slightly so that the   viewers would notice them    as  well,  even  if  unconsciously.  

 

EK:  How  are  the  protagonists  reflecting  that?  What  you’re  saying  sounds  like  some  kind  of  a Jungian  psychological method  of  trauma  reconstruction.  What  was  their  reaction  after  seeing  the  film?  Has  it  changed  them ?

 

VK:  It  is  true  that  the  relationship  between  Dalibor  and  his  mother  improved  significantly  in  the  course  of  our shooting.  It  may  be  due  to  the  fact  that  we’d  entered  their  family  circle,  they  all  confided  in  us  and  we  tried discussing  it  with  them,  providing  them  with  a  kind  of  our  reflection.  It  cannot  be  denied  that  after  sixteen  years of working  at  a  factory,  Dalibor  left  what  felt  like  a  concentration  camp,  as  he  used  to  say.  He  redid  his  room completely,  unfriended  all  his  facebook  neo-Nazi  buddies  and  now  is  reading  a  book  on  Buddhism.  Some  days  ago he  wrote  to  me  he  was  on  page  sixty.  I  do n’t know  whether  it’s  the  fear  of  legal  consequences  or  whether something  really  moved  in  him.  

 

EK:  He  didn’t  tell  you?  

 

VK:  He’s  too  proud  to  say  that  we’ve  opened  or  at  least  crack  opened  his  eyes,  but  he  does  feel  the  need  to  tell me  about  all  the  new  things  in  his  life  so  that  I  know  there’s  something  going  on,  I  think.  So  I  presume he’s proud of  those  changes  and  feels  the  decision  to  step  out  of  the  “neo-Nazi”  stereotype  we’d  found  him  in  was  a  good  one.  

 

MS:  That  was,  after  all,  one  of  the  catalysts  of  the  media  debate  on  whether  Dalibor  shouldn’t  be  sitting  in  jail.  If he  didn’t  claim  he  was  an  actor,  he  could really  be  locked  up.

 

VK:  Explaining  this  is  a  bit  problematic.  When  we  started  shooting  he  told  me  he  would  censor  his  statements because  he  can’t  speak  his  mind  when  it  comes  to  the  Holocaust,  the  immigrants  or  the  Roma  people.  I  tried  to explain  to  him  that  were  he  to  do  that,  the  film  would  lose  all  purpose.  If  he  was  going  to  filter  it  out  so  that  it could  be  aired  on  public  TV,  it  was  going  to  suck.  We  assigned  our  lawyers  a  task  to  come  up  with  how  Dalibor could  speak  his  mind  and  not  be  jugged.  The  key  was  an  actors  contract.  Later  discussions  on  the  Internet  used  it against  me.  Hoaxes  do  not  only  arise  out  of  malevolence  but  also  out  of  gross  carelessness.  Many  are  only interested  in  the  fact  that  Dalibor  had  an  actors  contract,  which  automatically  makes  him  an  actor.  They  refuse  to acknowledge  that  it  was  just  a  cover-up  to  protect  someone  claiming  true  allegiance  to  neo-Nazism  from  legal consequences.  This  might  be  the  first  time  I’ve  actually  managed  to  put  it  in  a  way  I  understand  himself.  

In  the media  however,  we  cast  some  doubts  upon  it.  The  deal  was  giving  Dalibor  an  actors  contract  provided  he doesn’t  tell  anyone  or  he’d  face  a  conventional  fine.  Of  course,  he  spilled  the  beans  right  after  the  premiere  in Karlovy  Vary.  Naturally  I  didn’t  want  any  of  his  money,  but  conventional  fine  is  a  very  well-enforceable  legal instrument.   

 

MS:  Was  there  any  conscious  or  rather  strategic  mystification  on  your  side  when  doing  the  film  campaign?  

 

VK:  In  the  presentation  of  the  film,  we  didn’t  resort  to  any  mystification,  on  the  contrary,  we  wanted  to  talk  about the  film  in  all  honesty.   Unlike  the  Slovak  documentary  context,  it  is  quite  unusual  in  the  Czech  Republic,  I  know, but  I  was  a  bit  upset  that  the  wiser  part  of  our  film  criticism scene  had reacted with a   negative  attitude  .  Foreign reviews  are  very  positive  and  don’t  doubt  the  method  we  used.  Even  the  affair  with  the  protagonist  of  Vladimir, who  was  said  to  be  actor,  is  fabricated.  Zuzana  Piussi,  who  claims  he  is  an  actor,  got  this  “first-hand  information” by  contacting  him  on  Facebook.  It  was  his  first  time  in  front  of  a  camera.  Because  of  the  wild  nineties  in Bratislava he  supposedly  spent  a  long  time  hiding  in  Italy.   

 

MS:  Was  your  surprise  entry  in  front  of  the  camera  at  the  end  of  the  film  a  planned  or  a  spontaneous  idea?  

 

VK:  Not  at  all.  The  review  I’ve  mentioned  says  it  was  perfectly  staged.  I  didn’t  wish  to  occur  anywhere  in  this film, that’s  why  I  also  shot  it  in a way completely  different  from my  previous  ones.  But  when  I  heard  Dalibor  ironizing Mrs  Liskova,  who  had  survived  Auschwitz  only  by  accident,  I  got  extremely  angry.  In  some  versions  the  scene wasn’t  included  in  the  film,  but  then  the  dramaturge  Lucia  Králová  said  it  was  another  important  layer  we  must put  there  because  it basically shows we’re  admitting  the  method  had  failed.  According  to  another  dramaturge,  Jan Gogola  jr.,  we  removed  the  responsibility  for  viewers  to  deal  with  the  testimony  of  Dalibor  themselves.  

I  think  the  real  life  of  this  film  will  start  only  after  its  television  premiere  sometime  in  the  spring.  Currently,  it’s somewhere  in  the documentary  ghetto,  seen  by  roughly  twenty  thousand  viewers  either  in  cinemas  or  via  the  VOD platform  DAfilms.cz.  My  ambition  was  to  make  this  film  speak  to  the  people  that  aren’t  regulars  at  the  festival  in Jihlava.  

 

EK:  To  conclude,  could  you  tell  us  your  definition  of  a  documentary  film?

 

VK: For  me,  a  documentary  film  should  make  the  invisible  visible.  The  problem  lies  in  the  ghetto-character  of  the Czech  society.  In  the  past,  its  mixing  used  to  be  a  big  plus.  You’d  have  a  pub  where  doctors,  workers,  judges  and priests would  sit  at  one  table  and  a  lady  with  primary  school  education  would wait  on  them  while  they’re  discussing whether  Václav  Havel  is  a  good  president.   In  the  US  or  UK,  where meeting people happens mostly   within a class , this  is  not  a  thing.  In  my  opinion  a  documentary  should  exceed  these  bubbles.  

 

 

Matej  Sotník,  Eva  Križková

 

 

Vít  Klusák  (1980)  is  a  Czech  documentary  filmmaker  living  in  Prague.  After  finishing  the  documentary  filmmaking programme  at  Prague’s  FAMU,  where  he  now  teaches,  he  partnered  with  Filip  Remunda  and  produced  their successful  mystification  debut  Czech  Dream  (Český  sen,  2004),  a  criticism  of  a  media  bubble  surrounding  the  Czech Republic’s  accession  to  the  EU.  The  creative  tandem  of  Klusák  and  Remuda  founded  a  production  company Hypermarket  Film  they’re  still  running  and  went  on  producing  films  such  as  Czech  Peace  (2010),  which  premiered at  Michael  Moore’s  festival  in  Traverse  City  or  The  Good  Driver  Smetana  (2013), which   Vít  Klusák  has  a  strong personal  relationship  with.  Some  of  Klusák’s  most  visible  recent  projects  include  his  Czech  Television  documentary series  called  Czech  Journal,  several  episodes  of  the  legendary  Kitchen  Nightmares  for  Prima  TV  or  a  documentary film  Matrix  AB  (2015)  portraying  the  oligarch  Babiš.  Right  now  it’s  The  White  World  According  to  Daliborek (2017).   

 

On Tuesday 14th November in kino Lumière were announced the winners of 19th Bratislava IFF. Festival continues in kino Mladost, MIER in Modre, Mier in Senec and Zahoran in Malacky. 

Interview

 

The White World According to Daliborek (2017) and its main protagonist – a “gentle neo-Nazi” have prompted a controversial reaction in the Czech Republic. Klusák came across Dalibor on the Internet.

 

We’re slowly nearing the end of the festival and Kinečko has some recommendations for today’s screenings. This time we’re leaving Bratislava and expanding to the nearby cities.

Even today we’re here to recommend where to go and what to see.

(Interview)

Zuzana Golianová asked Jean-Marc Barr 10 questions.

The core of Kinečko film magazine is here again to recommend a couple of films you can’t miss.

Even today, the core of Kinečko film magazine has joined forces to bring you a couple of hot tips and recommendations.

 

Due to technical problems during the previous screening of the film HOUSE WITHOUT ROOF (dir.Soleen Yusef), we added a special screening on Sunday, November 12 at 1pm in Kine Lumière K4.

 

Just like yesterday, the core of Kinečko film magazine has come together to bring you a couple of hot tips and recommendations for today.

 

The documentary film directed by Soňa Maletzová is a portrait of Marián Varga, a legend of the Czechoslovak music scene. As many suchlike films, this one too reflects a particularly difficult time in the life of the artist – a different, original, innovative, progressive and controversial musician. Some found his style, artistic and life alike, crazy, whereas others imitated and loved it.

 

This year the renowned Canadian director of experimental, documentary and fiction films Denis Côté comes with his new release A Skin So Soft, combining all these three types of film, although most of all, it can be labelled a documentary. The filmmaker follows a group of bodybuilders throughout their everyday lives, but focuses mainly on various activities related to weight training and working out, their mutual hobbies.