Dušan Hanák b. 1938
Den radosti (Day of Joy, 1972)
Duration: 21 minutes
Dusan Hanak, in addition to his retrospective of feature films earlier in the festival, is represented by two shorts: the sugary Impresia (Impression, 1966), based on the music of Debussy and Impressionist paintings; and the pivotal film Den radosti (Day of Joy, 1972), a playful depiction of the festivities around the performance "If All Trains of the World" by Alexander Mlynarcik. Den radosti shows Hanak using the "inter-genre" style of documentary which made his feature film Obrazy stareho sveta (Pictures of the Old World, 1971) a masterpiece. Still photography, live action, interviews, old etchings and archive footage of old train journeys are skilfully blended to create a sympathetic and humorous portrait of the romance of an old steam train and the joy of artists and the general public in participating in this children's game for adults. Once again, the avant garde is imaginatively used to eulogise over traditional values and the past.
Den radosti is important not just for the considerable pleasure it brings; it is the first of a series of films in which artists use film to document "happenings." Lift (1974) by Vladimir Havrilla, a sculptor, shoots frames of people at the peak of successive jumps to create an almost conceptual work exploring levitation. Kvetoslav Hecko's Atd... (Etc..., 1987) takes us into the world of Matej Kren and tries to convince us just what a wild and wacky artist he is. The film itself is not particularly experimental, though, and since Kren has produced far stranger pieces than those shown here, it is a disappointing example of the genre.
Andrew J Horto
KINOEYE: Avant-garde Film and Video in Slovakia