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Kulturstiftung des Bundes

© Breathless

Breathless. A German-Czech Documentary Film Project

The world’s longest music piece, time loops in the hinterland of the Czech Republic, post-industrial deceleration in America, boredom as a lifestyle and an attempt to breakout of hectic city life – all this comes together in the German-Czech documentary film project “Breathless”. Five exceptional films about time and the acceleration of our everyday lives are the result of a call for applicants issued by Zipp, the DOK Leipzig and the Prague Institute of Documentary Film (IDF).

The initiative set out to develop and produce creative documentary film ideas bearing a distinctive authorial signature which explore a theme that is both socially as well as culturally relevant and the subject of controversial debate. “Breathless” served as a platform enabling an exploration of the artistic documentary film and promoting exchange between filmmakers and their concrete work. Artistically discerning documentary films find it difficult to assert themselves in the current commercial television landscape. The film project set out to demonstrate to a broad public that that at this genre is very much alive and multifaceted in both countries.

Together with the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (DOK Leipzig) and the Prague Institute of Documentary Film (IDF), Zipp invited filmmakers to submit their innovative and artistic ideas. International in its reach and overseen by a five-member selection commission, the call for applicants attracted over 130 project ideas exploring the themes of “time” and “acceleration” in a variety of ways, visually-artistically, ironically-humorously as well as philosophically and experimentally.

Besides the development and production of artistically demanding documentary films, “Breathless” was also a unique project in terms of both the exchange initiated between experts and artists as well as close cooperation between filmmakers from Germany and the Czech Republic: the concrete work on the film projects, the professionalization generated by international cooperation, the advanced training in two intensive workshops, the guidance and advice provided by internationally experienced film experts and the promotion afforded by international co productions were all aspects which served to set up a creative and economic network between the selected participants, the involved producers, the experts and the initiators of “Breathless”.

At two workshops held as part of the project internationally renowned experts on documentary film mentored and trained the filmmakers from both countries. For the 18 months of the research, production and post-production process mentors accompanied the filmmakers, offering expert advice on the individual projects. The team of mentors ranged from experienced directors, producers and cameramen through to distributors. The first three-day workshop on storyline development, dramaturgy and research took place in July 2008 in Slaný/Czech Republic. Although the horizons of experience amongst the filmmakers varied, all of them found the collaborative work and exchange on subject matter and artistic approach to be extremely rewarding, resulting in a very lively and fruitful dialogue. Lasting four days, the second workshop was held in June 2009 in Písek/Czech Republic and took place during the production and post-production phases; as such it focused on issues related to post-production, editing and distribution strategies. The filmmakers were able to present rough-cut versions of their work to international experts and colleagues, initiating a discussion on structure and editing. Experienced editors from Germany, the Czech Republic and Denmark were invited to take part.

Dealing with a rich spectrum from the restlessness of daily routine through to the total deceleration of life, the five “Breathless” films celebrated their premiere on 29 October 2009 at the DOK Leipzig, while the Czech premiere was a day later at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. A successful cinema run of the omnibus film “Breathless – Dominance of the Moment” was launched on 30 December 2009.

A cooperation between Zipp – German-Czech Cultural Projects; Institute for Documentary Film - IDF, Prague; International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. Partner: International Documentary Film Festival Jihlava.

Producers: endorfilm, Prague; Kloos & Co. Medien, Berlin
Mentors: Miroslav Janek, Peter Badel, Niels Pagh Andersen, Stephan Krumbiegel, Catherine Rascon, Susanne Helke, Clare Paterson
Participating broadcasters: Arte, Česká televize, MDR, WDR, ZDF
German film distribution: RealFiction Filmverleih
With the friendly support of: Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republick, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH, State Fund of the Czech Republic for Support and Development of Czech Cinematography, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein: Filmwerkstatt Kiel, Hypermarket Film

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