Art Talent Show (2022)

Art Talent Show (2022)

Movie Details

Art Talent Show (2022)
Director: Adéla Komrzý, Tomáš Bojar
Cast: Kateřina Olivová, Darina Alster, Marek Meduna, Petr Dub, Vladimír Kokolia
Movie type: Documentary
Release date: 5 July 2022
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Languages: Czech
Duration: 1h 42m


Art Talent Show (2022)


We take the question “shit or blood” a bit with a grain of salt – the documentary Art Talent Show appeared in cinemas at the beginning of November, i.e. more than a month ago. Nevertheless, it would be a shame if the film failed, because it is not only among the best documentaries of the year, but even in the category of feature films, we will not find many more entertaining and stimulating spectacles. This is also underlined by the victory of the second Karlovy Vary competition section Proxima, in which the film premiered.

Behind the film is a pair of award-winning documentarians. Adéla Komrzý won the Czech Lion and the Critic’s Award for last year’s work Unit of Intensive Life, while the more experienced Tomáš Bojar, in addition to partial successes with FC Roma, Off Sides, and Breaking News, also has another of this year’s great titles, the attractive war memoir Good Old Czechs.

Originally, however, the Art Talent Show was supposed to look completely different. The management of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts approached Komrzy about filming a television documentary on the 220th anniversary of its foundation. The year was 2019. However, instead of a routine celebratory medallion, the author wanted to film the process of entrance exams, which required more crews. Together with Bojar, they finally filmed the so-called talent shows in January 2020, which resulted in approximately 200 hours of material. Fortunately, the resulting one-hundred-minute montage is far from a dry procedural about the functioning of universities, as it is an unexpectedly entertaining and overarching work.

For several admission days, we will find ourselves in a total of three studios. Graphic design is led by renowned professor Vladimír Kokolia with assistant Eva Červená, painting is handled by Marek Meduna and Petr Dub, and new media is handled by Kateřina Olivová and Darina Alster. The representatives of each of the studios represent a completely different approach to artistic creation and probably also to lifestyle: Meduna and Dub like to debate current trends in art, Kokolia grills applicants with questions about why they want to create and what is the philosophy of their creation, and finally Olivová and Alster represent liberal progressive currents based on the expression of individuality at any cost.

Above all, what is happening in the last-mentioned studio is sure to upset many guardians of traditional morality and staunch conservatives, after all, there have already been questions about the practicality and meaningfulness of such an approach within the framework of public (that is, paid for by our taxes!) education. Although the examiners ask what the art produced by the applicants will bring to the world, they usually do not get satisfactory answers and have to make do with platitudes like “I do what I feel”. Does this mean that the practice of art is just a manifestation of egoism without overlap, thus something socially completely unfavorable?

Komrzý and Bojar cleverly avoid giving unequivocal answers to the questions presented – as if they perhaps understand the elusive essence of art, which in principle can hardly be squeezed into ready-made boxes. Vladimír Kokolia said in an interview in connection with the film that what a taxpayer would call nonsense is methodically taught at AVU – but that is precisely the essence of art because the invoked sense is only what we know and what does not surprise us.

“If the cleaning lady came, she would clean it up,” representatives of the plastering workshop and other more “pragmatic” art branches comment with a smile on some art installations. There are a huge number of similarly humorous moments reminiscent of the criticism of superficial pseudo-art in Östlund’s Four in the film – although Komrzý and Bojar consistently observe rather than guide the viewer with music, editing or commentary, self-reflexivity is evident in their work. Several provocatively long shots of coffee filtering or the draining of water dirty with colors will force the viewer to think about the presence of artistic elements in our everyday lives and deepen the already unexpectedly stimulating picture.

Due to COVID-19, the filmmakers could not film the matriculation of the accepted applicants, so at the end of the film, we will not find out whose strange exhibitionism, in the end, impressed the teachers the most. But it’s a good thing because the film works better as a metaphor for the thinking of different social groups than as a concrete description of the process of talent in a limited time and space. Each day of rehearsals begins with shots of doormen, slightly horrified by what is probably happening on the upper floors of the building, and instead of debating the essence of art, they prefer to share recipes and the current discount offer of retail chains. Hedvika Hansalová’s imaginative editing thus helps to rhythm the narrative and maintain at least some order in all the unrestrained artistic chaos.

It is, of course, a question of whether such an entertaining depiction of a very specific sphere is not doing art a disservice, but given the still sovereignly red numbers at the ČSFD even after the festival hype has subsided, the film seems to reach mainly those who are willing to approach it openly. We could quite easily condemn the young, naive, and sometimes quite immature applicants, but if we approach them (and by extension the entire film) as an empathy trainer on a higher difficulty, we can still get a little insight into these souls from another world.

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