Connection of documentary and animation in project Gottland

It is the right time to introduce to you the Czech project Gottland. It is a documentary series of six episodes inspired by a book bestseller with the same name by Polish author Mariusz Szczygiel.  In its individual episodes, the film series presents different personalities of the Czech nation. Each episode was directed by a different FAMU director in order to guarantee stylistic diversity.

Anča is particularly interested in the episode about writer Eduard Kirchberger alias Karl Fabian directed by Slovak director Viera Čakányová, who decided to create it as an animated film: “Kirchberger is a writer and moreover, a deceased writer. I wanted to visualize his story freely (approach freedom offered by text), avoid the concreteness of reality, given by the descriptive character of technology in both feature and documentary films and make room for some inner imagination. I guess I also wanted to try something new, something I had no security in – that was the interesting bit.”

Spojenie dokumentu a animácie v projekte Gottland

The aim of the film is to answer who Eduard Kirchberger was. “As a writer, he left behind dozens of books – graphic impressions of himself (it can be assumed that his character and perhaps also hidden motivations for his behavior are encoded in his characters). His two daughters – representing his genetic, biological footprint, who recall their father in a private way, are still alive. On the other hand, there are records of administrative nature – mostly from STB archives that describe the breaking events in his life using austere and often bizarre language. These three planes form the story and each of them is treated in a different artistic manner”, the director explains.

Spojenie dokumentu a animácie v projekte Gottland

The animation of the writer’s literary imprint was made by Ové pictures – Michaela Čopíková and Veronika Obertová: “we built on old Czech comic books – we were inspired e.g. by the visuality of Foglar’s Rapid Arrows or the style and visuality of Run Wrake animation.” Kirchberger’s daughters were animated by Daniela Krajčová, who also dealt with the subject of father and daughter relationship in her own film Blue Red (2010): „My part of film features a Skype dialogue, in which the two daughters mention their father. I used the rotoscoping technique of redrawing the real video.” The parts that draw on the official records were animated by Martin Tomori: “The animation evokes old developed analogue photographs (the documentary approach to narrative, reminiscent of the State Security Service (StB) document files style is used). I work primarily with lighting and atmosphere, Prague is presented in the style of film noir. The emphasis is on atmosphere and drawing, not on movement.” Tomori’s minimization of movement and focus on atmosphere is recognizable also in his film Friday (2010).” Individual scenes are more like a dark cartoon slide-show of old photographs combined with the texts from the StB files”, reveals Martin Tomori.

Spojenie dokumentu a animácie v projekte Gottland

Documentary filmmaker Viera Čakányová had a clear idea about the visual form of the film: “Particularly with Ové and Tomori, the artistic solutions were discussed in great detail. We had endless consultations, I sent them video reference, we sought for suitable artistic expression, in order to find something they didn’t have to force themselves into and that would work in this type of film. Every shot is carefully constructed, corrected several times. For me it was a good experience. I am not an artist. Although I took some art classes as a child, I can‘t draw and it was rather inaccurate to articulate things verbally. Many times I thought that the verbal description could not be more exact, yet still some misunderstandings arose. Discussions about the kind of atmosphere, line, color and texture of the images were interesting… It is quite difficult to grasp such things verbally. As for cut, we searched for the right pace, exploring what is tolerable and what isn’t :). There was less to discuss with Daniela, due to the method of rotoscoping she used. After we agreed on basically keeping it a black line, she continued working alone. She had video footage as a base that was „just“ to be redrawn. 🙂 I have lots of respect for the endless hours she spent on it.”

The production of the episode about Eduard Kirchberger is approaching its final stage. The visual part is complete and the sound postproduction is taking place now.

The documentary series will be broadcasted in Czech Television, but also in the cinema distribution. The date of its television premiere has not been decided yet, but Gottland should reach cinemas in the spring of 2014.

More info about the project Gottland at:

Interview with the author of the book Gottland:


Eva Perďochová-Šošková