Twenty years on, Vachek tapped into his Elective Affinities (Spřízněni volbou) to capture the period before the first democratic elections of 1990 – a time of euphoria, uncertainty and bizarre events, when chaos gave rise to a new political order. Vachek’s film is also a reflection on the theme of utopia and its contradictions. Poet Ivan Jirous says in the film: “Liberty, equality, brotherhood. This motto is nonsense, since people aren’t born equal. God created everyone in a different way. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t all have the same rights.” The film begins with quotations from his collection Credo quia absurdum – “I believe because it is absurd”. Vachek is a quirky philosopher of the Hašek mould, relaying news of attempts to create a better and freer society, who was, however – according to utopian criteria – condemned to failure. But the uniqueness of the moment pointed to a new perspective on man and politics. This monumental film collage weaves together events, dialogues and action through a highly inventive feat of editing that succeeds in linking the seemingly incompatible. Shots of politicians, meetings, demonstrations and various activists, set in amongst official and trivial scenes, introduce and gloss each other. Alongside Havel, Dubček and some of Czech history’s neglected figures, the camera also focuses on left-wing philosopher Ivan Sviták, whose political prognoses were fulfilled with chilling accuracy years later. —Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Born in 1940. Studied direction at the Prague Film Academy (FAMU) under Elmar Klos. In 1963 he shot his thesis film, Moravian Hellas, in Strážnice, then-Czechoslovakia, about their traditional folk celebrations. The film’s unusual approach—blending humor and intellectual aggression—caused furor and indignation as well as admiration in official cultural and political circles. It took several years for it to be allowed to be screened publicly. As a director with the Krátký Film studio in Prague in 1968, Vachek shot the film Elective Affinities a legendary portrait of the protagonists of the Prague Spring during the presidential elections of that year.
He had to leave Krátký Film with the onset of the post-1968 “normalization” process, working in manual trades until emigrating with his family in 1979 to the USA via France. Due to his wife’s bad health, he eventually returned. In the 1980s he worked as a driver. After 1989 he returned to Krátký Film and, over time, completed an extensive… read more