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PICTURES OF THE OLD WORLD

Czechoslovakia, 1972 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Dusan Hanak

This 1972 documentary was suppressed for 16 years by the censors in Slovakia because it dares to suggest that Czechoslovak society is imperfect, especially for old folks living in poverty in mountain villages.

Despite their hardships and poor diets, these toothless men, formetly farmers and shepherds, uncomplainingly try to keep up appearances. Replying to questions from the unseen filmmaker, they thoughtfully search for life's meanings and settle on love, family, health, and working close to nature. Because each of these brave old men lives alone, foresaken by society (within a proletarian paradise supposedly dedicated to social services for its honourable senior citizens) the film is ironic and deeply sad.

This sensitive, poetic film concerns human dignity and worth among les miscrafcles — their faith, nonpol ideal patriotism and simple wisdom. Hanak went after the essentials of our humanity, and got them. - Variety

On its premiere at the Nyon International Film Festival in October 1988, director Dusan Hanak announced that it was the praise of Soviet critics (who had seen the film privately) that helped to obtain the film's release. Its Nyon screening was the first time Hanak had seen the film with an audience. Fittingly, the film went on to win the festival's Grand Prix plus two other awards.

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