CZECH REPUBLIC / 2009 / Czech / Color / Video / 90 min
Director: Martin Mareček
Photography: Vít Klusák, Jiří Málek, Martin Mareček
Editing: Martin Mareček, Jana Vlčková
Sound: Michal Gábor, Ondřej Ježek
Music: Martin Mareček, Tereza Marečková, Ondřej Anděra
Producer: Vratislav Šlajer
Production Company, World Sales: Bionaut Films
“AUTO*MATE”: a cultural/social movement advocating reduced use of cars, to bring more health and vitality to the city of Prague.?The camera was present during six years of developments, including the give and take with politicians, the mobilization of groups to cycle through the city, discussions, exhibitions, and debates. Will the first “Car-Free Day” be a success? A cinematic essay overflowing with humor and a spirit of fun.
[Director’s Statement] I lived in downtown Prague, in the “heart of Europe.” In Prague, “the mother of cities,” as well as “the city of cars”. . . according to statistics, one of the most handicapped cities in Europe. Six years ago, I met my neighbor in the hallway. He was moving: “Well, we’re off, we can’t take this anymore.” I replied: “Yeah, I understand, it’s the cars, isn’t it? That noise, that smell . . .” The neighbor smiled, puzzled: “Not really, it’s more that there’s nowhere to park.” Is this story absurd? Was that neighbor out of touch with reality? No. I think that most of us city folk are this automatic. We’re all in it . . . Automatically we swear, automatically we drive. Slowly but surely, our game ends with our own auto-mate. Can anything be done about this? I realized that to make a film is not enough. It will only turn into another short essay, automatically saying the well-known, addressing the usual audience. Another submission to the Intellectual Aquarium. Therefore, I’d slowly turn from a film director into a civilian activist, an artistic radical, a political lobbyist. A multi-layered organism AUTO*MATE was conceived.
Born in Prague in 1974, Martin Mareček graduated with a degree in documentary filmmaking from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague, where he now teaches. Since 1992 he has worked on varied audiovisual projects, serving as director, cameraman, actor, and musician. He has also participated in the organization of a number of cultural-socio-ecological activities. Mareček’s short film Javor 98 (1998) won the Kodak Vision Award for creative and visual contribution at FAMU Fest. He codirected, with Vít Janecek, Stage Sweep (1999) for the TV miniseries “Up Close.” His Egg Methods won a special jury prize at FAMU Fest 1999. The feature-length documentary Dust Games (2001) won the prize for best Czech documentary at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, and he also directed My home . . . (2003). His film Source (2005), on Azerbaijan’s oil industry, won some twenty awards at international film festivals.