Czech Dream (12A)

Written and Directed by Vit Klusák and Filip Remunda
Screening at FACT from 5th-8th September 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

You know that kind of advertising that just creeps up on you? Perhaps for a week or so there will be half second ‘blipverts’ on TV. Then comes the ambiguous roadside adverts that get tongues wagging. Then there’s the longer commercials, and brochures come through your door. There’s a new hypermarket opening on the 31st with great offers. Are you going? Well all that actually happened in the Czech Republic, yet when several thousand people turned up they were disappointed to find that behind the stores façade there was only - of all unspeakable things – a field.
Yes, the whole project was dreamed-up by young film students Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda. Why? Well… why not?

Using a large government grant to fund their subversive experiment, the political pranksters asked famous marketing experts to help construct a brand identity for the fictitious store. This starts on a personal level, as the faintly grungey duo get the Hugo Boss makeover apparently necessary to look like managerial types. Then it’s on to the focus groups, the brushing of oranges to make them look juicier, and the composing of a corporate anthem to be sung by a children’s choir.

For their part, the advertising gurus are more than happy to go along for the ride in return for the free publicity. “Our adverts work if the product sucks or doesn’t exist at all”, claims one. Making thousands of people do things is “pretty cool” announces another. There’s one hilarious exchange about what exactly constitutes lying – something which is apparently beyond the Pale for these high-minded individuals. Brushing those oranges is ok, but saying that customers will take some ‘thing’ away is not. When it’s pointed out that the whole thing is made up that the conversation descends into chaos.

If you think that sounds scary, you haven’t heard anything yet. Two twentysomethings reveal that their ‘dream’ is to “make more money”, while a granddad confesses that he associates shopping with a feeling of “amore”. But perhaps the most frightening segment is where we see a woman wearing a device that records her eye movements as she scans some publicity literature. George Orwell is kicking himself in his grave.

Of course, the climax of the film is the big day itself, where we get to watch people’s reactions to the horror of seeing a meadow instead of sickly fluorescent lights and row upon row of boxes. Many felt humiliated, and angrily confronted the slightly smug filmmakers. Some went into philosophical mode, and others even decided to have a family picnic! One lady drew parallels with how politicians manipulate the media: “Our politicians make fools out of ten million. And they do it every day”.

Yes, it’s all very sneaky and exploitative, but then that is the chimerical ‘reality’ of advertising. Klusák and Remunda merely chose quite a bold way of pointing that out.

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