Good Old Czechs tells the mesmerising story of how two Czech RAF airmen – pilot František Fajtl and gunner Filip Jánský (real name Richard Husmann) – experienced the war. The film consists purely of period archive footage, including previously unseen material, combined with the narrated inner thoughts of the airmen.
The director of Good Old Czechs is award-winning documentarist Tomáš Bojar, winner of the Proxima competition at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
“František Fajtl and Filip Jánský were two brave Czechoslovak airmen, the former a pilot, the latter a gunner in a bomber. Although they did not know each other during the war, they both served first on the western front, and later on the eastern front. Despite being very different personalities, both were members of that rare breed that always did what the situation demanded of them without much fuss, even if it meant putting themselves in danger. And importantly for this film, both were extremely sensitive observers of the world around them. They were interested in things both big and small, noble and mundane,” says director Tomáš Bojar.
“In the film, these two ‘documentarians’ gradually take us across war-torn Europe, from Czechoslovakia to Germany, Poland, France, Great Britain, as well as the Orient, the Soviet Union and then back home again, first to Slovakia,” Bojar adds. “They were humble, unpretentious, selfless, and at the same time very funny – in short, they really were ‘Good Old Czechs’.”
Bojar has sensitively transformed fragments from the airmen’s rich post-war literary work and, together with editor Šimon Špidla, connected them in an original, poetic way with archive footage and music specially composed for the film by Slovak musician Stroon.
“Our goal was to create the world our heroes speak of through all the film tools at our disposal as well as viewers’ imagination,” explains editor Šimon Špidla.
The daughter of General Františka Fajtl, Jitka Režná, commented on the film: “I was very impressed by the film’s originality and freshness. The war is not portrayed in the usual dull way with old gentlemen commenting on archive footage. At the same time, the choice of non-actors as narrators helps to ensure that the film is not overly emotional or heroic. The poetic approach of the direction highlights the fact that they were writers as well as fighters. I find it very human and genuine.”
The trailer for Good Old Czechs can be viewed at the following links:
The film was produced by NOW Productions, in co-production with Czech Television, Radio and Television Slovakia, Artichoke and KM Plus Media, with the support of the Czech Film Fund and the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, as well as support from private partners.
The distributor of the film in the Czech Republic is PILOT FILM.
The film was created under the auspices of the following institutions:
the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic, the British Embassy in Prague, the British Embassy in Bratislava.
ABS Jets, Aero Vodochody, BAE, Bell Flight, Best Communications, Chapman Taylor, Dunlop Family, Flow East Foundation, Interlink CS, LOM Praha s.p., London Market, Omnipol, Portland Trust, Promedica Praha Group, Saab