One of the most powerful documentaries ever made, Oratorio for Prague contains the only footage from the Soviet-led invasion of Prague in 1968. Czech New Wave filmmaker Jan Nemec (A Report on the Party and the Guests) began filming with the intention to document Prague Spring, a celebration of the newfound liberalization of Czechoslovakia, but the film's subject took a dramatic turn when Soviet tanks rolled through the streets. The invasion ended Prague Spring, leaving Nemec blacklisted and Oratorio for Prague banned. Even so, the film was able to have a profound impact. The raw footage represented the first proof that the Soviet Army had not been "invited" into Czechoslovakia and was used in international news reports, screened to a standing ovation in New York, and was sourced for Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and featured in Slavoj Zizek and Sophie Fiennes' The Pervert's Guide to Ideology.
In his work, German filmmaker and media theorist Harun Farocki rigorously explores how contemporary society interacts with audio-visual technology. The Appearance brilliantly combines two prominent themes from Farocki's earlier work, corporate culture (Indoctrination & The Interview) and advertising (Still Life). The Appearance gives the viewer a behind closed doors portrait of how brand identity is created. This unconventional documentary chronicles a high-profile marketing pitch from a Berlin advertising agency to a Danish optical company. The campaign, centered on the logo EYEDENTITY, is discussed in minute detail, from market research strategies to design principles and semantics. In The Appearance, Farocki skillfully probes the methods and tools used by large companies to sell products, ideas, and even a sense of self, and successfully adds another layer to the "clever" pun, EYEDENTITY. In German with English subtitles.
Water Is Wet is an astonishing film experiment which visually evokes water to connect children to their feelings, awaken their imaginations and spark their creativity. It was the first of four short films directed by documentary pioneer Gordon Weisenborn. The films were produced by the Erikson Institute for Early Childhood Education and today remain a landmark of instinctual filmmaking for young audiences. Now rediscovered, three of the four films are presented in new high-definition restorations: Sit Down, Where Does My Street Go? and Water Is Wet, together with the fourth, unrestored film, If I Were an Animal. Shot all around Chicago and using a mixture of folk songs, classroom activities, and staged vignettes, these films by Gordon Weisenborn capture a spirit of optimism that strives for a world where all children have equal opportunity. To help children see and experience new things in their immediate surroundings, the four episodes in the series were designed to stimulate imagination, curiosity, and active play.