Tomas Kudrna

Tomáš Kudrna
(* 1974) is a Czech director and cameraman of documentary films. He first studied in the cinematography faculty (1999) and later the film directing faculty (2001) of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. However, with the exception of classroom television productions based on A. P. Čechov’s Sboristka (1999) he shunned film production to focus on journalism and documentaries. In addition to cooperating on the science programs České hlavy (2006) and Port (2007) for ČT and reporting for the community based program Za zdí (2004) hosted by J. Lorencová, he mapped out the activity of the Vize 97 Foundation, for whom he also worked for a while (Reconstruction of the Church of St. Anna, 1999), and the post-presidential activity of Václav Havel (Pražská křižovatka, 2003). He became wider known for his disturbing films on domestic violence: To všechno z lásky (2004) which focuses on women – the victims of domestic violence and Jen se dívej (2005) which deals with the witnesses of domestic violence, in particular children. Both films take benefit from the strength of authentic testimony; they were made using the minimum of resources, which amplifies their effect. The work provoked a whole range of protests but was also awarded honorable recognition in the framework of TRILOBITA 2004. The extensive television portraits Sběrné surovosti (2000) about the film director Juraj Herz and Zblízka (2001) about the Anglicist and translator Martin Hilský were only a prelude to Kudrna’s greatest achievement in a global context, a film about the inventor of the contact lens Professor Otto Wichterle. He acquired the subject matter in the framework of mechanisms of the European television market as a co-production between ARTE France, ADR Production and the Czech Armada Film and ČT, which gives audiences an extraordinary snapshot not only of the personality of this brilliant inventor but also the dramatic story of his world famous patent. In doing so he even provoked reaction from the American investors who bought the patent from the former Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic and in contrast to the inventor became rich from the manufacture of contact lenses. He was not afraid to make use of pseudo-documentary stylization. The film Wichterle (2006) is one of the few Czech documentaries to be televised in over 35 different countries and in addition to the Czech TRILOBIT (2006) it also won the Gold Remi Award in Houston, USA (2006). This drove the author on to graduate from seminars for European filmmakers at the Discovery Campus Masterschool (2007) and to develop further projects. His film with the working name All that Glitters (2009) on the disputes between the inhabitants of a Kyrgyzstan village located close to a gold mine was the first Czech film to be supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund. In addition to these successes he is profiled in the Czech Republic as being a maker of strongly opinionated films which never fail to provoke a medial or social response. This is clearly the reason for his films První mezi rovnými (2007) about politicians’ “fringe benefits” and Vládneme, nerušit (2007) on the mechanism of political power infiltrated by secret agreements being so uncompromisingly titled. The second of these films was made in close cooperation with the journalist Erik Tabery and also won the Trilobit (2007) award.

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