“Czech Dream” is a very clever documentary that was an idea germinated by Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda, two enterprising student filmmakers. That this ‘experiment’ would go on to effect socio-political change across a post-communist Czech Republic is an astonishing achievement and a celebration of the individual’s inalienable rights to free speech.
“Czech Dream,” ironically, funded by the State under the pretext it would be just another student film, is actually considered the biggest ever consumer hoax in the history of the Czech Republic. The country, for the past decade, has been dealing with its share of capitalist economic freefall – and operating under the influence of a phenomenon referred to as ‘hypermarket mania.’ In this climate of hypermarket addiction, the two filmmakers devised a cunning advertising campaign for the launch of a new hypermarket called Czech Dream. They commissioned creative agencies to conceptualise and launch a massive media blitz of print, outdoor and online advertising all of which promised "low prices" and "surprises for everyone" on its launch day to consumers. There was one thing they didn’t reveal – there is no hypermarket. In fact over 2000 people showed up on the 'opening day' of this fictional superstore only to find themselves in a green field holding nothing but huge scaffolding. A cruel joke or a sharp provocation that strips away issues surrounding mass consumerism? A prank or an examination of the vice-like hold advertising has over public consciousness?
Despite the outrageousness of the concept, the beauty of “Czech Dream” is in the filmmakers’ serious approach, their unflinching attention to detail. The documentary shows us that their hypermarket’s advertising campaign is devised after thorough research; it was finally adjusted taking into consideration the results of statistical and scientific experiments carried by professionals agencies hired for this sole purpose. For this reason alone “Czech Dream” can be recommended to any student of business studies, marketing or applied arts. That it is a tour-de-force of originality, the zeitgeist of our times, should be reason enough for the rest of you.
Much like “Super Size Me” and “The Yes Men,” “Czech Dream” is a funny, provocative thought-piece that not only informs but also entertains. It deservedly earns its place among those rare documentaries that go beyond the conventions of art. Although it is quite obvious from the start that Vit and Filip were never consciously trying to analyse the politics of the Czech Republic, in the wake of their film’s controversy, the Czech Prime Minister was forced to publicly defend his government’s position on the impending affiliation to the EU. This is the most notable triumph for them, a happy accident that was of major significance to a nation.
- by Adnan Khan [Rated 4.5 out of 5]