Release Date: June 15th, 2007 (IFC Center)
Directed by Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda.
In Czech with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about what happens when two film students launch an ad campaign in Prague to promote a supermarket that doesn’t exist.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Czech Dream is one of the most outrageously funny, smart and fascinating documentaries since The Yes Men. Think of this as Borat without toilet humor. Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda spend a government grant on advertising the grand opening of a supermarket called “Czech Dream”. Little does the public know that this supermarket is nothing more than a colorful façade designed to resemble the entrance in the middle of a field. It’s fascinating to watch how the filmmakers do everything in their power to dupe the public, which seems just like what the Dustin Hoffman character did in Wag the Dog when pretending that there’s a war with Albania, or, when Ed Harris’ character in The Truman Show controlled Truman’s fake world. In an outrageous scene, a shopping behavior specialist conducts some research by asking consumers all sorts of specific questions. The two film students, Klusák and Remunda, put on business suits to look like professional managers and use reverse psychology slogans like “Don’t buy” and “Don’t come here”. When they suggest that they tell the public that they will “leave with their hands full”, an employee at an advertising agency refuses to let the lie go that far with that false advertisement—even though Klusák and Remunda claim that the “customers” could pick some grass while they’re there, which would leave their hands full as promised. Because that you know from the start about the hoax, that makes it easy for you to laugh at the public’s gullibility. Thousands of people who traveled many miles arrive at the grand opening even though they were told not to come in the ads—and they don’t seem to be skeptical when they’re required to walk a long distance from the parking lot to the entrance. Everyone reacts differently when they finally reach the façade, which is just like Truman hitting that big wall of in fake world at the end of The Truman Show. What’s amazing, though, is that all of this actually happened with everything going just as planned. Very rarely does an outrageous idea have such remarkable and hilarious results.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Klusák and Remunda clearly want to make the message clear that politicians’ campaigns in the Czech Republic have empty promises just like in the advertising campaign for “Czech Dream”. The public, fueled by their greed in a capitalistic society, can be easily duped by false advertisements. Just like the Chris Cooper character said in Interstate 60, if only people would mean what they say and say what they mean, this world would be a much better place. Think about many other empty promises in American campaigns—i.e. McDonald’s “We want to see you smile” (honest translation= “We want your money”). Knowing what’s real and what’s fake takes common sense, but that does seem to be common any more given how many people are so easily conditioned nowadays.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Outrageously funny, compelling and insightful.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater.
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