Love in the Grave
Láska v hrobě
An account of the life and love of a homeless couple who live in a cemetery and their resilience in the face of social indifference.
- Director-Screenwriter David Vondráček
- Producer Tereza Krejčí, Krasimira Velitchkova
- Czech Republic 2011
- 79 mins
- Production company Yekot Film
Filmed over a number of years, David Vondráček’s powerful documentary records the lives of Jan and Jana, a homeless couple who find refuge in a cemetery in the Prague borough of Strašnice. Living on food from garbage containers and trading the books and porn magazines they find there, they nonetheless live lives of independence, love and humour. Jana, a former prostitute, tries to visit her daughter while Jan visits his aged mother after many years, but both fail to re-establish links with their past. Through identification with their everyday world, Vondráček reaches the human reality and complexity beneath the surface, a world not so different from that of the supposedly successful. Eventually, they are expelled from their temporary home with heartbreaking consequences. Vondráček’s award-winning documentary reveals the breadth of experience – even vibrancy – surviving in the world of the dispossessed.
Romeo and Juliet at the bottom. I was going to an old German cemetery in Prague for the last three years, where I have discovered, that living people live in graves. People with bad fortune, who have for various reasons lost everything. They found a new home, in the midst of the bussing city, behind the cemetery wall, where life works somewhat differently. In the process I have started to film the life of this specific community, which has created a fellowship of people, who would help each other and “enjoy their lives amongst the dead”. Between the graves, I would make friends with a 40-year-old hooker and a 50-year-old bricklayer called John, which have moved into a neo gothic crypt, and have attempted to find family happiness between the coffins. Step by step I came to realise, that my lovers, drawn more and more in alcohol and that their moments of happiness are overlaid by absolute destruction, to death. Before we have reached death however, we returned with Jane and John to their childhood, not only symbolically but by train. I wanted to find out, what has happened and why they are like this? Why do they refuse to accept medical or social help? Why do they live on the edge? Why do they not have a survival instinct? Why do they live amongst the dead?
Born in 1963 in Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia, he is a journalist, editor, screenwriter and director, who made his name within Czech TV with a series of film portraits between 2001 and 2008 – of Stanislav Drobný, Zdeněk Neubauer, Věra Bílá, Josef Masopust, Dana Němcová and Jan Sokol – and a spate of hard-hitting documentaries. Of the latter, Killing in the Czech Way, focusing on the forced deportation of Sudeten Germans from post-war Czechoslovakia, won for its director the Respekt prize for the best audiovisual work of 2010 and the Franz Werfel International Human Rights Prize. The feature documentary Love in the Grave was made for the independent production company Yekot Film.
2008 Zapadlý vlastenec [TV doc]; Do země (ne)zaslíbené [TV doc]
2010 Sbohem český koutku [TV doc]; Zabíjení po česku (Killing in the Czech Way) [TV doc]
2011 Řekni, kde ti mrtví jsou [TV doc]; Láska v hrobě (Love in the Grave) [doc]