A Bag of Fleas

A film by Věra Chytilová about the quest for freedom and authenticity in a girls’ boarding school. "During filming I essentially made no distinction between documentary and fiction; both are equally adventurous processes. I was irritated by stereotypes; I wanted to achieve authenticity of expression.”

Pytel blech
Czechoslovakia 1962
  • English
43 min.
  • This film is available until 31. 12. 2024 in these territories: Czechia, Slovakia.

New trainee Eva arrives at a boarding school attached to a textile factory and finds a close friend in the free-spirited Jana. The staff vainly try to make the latter conform to the social model, and the girl’s transgres­sions against the rigid structures of the socialist institution are investigated by the workshop board. "We are all actors if we have the opportunity to come out of ourselves. We don’t have to be precise in the way expected of professional actors, but we bring the truth of our lives into play. That’s why I provoked the girls and the staff at the boarding school to express themselves spontaneously; I wanted them to be themselves. The dialogue was improvised, I didn’t know what the characters were going to say – and that’s what makes the film ingenuous. What I always admired about non-actors is that they’re prepared to speak straight off, to share their views openly. These people had never performed in front of a camera, so the cameraman merely had to act promptly, using his sensitivity to capture the situations and fragments of what was unfolding in front of the lens,” says Chytilová, describing her creative process.

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Director: Věra Chytilová
Based on: Věra Chytilová, Pavel Juráček
Screenplay: Věra Chytilová
Cinematography: Jaromír Šofr
Sound: Gustav Houdek, Jan Kindermann, Benjamin Astrug
Editing: Marie Čulíková
Producer: Stanislav Koláček
Cast: Helga Čočková
  • This film is available until 31. 12. 2024 in these territories: Czechia, Slovakia.