Věra Chytilová made her professional film debut with this 1962 fictional documentary set in the women’s boarding house of a textile factory, and told through the eyes of new apprentice Eva Gálová. The soft-spoken Moravian gradually gets to know her flatmates. She forms the closest relationship with Jana, who has discipline problems, and eventually receives a one-month ultimatum from the works council to improve her conduct. As part of the film’s experimental narrative structure, Eva remains invisible to the viewer – she does not step before the camera, and does not communicate with the protagonists of the story; but she does comment on events via internal monologues (this “invisible” figure was dubbed by Helga Čočková). The original, socially relevant story utilises a subjective cinéma vérité style courtesy of lighting cameraman Jaromír Šofra, coupled with an edgy, unsentimental, modernist script from writer-director Chytilová. The film won the main prize at the 4th Days of Short Films festival at Karlovy Vary. It was shown in cinemas along with Strop (The Ceiling, 1962), Chytilová's Prague FAMU film academy graduation film; the films went under the joint title of U stropu je pytel blech (There’s a Bag of Fleas by the Ceiling).
A new trainee Eva joins the women's hostel at a textile factory. The quiet and withdrawn girl gradually meets other girls whom she is sharing the room with. Marie is the soul of the singing circle and often gets time off as a reward for her singing. The thoughtful Jana ponders over whether God exists or not. Líza wants to become a parachutist, Květa collects photographs of film actors, and Helena does nothing but stand and look at herself in the mirror. Eva grows closest to independent Jana. Jana organizes an expedition to pick up a parcel sent to Marie full of delicacies from her home, and she is punished by being denied time off. She is the most skilled of the girls and instructs Eva. After some time, she admits that she has a boyfriend. This explains her fits of anger and conflicts with the tutors. One time the girl is caught smoking a cigarette in her room and the workshop board debate her case. They give Jana a month to improve. Nobody expects her to really make any progress. Only their experienced master has faith in her; he is the only one in whom Jana confides her worries. Her boyfriend is going to military service in a week and she fears she may never see him again.
Na naší zahrádce rozkvetly růže, Za rok se vrátím, Louky lesy probudíme naší malou písničkou, Ramona
Eduardo di Capua (Za rok se vrátím)
Jiřina Fikejzová (Za rok se vrátím)
ženský hlas (Na naší zahrádce rozkvetly růže), dívčí sbor (Za rok se vrátím), mužský hlas (Za rok se vrátím), ženský hlas (Za rok se vrátím), ženský sbor (Louky lesy probudíme naší malou písničkou), mužský sbor (Ramona)
A Bag of Fleas
15 March 1963
Event: Umělecká soutěž k 20. výročí osvobození Československa
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Festival: 14. mezinárodní festival dokumentárních filmů Benátky
Benátky / Italy
Exhibition: 4. dny krátkého filmu Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary / Czechoslovakia