Archive of films Old Believers / Starověrci

Czech Republic
2001, 46 min

Section: Czech Films
Year: 2002

A documentary essay filmed over a period of several years which seeks the spiritual roots in the everyday life of the descendants of Russian emigrants living in a Romanian village in the Danubian basin. These villagers have managed to preserve their own culture, transforming their daily grind into a symbolic deliberation on the transience of time.


A documentary which was filmed over a period of five years describing the spiritual roots of the inhabitants of a forsaken Romanian village in the Danubian basin. As descendants of Russian emigrants of a minority faith who settled in the area during the 17th century, they were able to preserve not only their original beliefs but also their language. Despite various changes in the villagers’ lives, time seems to have frozen the “natural” inflections of birth, marriage and death. The protagonists are bound by their strict religious faith, both imprisoned and exalted by the cyclical rhythm of religious festivals and daily rituals. These are, at the same time, a natural part of life in the village and give an inner sense to the most ordinary of tasks. Jaromír Kačer’s black-and-white camera creates a smooth composition highlighting the primeval spiritual gestures which transform the inhabitants’ daily grind into a symbolic deliberation on the transience of time.

About the director

Jana Ševčíková (b. 1953, Prague) graduated in documentary milmmaking from Prague´s Film Academy (FAMU) with the ethnographic essay Piemule (1984) which studies the descendants of Czech emigrants living in Romania. After graduating she started a documentary on young apprentices which she left unfinished. She produced her own short documentary Jakub, 1992. In 1991 she was awarded grants from the Ministry of Culture for a film about Min Tanaka and for the post-production of two of her films. These were a success at a number of international festivals: Piemule was awarded in Gyor in Hungary and Tirgu Mures in Romania (both 1994). Jakub won the Prix de Jury des Universités and the Prix de la Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles d’Alsace at the Strasbourg IFF, plus the Filmkaja Award for Best Documentary at the IFF in Uppsala, Sweden.

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Czech Films
Director: Jana Ševčíková
Screenplay: Jana Ševčíková
Dir. of Photography: Jaromír Kačer
Music: Alan Vitouš
Editor: Lucie Haladová
Producer: Jana Ševčíková
Production: Jana Ševčíková

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