The Normální Festival or Normal Festival features films about people with learning disabilities and films made BY the mentally handicapped, and this year’s edition – the fourth – has just got underway in Prague. Feature, animated and documentary films from the Czech Republic and abroad will be screened over the next four days at the city’s Aero and Evald cinemas. Normal Festival will also offer a number of music and theatre performances. At Wednesday night’s opening, I spoke to organiser Lenka Vochocová:
“The normal in the title is a word play in fact. We want to say that it is necessary to talk about normality in our culture, about the perception of normality, about what we consider normal and whether things we consider abnormal or special are in fact not more normal than something else.”
You are screening films about people with learning disabilities and films made by these people. What kind of filmmakers are they?
“These are people who are keen on making films and who want to try to do something on their own. We make short animations with them or we cooperate on bigger projects like music videos and so on. It’s usually a combination of animation and acting.
So how many films produced by your NGO are you screening this year?
“This year we are screening only two short pieces by Inventura because we have focused on a longer project, a music video, this year. But we also have on the programme some films made by people from our partner Osca Bright Film Festival and also some short pieces made by TV Glad, which is a Danish television focused on people with learning disabilities.”
What does it mean to your clients to see these videos being screened at the festival?
“I think they are quite proud, but what was more important was the work itself. They really enjoyed being part of the film crew and meeting people in public. This connection is the most important thing for us and of course showing these products of our activities to the wider public.”
How do the so-called normal people react? And who is actually your target audience?
“Our audience is the widest public. We usually say these are people without an obvious handicap compared to those we call ‘mentally handicapped’. We want them to make some inventory check of what they think about people with learning disabilities. We want to show them that these people are able to make creative things, that they can be inspiring individualities. This is our main goal.”
Are you successful? Have you made some progress over the past four years?
“I really like the moments when the audience comes and wants to talk to our authors. It is one of our main goals, connecting people with learning disabilities and without learning disabilities, especially with those who focus on professional artwork. These people are really getting together and start to cooperate. This is what we wanted and it is great.”
To find out more about the programme, see www.normalfest.cz
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