Chicago International Film Festival: Into the Clouds We Gaze (MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735: Documentary Filmmaking Critical Viewing Assignment)

For my documentary film class, I also had to see a film at the Chicago International Film Festival.

MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735:  Documentary Filmmaking

Critical Viewing Assignment – Due:  October 27th


Part of the fun of being a filmmaker is that you’re expected to watch A LOT of films.  It’s no different in this class, as one of your assignments is to view a documentary film at the upcoming film festival.


The 50th Annual Chicago International Film Festival will be taking place in Chicago on October 9th through October 23rd.  There are several documentary films that will be shown throughout the course of the film festival.  Please check the Chicago International Film Festival’s website for film descriptions, showtimes, and the theatre’s location:  It is not unusual for a film’s director or cast member to take part in a Q&A sessions after the screening.  If this is the case with your film, your participation is highly recommended, as you can learn a lot about the filmmaking process from these industry professionals.


Your papers should be 3-7 pages long (double-spaced) and it should include the following things:

  • A summary of the film
  • Production elements (demographics, overall theme(s), shooting techniques, etc.)
  • Personal reflection on your experience at the film festival

I hope you enjoy the festival!


Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4735, 6735 / IFDI 5735:  Documentary Filmmaking

Critical Viewing Assignment

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:30 PM, I went to the Chicago International Film Festival at the AMC River East 21 theater to see the documentary film Into the Clouds We Gaze.  It follows a young man named Rada who lives in the northern Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.

Rada seems to have only one thing that he truly cares about in life: his car, a Ford Escort, and customizing it with stereos and lights.  Rada also goes to festivals where electronic dance music is played, and where people show off their cars at night while playing their music.

Rada also has practical things to care about.  He does not have stable employment throughout the documentary.  Near the beginning of the film, he gets a job at a factory.  He eventually changes to jobs to one at a farm, handling the heavy machinery there.

In the meantime, Rada spends time with his girlfriend who has a young daughter from a previous relationship.  She at one point expresses how she is afraid to tell her daughter the truth about her father who abandoned them when she became pregnant.

Rada eventually leaves her for another young woman that he cares more about and had stronger feelings for.

The film ends with Rada doing what he has done throughout the entire film: meandering about through his life not having any real direction.

The documentary was directed by Martin Dusek.  I watched an interview with Dusek, and he said that his goal was to document a young man who has no real purpose for his life that he has determined, and who is not particularly unique or interesting.

Thinking about this film, it is hard to understand the point, but the director’s words make it clear that the point is that there is no real point at all.

The film does not seem to have much of a real story arc, and while things happen, they did not seem to add anything to the film.  It was just a documentation of a young man who does things without much of a real purpose.

The production aspects were interesting.  The documentary is in a cinema verite style.  There is no narration.  There are no lower-thirds or “talking head” interviews.  The subjects are followed as they engage in their day to day lives.  They do not seem to acknowledge the camera.

The cinematography looked clean and clear.  There was a variety of camera angles such as close-up, long shots, medium shots, and anything one could think of.

This was only the second time I went to the Festival. (I had gone the previous day.)  I knew what to expect, and therefore, things were straight forward.

An interesting thing about the screening is that the director of the documentary attended the screening, and he introduced the film, which was great.

This concludes my paper.  While, I did not completely enjoy the film, and I considered it to have its share of flaws, I am more than willing to attend the CIFF again next year.



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