KVIFF 2018: Tomáš Bojar's 'Breaking News' Doc is an Ode to Journalists
by Alex Billington
July 3, 2018
In a time where journalists are under attack and a free press is becoming more and more important all over the world, this documentary film is a wonderfully uplifting look at the integrity and diligence of journalists who work so hard every single day to report the news. Breaking News, also originally titled Mimořádná zpráva in Czech, is a new documentary from Czechia made by documentary filmmaker Tomáš Bojar. The footage takes us inside the offices of two news organizations in Prague - covering one major political event in 2017. It's a very simple, straightforward doc film that trains the cameras on the various people working to report the news and lets the viewers bask in their tenacity and commitment to objective reporting. It's utterly fascinating and inspiring, and the kind of vital film that we should be showing to younger audiences.
There's something very elegant to a documentary film that is presented as simply as this. Similar to the work of master documentarian Frederick Wiseman, Bojar presents this film without any additional framework or commentary. It's simply footage of various newsroom workers chatting and discussing and planning and preparing and working and reporting. And it's delightful and engrossing to watch, to get a quick small peek into their lives, to hear their conversations, to watch them debate over which headline is best, or how to get someone to provide them footage from inside, or what else they should do if this idea doesn't work out. This simplicity in the presentation allows us to extract much greater meaning in actually seeing them work. It's like a machine with many parts that work intricately together to bring us completely honest, accurate news.
Bojar's Breaking News is centered around one specific day in March of 2017, when the Czech president held a private event at the castle in Prague. Reporters were banned, and only private attendees were invited. At that event, he would announce whether or not he was planning to run for re-election, so Czech news realized they had to have someone on the inside providing live footage so they could report on whatever he said. It's invigorating to see how motivated these news teams are, and how they work every angle to make sure they can report on it immediately. It's a look at what goes on behind-the-scenes, and how they'll do anything to break the news, even if the authorities determine that journalists should not be there. It's just as intriguing to wonder how Bojar placed his cameras so they wouldn't distract them, yet could get such intimate footage.
It also goes without saying but I'll say it again anyway - I have so much respect for these news people who hustle and work their asses off all day, every day. So many people involved, so much going on, not only with getting the news itself, but presenting it perfectly to the millions of citizens who are interested. There have been a few other documentaries like this recently (e.g. Page One: Inside the New York Times) but this one impressed me in its purity, in its straightforward focus on the workers. There could, of course, have been all kinds of additional commentary on the importance of journalists and the importance of objective, but it's unnecessary for this doc. It's all in there anyway, in the conversations they're having, in being able to watch these dedicated people working so hard. It's an inspiration to see, and I'm glad documentaries like this exist.
Alex's Karlovy Vary 2018 Rating: 9 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing