KVIFF Review: 'The White World According to Daliborek' Doc is Daring
by Alex Billington
July 7, 2017
Meet Dalibor. He's an industrial painter from the Czech Republic, still living with his mom even though he's almost 40 years old. Dalibor is a neo-Nazi, who doesn't believe that concentration camps were used to kill anyone. He spends his free time drinking with a friend, playing video games, and making weird YouTube videos with cheesy voice distortion and cheap video filters. The White World According to Daliborek is a documentary that follows Dalibor (he's called Daliborek in the English title) as he shows us around his world. While at first it seems like no one is challenging him, slowly but surely he is confronted by the truth. I've never come across anything like this documentary before, it's utterly fascinating and impressively calm.
Directed by Czech filmmaker Vít Klusák, The White World According to Daliborek is shockingly incredible in so many ways. I don't know how Klusák convinced Dalibor to let him document his life, and let him use his own videos in the film. This is one of those docs where the filmmaker is not seen or involved in any way, there's no explanations or title cards or external observations. We just follow Dalibor and his mom around their apartment and their small town in the Czech Republic. His intention, I think, is to show that even neo-Nazis are actually regular people, who just so happen to have a distorted view of the world. But that doesn't mean they deserve to be attacked or ignored or thrown aside. They want to live their own happy lives, too.
What is most impressive is that the film is remarkably calm throughout. If you encountered a neo-Nazi like this guy in real life, would you be able to stay calm? I doubt it. But this film does exactly that - it lets Dalibor show us around, and talk about things, without stopping him or arguing with him. This approach eventually leads Dalibor right to where he needs to go - to a point where he starts to question his own views, and starts to wonder if what he believes isn't actually true. But this can't be achieved by someone telling him this, he has to figure it out on his own. That's ultimately what this is all about - how to confront people with these views. And the film documents that experience calmly, even though it only gets to that revelation at the end.
While I wish the doc was a bit more entertaining, there's only so much I can criticize considering the film has a much more poignant message regarding how to approach and confront different views in this world. Of course, everything about the neo-Nazi mindset is absurd and dangerous, but the film is really trying to subtly emphasize the idea that you have to attempt to connect with them on their level to eventually help them change their minds. It's not exactly easy to watch an entire film about a racist, neo-Nazi and that's the biggest problem with the doc, but it's about the journey and where it eventually leads that makes it all worth it. I have a great amount of respect for Vít Klusák making this film in such a coolheaded and peaceful way.
Alex's Karlovy Vary 2017 Rating: 8 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing
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