With films that reflect on life in contemporary Eastern Europe, Czech filmmaker Jana Sevcikova has distinguished herself as a practitioner of poetic documentary. A graduate of the Prague Film Academy, her thesis film, Piemule (1984), offers a frank examination of Czech émigrés in Romania during the final years of Ceausecu's totaltitarian regime. She has produced films independently, such as Jakub (1992), and received state funding from the Czech Ministry of Culture. Her films have been shown at festivals in Berlin, Strasbourg, Karlovy Vary and Cracow. Praised throughout Europe, Sevcikova's intimately crafted works challenge the distanced conventions of ethnographic filmmaking.
This portrait of Jakub Popovich provides an intriguing entry into the lives of the Ruthenians, a community based in Northern Romania and Western Bohemia which survived amidst fifty years of political upheaval and revolution. Sevcikova began filming two years before the ouster of Ceausescu in 1989 further emphasizing the plight of this marginalized community.
Filmed over a period of five years, Old Believers examines a religious community situated in the Danube Delta. The residents have preserved the archaic language and traditions of their elders who emigrated from Russia in the 17th century. A testament to faith and commitment, Sevcikova renders their lives with vivid intimacy.