Photographer Libuše Jarcovjáková – no stranger to Prague nightlife in the 1970s and 1980s, as the upcoming documentary “I Am Not All I Want To Be” shows – has already earned comparisons with a certain American icon.

“Libuše had this big exposure in France in 2019 and on the radio they said, ‘She’s like Nan Goldin from Czechoslovakia,'” says producer Lukáš Kokeš. Klára Tasovská conducts.

Recently, Goldin was the subject of “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” by Oscar-nominated Laura Poitras.

“The very first time we presented this project, our tutor, Maya Daisy Hawke, editor of ‘Navalny’, said, ‘It’s funny. My husband [Joe Bini] is editing a Goldin movie next door,” Kokeš laughs.

“To be authentic, Goldin would go live with sex workers or drug addicts. Libuše did the same. His most unique set of photographs comes from this LGBTQ+ club in Prague. It was then that she discovered sex with women.

“In an unfree regime, she sought islands of freedom: gay clubs, night shifts in factories, pubs, Vietnamese inns. Places where people, in his view, lived without inhibitions. She wanted to belong to them and feel alive,” adds Tasovská.

“I’m not everything I want to be”
Courtesy of Somatic Films

“The intimacy of these photographs comes from the fact that she photographed what she experienced. Parties, sexual exploration, doubts and depression.

Jarcovjáková’s unconventional take on communist Czechoslovakia, as well as Tasovská’s commitment to composing the film entirely from his stills, impressed the Karlovy Vary jury, resulting in the project receiving the Development Award from Works in Progress post-production.

Somatic Films (Czech Republic), Nutprodukcia (Slovakia) and Mischief Films (Austria) are producing.

“There are no talking heads here, no experts,” says Kokeš.

“Klára has had access to all the photos Libuše has taken and journals she has written since she was 17. You can really look through her eyes and be inside her head.”

“We almost forget that we are looking at still photographs,” she adds.

“Still, I had no idea how difficult this whole process would be. Making a movie from photos is just as complex and time-consuming as making an animation.

Now 70, Jarkovjáková entrusted the director with “total freedom”, says Tasovská, allowing her to deliver a “highly universal and contemporary story of female emancipation”.

“Libuše refused to have children, to adapt to social norms. She has lived with a partner for 30 years. It’s about finding your identity and finding your freedom, but also about living according to your own ideas,” notes Kokeš.

“I’m not everything I want to be”
Courtesy of Somatic Films

“This conscious decision of a woman not to be a mother, not to want children, often arouses particular astonishment. Even in a liberal society. But where does this very notion come from? Libuše speaks openly about these issues,” adds Tasovská.

Emphasizing that nothing was out of place during the making of the film, including mentions of Jarcovjáková’s abortions, one of which almost cost him his life.

“These are universal themes that are still relevant today. Especially when you look at the tendencies to encroach on women’s rights in Poland or the United States.

It’s one of the reasons why, despite its period setting, the team believes in the relatability and timeliness of their film.

“Libuse is a role model. Not just for me, but potentially for everyone,” says Tasovská.

“She is 71 now and yet she has still not been properly discovered. This is not unusual, as the history of photography has been dominated by men,” Kokeš explains.

“We’re talking about a local photographer, but we’re also asking questions everyone can relate to: How can you break through as a female artist in a male-dominated field? How do you accept your “otherness”? How do you develop a good relationship with your body, even if by some “standards” it is not considered classically beautiful? »

He adds: “It was obvious to us that instead of being a boring documentary, this film had to have a timeless touch. After all, Libuše started taking selfies long before it was cool.