Wave vs Shore
Award-winning documentary Wave vs Shore is the directorial debut of celebrated Slovakian cinematographer Martin Štrba. The film explores the photographers of the Slovakian New Wave, a movement of which Štrba himself was a part, that emerged in Prague in the early 1980s.
The eight originators of the movement – Rudo Prekop, Martin Štrba, Vasil Stanko, Tono Stano, Kamil Varga, Miro Švolík, Peter Župník and the late Jano Pavlík – met in their youth whilst studying at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts, the only higher-education establishment in central Europe that taught photography, with their shared residency halls providing the perfect environment for the flourishing of their cooperative experiments. The style of photography associated with the group was characterised by a free and fluid approach to staging and a sense of irony and playfulness that broke with the dominant yoke of communist Czechoslovakia, subverting the values the youngsters had grown up with in Slovakia. When the walls of Eastern-Europe began to tumble down following the 1990s dissolution of the Soviet Union and its satellite communist states, the rest of the world was clamouring to discover what had been happening within their artistic worlds. The eclectic, non-conformist work of the New Wave photographers paved the way for successful careers around the world: Tono Stano has produced portraits of many famous Western figures, with most of them still working today.
Wave vs Shore is a sensitive, delicate and intimate look at the lives and art of the New Wave photographers and the bonds between them that helped forge their original style. Whilst positivity and optimism inform the group’s early work (although one observer in the film points out that much of their images seem to be about sadness) Wave vs Shore also explores the impact of Jano Pavlík’s tragic life. Dubbed by his peers as the next Andy Wharhol, Pavlík, like so many geniuses before him, was plagued by mental illness, with his short life and suicide leaving an indelible mark on the minds of those friends he left behind.
With a focus on a 2014 Czech exhibition showcasing work from the groups’ student years, Wave vs Shore affords its audience a glimpse of some truly breathtaking and relatively unknown work, most of which features the photographers themselves modelling for their friends, in existentially expressive, daringly erotic and innovative forms. The film itself is a thing of beauty, with Štrba utilising a highly idiosyncratic style, brimming with personality, resulting in a perfect tribute to the spirit of its subjects.
Wave vs Shore does not yet have a UK release date. It is part of the documentary competition at the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Wave Vs Shore here:
Proposed quotes: “sensitive, delicate and intimate”, “a thing of beauty”, “highly idiosyncratic… brimming with personality”