The Czech tradition of tramping re-creates the American West’s ideal of freedom by camping with friends in the middle of Central European forests. This film examines that slowly dying phenomenon, using a pseudo-documentary style to explore the true spirit of the movement.
This film mixes techniques of a straight-ahead documentary with more of a narrative film. What did you mean to convey by presenting the story in this way?
I didn’t want to present the topic of tramping as a historical fact; I didn’t want to use the simple description, because this classical style of documentary narration seemed to me quite passive — something that belongs to the past. That’s why I tried to present tramping as living stuff. The movie should enable you to personally experience the phenomenon of tramping.
How did you decide to make this film in the first place?
Tramping is a specific kind of living, specific kind of spending your free time in the nature. And it takes place only in the Czech Republic. Nobody before made a movie about it, but everybody here knows this kind of “country lifestyle.” So my motivation was quite clear. I wanted to show this specific relationship of Czech people to the countryside and woods, which seems to belong to everybody.
How is Czech tramping culture today?
The numbers of the tramping population are going down. Nowadays, not many people are spending time with friends by the fire in the wood. I hope that my movie will refresh it!
How do the people who live out there survive? Tramping is mostly weekend stuff. So you are working five days, and on Friday you change your dress, your name, identity, and go take the train to spend two days in the countryside. And it is very cheap.
Are they welcoming of strangers?
Tramping is based on friendship. It is not a movement. There is no structure; there are no restrictions. So everybody is welcomed. You should only be respectful to the countryside, to the nature.
Are there many tourists who tramp?
I don’t think so. Tourists are usually visiting Prague, our capital city. There is a lot of people in the countryside, hiking, biking etc., but mostly in the summer. So “hard-core” tramps love autumn and winter, as well, when the space is empty and the air is clear.
What do you hope viewers take away?
That there is another scale to the human being. That you can set yourself free of your common role in the society, sitting by the fire under the clear sky.