At the two ends of an oil pipeline, two movies, two plays, two stories. In Baku, Azerbaijan, and in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Source (Zdroj) – 2005

A driver stops at a gas station, inserts the nozzle into the tank of his vehicle, the numbers recording the amount consumed start moving and the liquid flows.

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In distant Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, the first oil well in the world was opened many years ago. The land around the city is full of drilling holes and an interwoven network of rust-colored pipes. This is the Source. What secrets are hidden in these century-old oil fields, beloved of both Stalin and Hitler? Why do the matryoshka dolls of President Alijev cost more than those of Osama bin Laden? Will Azerbaijan be saved by the Contract of the Century and the magnificent oil pipeline? Everything relates to everything and the costs are sometimes higher than the figure on the bill.

Auto*Mat – 2009

Traffic in contemporary Prague. Everyday accidents, traffic jams, unbreathable air. The police give out fines for wrong parking, to no effect. In the middle of it all, a group of activists emerge who try to persuade the municipal authorities to set the Czech capital finally on the path of more human-centered development.

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The award-winning documentary movie Auto*Mat (winner of Czech Documentary of the Decade Award) offers multiple insights into Czech car culture, which rules over all. The documentary sharply contrasts this with the inability of the city officials to organize even a few simple bike lanes. We see tyre-burning feasts or a megalomaniac road-tunnel blessed by a priest (in a predominantly atheist country). The movie challenged many assumptions and prejudices, generating wider public discussion about the role of public spaces and transport in the city. If we want to change something, we have to start thinking about changing ourselves and act!

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