In the Czech Republic we have several film schools, which are known all around the world. FAMU, one of them, is based in Prague. This school holds its own film festival, which this year took place at the end of November. As a part of the festival, the department of Photography and Audiovisual Studies Centre has their own categories and nominations. Jonas Verešpej and Iryna Zakharova are the winners this year.

Jonas Verešpej is the winner in the category of best photography. In 2013 Jonas began getting his degree at FAMU but naturally he devoted himself to photo earlier.

How did you actually start taking pictures?

Gradually. At first I started with my mom's Olympus film camera, then my father brought of digital camera from work. But the greatest amount of attention I gave to photography in high school, we worked with a bunch of people, they actually gave a start to my creative attempts.

So you were certain from the beginning in which direction you want to go?

No, and in fact I'm not even sure now.

And could you imagine doing this for a living or did you have other expectations?

I've always been trying to have a plan B. I often do not trust my ideas and plans, so I've tried to always have something for a backup in case I get bored with my routine. 

And what you have in mind now or how do you plan to continue?

I wanted to try to live abroad; currently I am an intern in Amsterdam. But I am already looking forward to be back in Prague. It is necessary to start working on my own ideas which should be put into action. And maybe finally choose between plan A and B.

What does the victory in the FAMU festival mean to you?

It is a pleasant surprise, gives me to understand that things what I do make sense.

Another winner is Iryna Zakharova. She won in the category of best work Intermedia and multimedia. On the 8th of December she launched her new exhibition.

It's only your second exhibition. How does it go?

Yeah, the opening went well, the exhibition looks exactly the way I wanted. New things were created for this particular display. The installed exhibition itself is a key moment, it requires the most work, it is the moment where it all forms, and it is where perception meets reality.

Your plan of connecting ideas and reality worked really well during the festival, what does winning on this festival mean to you?

Well, I'm very grateful and gifts are always nice.

What role photography plays in your life?

Photographs formed my way of thinking; it is ephemeral and delicate substance that functions on multiple levels. I do not think about photography more than I thought about beetles or society, for example. It is all complete, a part of the whole picture, as well as anything else, what then creates a single image.

Do you have any idea in which direction you will continue?

I have ideas, I'm working on them, I just want to go deeper, to "liberate" my creative process as much as possible. But it is a lifelong task.

Who inspires you?

If you think of the work of artists, I have to say that they inspire me in a great way.  As well as classics, that inspire me by their way of thinking, I get a lot from something modern, like sci-fi movies, literature or even objects, materials, which I came across just that same day. Sometimes just one word or sentence can have an impact.  Recently I have been thinking a lot about my position; I am here, now, in space. For example, I'm from Ukraine. Even though I was born there and partly it shaped me, I'm not mentally there, neither here nor anywhere else. It's an interesting state of mind or perception, which changes the angle of the view. At the moment I can say that I'm online, but it is not enough, I need to anchor mentally, create my own mythology or make a tangible proof that I am. This is how a lot of people live; it's a "newly-normal "order of things. But that's a much longer story.

By: Alice Muziková | Edit: Julie Orlova | Photo: Jonáš Verešpej, Iryna Zakharova