The Ark of Lights & Shadows - film and discussion with Jan E. Svatoš

Thu 14 Jan 2021 19:00 The event takes place online

Filmmaker and photographer Jan E. Svatoš is fascinated by forgotten stories and in his documentary The Ark of Lights & Shadows, he chronicles that of pioneering filmmakers Martin & Osa Johnson. Hundred years ago, the Johnsons filmed authentic footage in Africa at a time when other films about Africa where shot in studious with captive ZOO lions. Jan E. Svatoš tells the story of these historic filmmakers, whose legacy should not be forgotten. The Johnsons’ lives’ work is also remembered by Safari Museum which bears their name and is located in their home state of Kansas. There, you can see not only their letters and photographs but even some of their Hollywood films.


In this online presentation and discussion, Jan E. Svatoš will pull back the curtain on the making of his successful documentaries filmed in Africa and the USA (The Ark of Lights & Shadows, wildWORKS, Africa Obscura). You’ll find out what it’s like to work with the renown Werner Herzog, do research in the Library of Congress, film with anti-poacher patrol or finance an independent documentary. Jan will share stories from his decade-long journey of making this film as well as the inspiration for his next project When the Lion Roars about Czech king Přemysl II. Otakar and Franciscan monk Odorik.

Watch the trailer for The Ark of Lights & Shadows here:

The films of Jan E. Svatoš are remarkable in their thorough and long examination of their respective topics, as he uncovers new and ever surprising context. Through his films, Jan questions the validity of cultural and societal stereotypes. His keenly interest in the environment and sustainability has lead him to get involved in several international festivals, including as a juror at NaturVision, Ekofilm, Příběhy země. In 2010, he spearheaded the expedition “Photographic Return” in which he traveled to hostile environments of northern Kenya and took photos using old analog technology, including developing the film by himself in a portable dark room. He’s been working on his feature debut The Ark of Lights and Shadows since 2008 and even the world famous Werner Herzog was a consultant on the film. 

Jacquelyn Borgeson Zimmer, curator emeritus (active) of The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, will also join the discussion. She has been with the museum since 1995, she develops curriculum, conservation programs, and coordinates the Safari Film Festival. Jacquelyn curated a national touring exhibition based on the lives of explorers and filmmakers Martin and Osa Johnson and she remains the liaison between the museum and its sister museums in Burkina Faso, West Africa and in Sabah, Malaysia. She has presented museum lecture programs across the US, in Chile, and in the Czech Republic. 

Jan E. Svatoš is a graduate of FAMU, Charles Universtiy and Famo Písek. Together with the cinematographer Romi Straková, they have made over ten documentary films, many of which have been in competition at international festivals and has earned them numerous awards. Jan has received the prestigious JADE KUNLUN Special Jury Award and Special Jury Award at Włodzimierz Puchalski International Nature Film Festival (WFO Lodz, Poland) for his documentary wildWORKS.

Learn more at his website:

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Information summary

  • Event title: The Ark of Lights & Shadows - film and discussion with Jan E. Svatoš
  • Date: Thu 14 Jan 2021
  • Time: 19:00
  • Address: The event takes place online

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