Sunday, 18 March 2018

Documentary presents life in five Baťa-built towns

13 March 2018

Zlin, South Moravia, March 12 (CTK) - Batalives, a new Czech documentary, presents the life in five towns which Czech 20th-century magnate Tomas Bata and his heirs built near their company's shoe-making plants in the Czech Lands and abroad, Karolina Zalabakova, told CTK on Monday.

Zalabakova made the film together with Petr Babinec.

In the Czech Republic, the town with Bata's plant, surrounded by neighbourhoods that provided housing and complete services for the plant's employees, is Zlin, now the centre of southeast Moravia.

"Most of the film crew either grew up or live or study in Zlin, so we know it well that there are more small Zlins elsewhere in the world. The others, however, found this amazing, bordering on sci-fi or a comics. We therefore decided to make a film about it," Zalabakova said.

The authors did not want to make a classical documentary film full of facts and talking heads. They preferred focusing on the life stories of concrete inhabitants of Zlin and the other towns developed by Bata - Batadorp in the Netherlands, Borovo in Croatia, Batangar in India and Bataypora in Brazil.

The five towns differ from each other, but the trace of the shoe-making giant is still palpable there.

"For example, in Croatia, the houses and the factory are identical with those in Zlin, though damaged by the war. The factory was completely destroyed by bombing and half of the houses have turned into ruins," film producer Lukas Gargulak said.

Zalabakova said somewhere the Bata towns remind of open-air museums while elsewhere, like in India, they are being pulled down.

The filming took two years, but each locality required a different period of time.

"In all places where we shot the film, people know Bata. They often believe that [the Bata empire] is a company founded by their fellow citizen," Gargulak said.

Zlin native Tomas Bata (1876-1932) built unique satellite towns for his plant's employees. After his death, this legacy was further developed by his step-brother and heir, Jan Antonin Bata, under whose management the Bata company established dozens of such towns across the world, some of which still serve their original purpose.

On Friday, a new plaque commemorating Jan Antonin Bata (1898-1965) was unveiled on a villa in Zlin, which he had built in the 1920s, some 15 years before leaving his Nazi-occupied homeland for the USA and later Brazil.

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