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Film presented in the Czech pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal, promoted as the world's first interactive movie. All members of the audience had a red and a green button in front of them (the results of voting was displayed around the screen). The movie itself was a dark comedy about a man who believes he was responsible for his apartment building burning down, and is structured as a series of flashbacks leading up to the fire. After each scene the film would stop and a live performer would walk onto the stage and ask the audience to vote. Immediately, as if by magic, the voted scene was played.

How did they do it? Deceipt, of sorts. The branching structure wasn't tree-like, doubling the number of scenes needed at each choice, but rather always remained only two. They did this by carefully crafting a story such that no matter which of the two options were chosen, it would end up back at the same next choice. The vote was executed by the projectionist switching one lens cap between the two synchronized projectors. The artfulness, ultimately, was not in the interaction but in the illusion of interaction. The film's director, Radúz Činčera, made it as a satire of democracy, where everyone votes but it doesn't make any difference.

Authors: Radúz Činčera, directors Jan Roháč and Vladimír Svitáček, scenographer Josef Svoboda, and Jaroslav Frič and Bohumil Mika.

Despite the film’s success in Montreal, it wasn’t shown in Prague until four years later, in 1971. It was so popular that there were screenings twice a day. But less than a year later the Communists had banned it. Alena Cincerova explains why.

“All this group of authors was so-called ‘politically unconfident’, they didn’t like them so much and I think that was the main reason the film was put in the safe, like many other beautiful films from the so-called New Wave era, the golden era, of Czech cinematography.”

Ivo Anderle: “As you might know, originally at the end of the 60s all the big Hollywood studios were asking Mr Cincera for Kinoautomat licensing. Unfortunately in the Socialist era this was not possible, it was the property of the state which did not care so much about selling it, so Kinoautomat was not lucky.”

See also