Aficionados of Czech cinema are flocking to the western Bohemian town of Plzeň to take in the best of last year’s domestic film – and more, as it stretches beyond the border for the first time to focus on contemporary and restored films from Poland.
Director Miloš Forman’s 80th birthday provides a chance for the Czech Center in New York to display posters for his films. The ones made for his classic New Wave efforts highlight a lost era of Czech art, since talented graphic designers in the 1960s could use experimental techniques that no studio would allow today. Some of these posters are quite rare and highly sought by collectors.
The vital role played by Prague cafés in intellectual history goes beyond the sphere of the Czech capital and nation to a truly global prominence. The most notable figure in this respect is Franz Kafka, though the city’s café-goers have included a wide variety of artists, philosophers, novelists and the Czech Republic’s first president, Václav Havel.
The Festival of French Film begins on Nov. 24 and will take place throughout the Czech Republic. Fourteen cinemas are participating in the screenings of new releases, notable classics and selected shorts in Prague, Brno and six other towns. The definition of ‘French film’ includes international co-productions with French participation, further adding to the variety.
The award-winning New York-based children’s writer and illustrator Peter Sís has covered some unusual ground in his books, from the discoveries of Galileo (in Starry Messenger) to his own boyhood in Communist Czechoslovakia (The Wall). His latest, The Conference of the Birds, is no exception, taking as its starting point a 12th century Sufi poem of the same title.
The team of Jiří Voskovec and Jan Werich were two of the most notable talents of 20th century Czech culture. As seminal as their partnership was, though, their split was equally significant, when Voskovec opted to emigrate to the US while Werich decided to return to communist Czechoslovakia. Now a documentary tells the story of Voskovec’s American years.
Kamera OKO is celebrating its third birthday by choosing the best cinematographic work and taking them to former industrial venues Ostrava is known for, changing the “steel town” into a vibrant cultural city.
Known as “the father of Czech cinema,” Otakar Vávra directed over 50 films in his lifetime — under both the Nazi occupation and Communist regime — and helped found Prague’s famous academy FAMU, where he taught the craft to generations of filmmakers, including “Czech New Wave” masters like Věra Chytilová, Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel (both Oscar winners), and a decade later, Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica.
As it clocks up its 80th anniversary this November, Barrandov Studios could not be a better barometer for the mercurial fortunes of the Czech nation. The calm nature of the massive main site of the studios belies a place that has been swept by the tides of history — and which also played a role in events.
Prague’s FAMU (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts) has been named the world’s seventh best film school and tops in Europe by the US magazine The Hollywood Reporter in its annual ranking. Founded in 1947/1948, FAMU is the world’s fifth-oldest film school after those in Moscow, Berlin, Rome and Paris; among its most famous graduates are Miloš Forman, Ivan Passer, Agnieszka Holland, Emir Kusturica and Jiří Menzel.