Gene Deitch, who turns 95 next month, is by some distance the US citizen longest resident in Prague. Deitch had run a successful animation studio in New York prior to the fateful meeting in 1959 with his future wife Zdenka that led him to settle in Prague soon after. From behind the Iron Curtain, he produced an Oscar-winning animated short, as well as directing Tom and Jerry and Popeye cartoons for the American market.
One of the many successful exhibitions marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia is Mini Wonders, which explores the evolution of Czech toy design over the past century. The iconic Czech toys, including the inflatable animal-shaped seats produced by the company Fatra, have already been shown at Czech centres in Tokyo, Jerusalem, London and Prague, and will now travel to Moscow, Warsaw and Bratislava.
This Saturday, Pilsen will officially become 2015 European City of Culture. The project will kick off with a grand opening ceremony, featuring more than 150 artists from the Czech Republic and abroad, the largest video mapping in the country and the sound of new bells from the local cathedral. I spoke to Jiří Sulženko, the head of the project's Programme Department, and started by asking about the spectacular opening event.
A major exhibition dedicated to the great Czech animator and illustrator Jiří Trnka is set to open in his hometown of Plzeň on Saturday as part of the city’s events as European Capital of Culture. The show – designed by his son Jan Trnka – will feature Trnka’s puppets for films, book illustrations, paintings, sculptures and other items on an area measuring hundreds of square metres. It will also include a screening room showing Trnka’s animated films. Plzeň’s year as European Capital of Culture officially gets underway with three days of events this weekend.
Prague Municipal Court gave the former head of the the Regional Council of the South-East Cohesion Region Jiří Trnka and his colleague Martin Půlpytel suspended three-year sentences for illegally manipulating European funding. Both men are accused of deliberately influencing the selection of projects for the 2009 Regional Operational Program funding call in order to secure equal funding for the Plzeň and the South Bohemian regions. The court also ruled that both men are prohibited from working with state funding, Mr. Trnka for five years and Mr. Půlpytel for four. Both deny the accusations and will most likely appeal the verdict.
It would be hard to meet a Czech whose childhood was not touched (perhaps unconsciously) by the art of Jiří Trnka, a painter, puppeteer, illustrator and above all, the founding father of Czech animated film. His poetic drawings brought immortality to books that would otherwise be long forgotten. And his animated films bestowed dozens of puppets and drawings with life.
For the tenth year in a row, a small workshop in the Prague neighbourhood of Vršovice is hosting a group of students from the US, India, Australia and other countries who come to learn how to make traditional Czech marionettes. The man who runs the courses and who teaches his international students everything they need to know about puppets is Miroslav Trejtnar, our guest in this edition of One on One. When I visited his workshops, the course was halfway trough and the students had just begun carving their puppets, which as Mr Trejtnar says it’s
This week saw the opening of a new exhibition of some of the best work by one of former Czechoslovakia’s most famous illustrators, painters as well as the father of Czech animated film, Jiří Trnka, who died in 1969. Trnka is beloved for his creative use of highly detailed and mobile marionettes, and remains a veritable favourite among children for his illustrations – not least in Jan Karafiát’s famous Broučci (Fireflies) and also Trnka’s own much loved children’s classic, The Garden – about five boys, five elephants, a curmudgeon of a tomcat and
The studio Bratři v triku, or “Brothers in T-Shirts”, has been the major producer of Czech animated film since the 1940s. Virtually every talent in Czech cartooning has gone through the studio, and it has won essentially every national and international award available to animators. But most importantly perhaps, the work of the studio has influenced generation after generation of Eastern Europeans and audiences elsewhere in the world as well. In this week’s Arts, Christian Falvey takes a peek into the cradle of Czech animation.