František Vláčil, Karel Kachyňa, Vojtěch Jasný, Jiří Menzel and several more of the greatest ever Czech film directors honed their craft in the army during the communist period. And as the Czechoslovak New Wave was blossoming, the country’s military were producing the kind of short films that were the envy of their counterparts elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc. That’s according to historian Alice Lovejoy, author of the book Army Film and the Avant Garde. We spoke when Lovejoy, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, was in Prague recently.
The Czech Film and Television Association FITES on Saturday presented its prestigious Vladislav Vančura award for lifelong contribution to Czech cinematography to film director Vojtěch Jasný, 90. Jasný was one of the first students of the Czech film academy FAMU in the field of photography and film direction 70 years ago. His films Desire (Touha, 1958) ,The Cassandra Cat (Až prijde kocour, 1963) and All My Good Countrymen (Všichni dobří rodáci 1968), are considered masterpieces of Czech cinema. All My Good Countrymen, which won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival for best director in 1969, was later banned by the communist regime. After the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Jasný fled to the West.
The UK's Second Run DVD recently celebrated 10 years of existence and 100 releases. About a quarter of the reissue company’s titles have been Czechoslovak films, ranging from the relatively famous Intimate Lighting by Ivan Passer to Adelheid, a lesser known work by František Vláčil, director of the classic Marketa Lazarová. When I met the company’s founder Mehelli Modi at a busy London café I wanted to know how he selects the Czechoslovak movies he released. As he explained, it all springs from his own passion for film.
German-born cameraman Walter Lassally worked on some of the greatest films produced in the British New Wave of the 1960s, including classics such as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Taste of Honey. The recipient of an Oscar for Zorba the Greek, he also has some Czech connections, including shooting the movie The Clown with his friend Vojtěch Jasný. Lassally (88), who was in Prague last week for the Cinematographers Days festival, made documentaries early in his career as part of the ground-breaking Free Cinema movement – so I asked
The arrival of John Travolta at hotel Thermal for the opening ceremony of
the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Friday evoked unusual
excitement among Czech film fans and attracted record crowds, according to
some new sources. More than 2,000 people came to the late-night screening
of Grease on the same night. At the official opening gala evening,
received the Crystal Globe award for lifetime contribution to world cinema
and direct Michel Godry introduced his latest film Mood Indigo. One of the
most awaited events on Saturday is the screening of the new film Killing
Season, which stars John Travolta, who will be introducing it as well.
Czech director Vojtěch Jasný received the Festival President’s Prize at the screening of the digitally premastered version of his best-known film All My Compatriots. The 87-year-old film pro, who directed over fifty films, both in Czechoslovakia and abroad, actively took part in the digitalization process.
Since the advent of the DVD video format in the late 1990s, many countries around the world have been re-mastering and restoring their respective movie archives. With the relatively recent advent of high resolution Blu-ray home movie technology, such restoration efforts have increased exponentially. But, perhaps surprisingly, the Czech Republic lags far behind its neighbours in this effort. While the Slovaks have restored around eighty feature films, animated films and documentaries, only two Czech films, the aforementioned Fireman’s Ball – the
The 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked off in the west Bohemian spa town on Friday. At the opening ceremony, the British actress Helen Mirren was honoured for her contribution to world cinema. The festival, which this year again features a Czech film in the main competition, will conclude next Sunday with the handing out of the Crystal Globe awards. Radio Prague’s former reporter, Ian Willoughby is at the festival, and we asked him for an account of the happenings so far.
In this edition of Czechs in History, we look back at the life and work of Ester Krumbachová, an artist, costume designer, screenwriter, and one of the most important personalities of the Czech New Wave. Although her name is somewhat forgotten today, she was a major inspiration to the leading filmmakers of the 1960s, such as Věra Chytilová, Jan Němec or Vojtěch Jasný.
One of the greatest legends of Czech cinema, director of photography Miroslav Ondříček, turned 75 on Wednesday. Twice an Academy Award nominee, he made over 40 movies in the course of a career that began in the 1950s. His most successful works include the award winning 1984 film Amadeus, many successful English and American movies as well as films of the Czech New Wave of the 1960s.