It’s been described by one historian as one of the greatest finds about the Czechoslovak communist era. Several kilometres of film and sound were recently discovered at a factory and they cover the show trial of one of the country’s top communist officials. Details of the discovery and plans for the find were revealed on Thursday.
The minister of culture, Daniel Herman, is not planning to accede to demands to dismiss the head of the National Film Archive, Michal Bregant. A group of cameramen have been in dispute with Mr. Bregant for some years over the NFA’s approach to digitising old Czech films. Responding to a letter from the cameramen and a number of directors, the Office of the Government said Mr. Herman was unaware of any reasons to dismiss the NFA chief. The cameramen, who are members of the Film and Television Union, posted the response on the association’s Facebook page.
Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, which is tasked with preserving the Czech Republic’s rich cinema heritage and oversees over 150 million metres of film. Previously he headed another important institution, FAMU film school. A Praguer through and through, Bregant grew up on the city centre street Celetná. His family’s kitchen window overlooked the adjacent, narrow Kamzíkova – and there we take a short trip down memory lane at the start of our tour of “his Prague”.
On July 5, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival screened a fresh copy of the New Wave classic Ostře Sledované Vlaky (Closely Watched Trains, 1966). This is the latest Czech film to have undergone a major restoration. At the same time, the Czech National Film Archive is waiting to see if funding is made available for the restoration of a further ten films from its renowned collection. In this special programme, Dominik Jůn visits the archive to discuss issues related to restoration, digitisation - and the difference between the two.
American film historians recently came across a fascinating discovery when they found the Czech National Film Archive has the only surviving print of the 1929 US movie, the Mysterious Island. The archive in Prague stores around 500 films from Hollywood’s early days, proof that the global dominance of American cinema goes all the way back to the birth of the film industry.
Closely Watched Trains, director Jiří Menzel’s masterwork which won the 1967 Best Foreign Language Oscar, will be digitally restored in time for the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival next year. The decision was announced on Monday by festival organisers together with representatives of the National Film Archive. The film is one of the best-known to come out of the Czech New Wave in the 1960s. It was based on a book of same name by Bohumil Hrabal and starred a young Václav Neckář in the lead role.
A new film sharing project that has just been launched in the Czech Republic hopes to become a game-changer in distributing movies on the internet. The project, entitled 31s, works in a way similar to illegal file sharing – but offers film fans a chance to pay for the content they download from the web. The start-up project has been backed by some players in the film industry – but others, including anti-piracy campaigners, remain highly sceptical.
Vojtech Jasný’s lyrical masterpiece All My Good Countrymen is the third classic Czech film to have been digitally restored in recent years, and, like its predecessors, the new version will be seen for the first time at the Karlovy Vary film festival. Ahead of Saturday’s gala screening, I discussed the movie and its restoration with the person who oversaw the project, Anna Batistová, head of the Audiovisual Collection at the National Film Archive.