Not only is Bohuslav Martinů one of the most famous Czech composers, but next to Antonín Dvořák he is also the most played. Born in the small Czech village of Polička on December 8, 1890, Martinů would end up spending most of his life abroad, writing hundreds of compositions and experimenting with styles including expressionism, constructivism and jazz. Despite living in Paris and the United States for much of his life, he was also a fervent patriot, who included Czech folk music themes into his compositions and even volunteered to serve in the
The 1966 film Daisies by Věra Chytilová has come sixth in an extensive new BBC poll of the 100 greatest works by female directors. But what makes the surreal, anarchic Czechoslovak New Wave film such a classic? I discussed Daisies with journalist Hynek Pallas, who wrote a description of it for the BBC project.
One of the highlights of this year’s Jihlava festival of documentary films was the Czech premiere of Kings of Šumava, which combines real interviews with animation to tell the gripping story of Josef Hasil. A native of the mountain range, Hasil was a border guard turned cross-border agent whose derring-do in smuggling defectors across the Iron Curtain led Czechoslovakia’s secret police to list him as the “king of Šumava” in their files.
The 23rd edition of the annual Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival gets underway on Thursday evening. Over the course of the next five days, the festival will showcase a total of 277 films, including a section dedicated to the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. I spoke to Marek Hovorka, the festival’s director, and asked to tell me more about the opening film, a tribute to the great Czech cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera:
Film director Jan Schmidt has died at the age of 85, Czech Television reported citing family sources. Jan Schmidt directed sixteen films between 1960 and 1995, including Late August at the Hotel Ozone (1967),The Lanfier Colony (1969)and The Death of a Talented Cobbler (1983).The also cooperated on Miloš Forman’s Oscar-winning Amadeus.
One of the most striking aspects of director Václav Marhoul’s new film The Painted Bird is the language spoken in it. The characters communicate in Interslavic, or Medžuslovjansky, an artificial language combining elements from several Slavic languages that fits with the WWII story’s unspecified Eastern European setting. Interslavic has in large part been developed by academic Dr. Vojtěch Merunka, who was closely involved in the movie. When we spoke, I first asked him about earlier attempts to create a Slavic lingua franca.
Released in 1964, Starci na chmelu is the first and perhaps most famous Czechoslovak film musical. The film’s songs were written by Vratislav Blažek and were recorded with some of the country’s most popular singers at the time, including Karel Gott, Josef Zíma, Jana Petrů and Karel Štědrý. With a story that transcends time, Starci na chmelu was one of the country’s commercially most successful movies and initiated a period which would produce many more film musicals.
Daughter, a Czech short animated film by Daria Kashcheeva, has won the U.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ student Oscar for best
animated film from international schools.
Kascheeva, a student of Prague’s Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts is the third Czech film director to win the prestigious award after Jan Svěrák and Marie Dvořáková, who won with their films Oil Gobblers (1989) and Who’s Who in Mycology (2017).
The award-giving gala ceremony in Los Angeles will take place on October 17.
Dvořák‘s Prague festival, dedicated to one of the country’s greatest
composers, opened at the Rudofinum concert hall on Sunday.
The opening concert, which this year falls on the day of Antonín Dvořák’s birth, featured Dvorak‘s Cello Concerto in B minor with Kian Soltani, one of the world’s most promising cellists of the younger generation, and Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony conducted by the world-famous conductor Christoph Eschenbach.
The festival, which closes on September 23,will showcase renowned soloists, such as violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Ivo Pogorelich, and some of the world’s leading orchestras.