The Summer Film School in the town of Uherske Hradiste in south Moravia is currently underway. Film fans from all over the Czech Republic have been gathering for more than four decades every summer to watch and discuss good films. One of the main themes of this year's Film School is Irish cinema. Radio Prague's Coilin O'Conor - himself from Ireland - is at the event and Martin Mikule spoke with him earlier about the festival highlights.
"Well, basically the film festival is showing a retrospective of about 60 films starting from the 1920s up to the present day. So, for anyone who isn't really familiar with Irish film at all, they have a great chance to see most of the highlights of the past 60 or 70 years."
What kind of events have you noticed in Uherske Hradiste?
"The accompanying program is all to do with Ireland as well, which is quite clever. They have lots of Irish music workshops, plus plenty of concerts. It was quite interesting first night because we've had Bronagh Gallagher who appeared in The Commitments and is also a very well known female singer in Ireland, Glen Hansard, who is one of the biggest bands in Ireland, The Frames, and Maria Kennedy Doyle who is also from The Commitments and is one of the leading female singers of her generation.
"And David Kitt who has sold many records in Ireland and around the world. We were all sitting on the main square in Uherske Hradiste with a local musician called Frantisek. They were so defiantly monolingual they ended up calling him Frank. Frank and his buddies had some fiddles and an acoustic double bass with them and these four Irish musicians and these
Moravian musicians started playing songs to each other, and by the end of the night the whole square was clapping along, singing some sort of mishmash of Irish and Moravian folk songs and it was quite an amazing moment for anyone who was there."
Coilin, you are Irish yourself, what do you think about the reactions of Czech viewers at the Irish films? Do you think Czechs have any chance to understand them? I mean given the Irish humour, the way of thinking...
"Well, I talked to the festival director Jiri Kralik about that and he said he watched about half of the 60 films that are showing and he instantly made a connection. A lot of the subject matter was to do with resistance and revolt and he definitely thought there was a connection between the Irish revolutionary tradition and the Czech revolutionary tradition, such as it exists and which manifested itself in 1968 and 1989, and he definitely thought there was a lot of common ground.
"I talked to a lot of the Irish musicians who have come over like Glen Hansard who actually has a flat in Prague and has a lot of connections to the Czech Republic, and he said he wasn't sure about the revolutionary tradition but he definitely thinks that there is a definite similarity between the Irish and the Czechs. He can't quite put his finger on it but he said they both have the same guardedness and black sense of humour."
The Irish cinema is not the only theme of this year's Film school. Can you also tell us something about the other themes?
"There are quite a few one-off films from French directors and they are also showing the latest Czech films. These are all being shown on a huge screen on the main square. So it's quite an interesting festival. It's not really festival, it's actually a film school because they don't really show any new films, they just show lots of films that have already been released and they put them in a proper context with similar films or with people who were involved in the making of these films.
"One of the highlights was when we were watching the very recent Czech film called 'Tales of Ordinary Madness' on the main square in Uherske Hradiste. It's just broadcast for free for hundreds of visitors sitting around the square and sitting in a restaurant eating their dinner. It's a real festival atmosphere which you don't often associate with film festivals."
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