A festival of Iranian films held in Prague this week brings over two dozen feature films, shorts and documentaries to audiences in the Czech capital. Entitled Iran: A Different Reflection, the third edition of the festival focuses on contemporary Iranian cinema, featuring films such as The Past by the Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, and A Cube of Sugar, the country’ official candidate for this year’s Academy Awards.
Karel Och, who hails from a small town in the Vysočina region, is artistic director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. For most of the year, Och and his colleagues are based in a building on Panská St. in downtown Prague, directly behind the Holy Cross Church on the bustling Na příkopě. Our tour of “his Prague” begins in his cosy office, which at present overlooks a construction site on Panská.
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.
Jiří Menzel received a lifetime achievement award at the Grand OFF World Independent Short Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday. The Oscar-winning Czech film director is extremely popular in Poland where he attended a screening of all his films this spring. His best-known films include the Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains, Larks on a String, Cutting it Short and My Sweet Little Village.
In early November, the Czech foreign affairs and culture ministries combined efforts with the country’s film industry to make a promotional push in India’s film capital Mumbai. Culture Minister Jiří Balvín together with representatives of the Czech Cinematographic Fund, the Association of Producers, and the Czech Film Commission made a pitch to the Bollywood elite to make better use of Czech film services and spectacular locations. Those have already become a favorite for a number of international productions.
One of the most compelling Czech documentaries of the year gets a cinema release on Thursday. Show! follows manufactured teen pop group 5Angels as they are drilled for fame by the super ambitious father of one of the young girls. Musicians who have remained popular since the communist era also appear in a film that lifts the lid on the Czech entertainment industry and raises questions about exploitation.
A Norwegian TV series set in the time of the Second World Ward has begun filming in Prague, a Czech film production company said. The show entitled The Heavy Water War focuses on the secret development of Nazi nuclear weapons; it stars, among others, the British actress Anna Friel. The Czech production firm said filming in Prague would take 40 days; the producers are to spend 95 million crowns in the Czech Republic out of the show’s total budget of 275 million.
Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, a state body that oversees over 150 million metres of film, tens of thousands of movie posters and other valuable materials. When we met at a lively bar near the FAMU film school, of which Bregant was dean for six years, we discussed film preservation, digitisation and the future of the NFA. But the first topic of conversation was the foundation of the Archive way back in 1943: Were the Czechoslovaks unusual in realising at that time that their movies needed to be looked after?
The annual student film festival FAMUfest is celebrating its 30th year this week. Starting on Wednesday night the festival will present the films made by Prague’s film school students. In addition to the films from the past year, the festival will also feature student films from previous years, going back to the early nineties. Awards for the best films will be presented on Saturday.
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