A documentary drama on a notorious Communist-era state prosecutor and judge is set for general release in the Czech Republic next week. Murderer by Profession: The Suffering of Karel Vaš features a rare interview with Vaš, who was a key player in some of Czechoslovakia’s notorious show trials of the early Communist period and died last year at the age of 96. Among his best-known victims was war hero General Helidor Píka, whose intercession with the Soviet authorities to have Czechoslovak soldiers freed during WWII may well have saved the life of Vaš, who was being held in a Gulag camp. The film is largely the work of historian Pavel Paleček, who wrote, co-directed and produced it. Its makers say they plan to screen the film at schools and to have it shown at festivals.
The maker of a miniseries on the 1969 death of Jan Palach and its aftermath has hit back at statements made about him by a former head of the Communist Party. Polish director Agnieska Holland told the new website iDnes.cz that making Palach out to be a Communist represented an abuse of his legacy. On Friday, hard-line Communist Miroslav Grebeníček said Palach had acted out of sympathy for the reform Communists defeated by the Soviet-led invasion of August 1968, adding that claiming he had become a symbol of the struggle against totalitarian Communism was completely misleading. He made the comments during a debate prior to a vote that made January 16, the anniversary of Palach’s self-immolation, a day honouring his memory. Ms. Holland – whose three-part Burning Bush is currently being screened – said the student’s actual aim had been to spark resistance to Communist rule. The Oscar-nominated director, who is 64, studied at Prague’s FAMU film school and was herself involved in anti-regime activities around the time of Palach’s death.
Nominations for the 20th inception of Český lev, the Czech Lion national film awards, were announced at Prague’s Lucerna cinema on Saturday night. The event, which will be shown live on public broadcaster Czech Television, preceded the actual awards ceremony, which takes place in exactly a month’s time. Members of the Czech Academy of Film and Television chose from among 30 feature films and 15 documentaries that premiered in 2012. Director Bohdan Slama’s film Čtyři slunce (Four Suns) received the most nominations – 12 – including best picture. The four films other nominated for best film are Odpad město smrt, Okresní přebor, Polski film and Ve stínu.
Nominations for the 20th inception of Český lev, the Czech Lion national film awards, will be announced at Prague’s Lucerna cinema on Saturday night. The event, which will be shown live on public broadcaster Czech Television, precedes the actual awards ceremony, which takes place in exactly a month’s time. Members of the Czech Academy of Film and Television chose from among 30 feature films and 15 documentaries that premiered in 2012.
‘Limonádový Joe’ (Lemonade Joe) is a cult sixties Czech western cum musical about a lemonade salesman in the Wild West. The film started life as column in a newspaper written by Jiří Brdečka during the war, before becoming a theatre play, and then finally the all-singing, all-dancing, film production Czechs know and love today. Tereza Brdečková is a film critic and the daughter of Jiří Brdečka, the man who conceived the movie:
The film Ve stínu (In the Shadow) by director David Ondříček has won the film critics’ awards for best movie of 2012. The film, a dark detective story set in the 1950s, won in another four categories including best director, photography, music and best male actor in leading role. The prize for best documentary was awarded to the film Láska v hrobě (Love in the Grave) by David Vondráček about a pair of homeless people living in one of Prague’s cemeteries. The third annual Film Critics’s award were handed out at a ceremony in the Archa Theatre in the capital on Saturday night.
Last year the most watch film in theatres in the Czech Republic was not a local production – it was Ice Age 4. The family friendly cartoon drew in just over 670 thousand viewers in the movie theatres. The Czech film You Kiss Like the Devil came in second with around 501 thousand viewers. The next few spots down on the list also belonged to foreign films. The year before, the top spot was taken by Muži v nadějí, or Men in Hope, that was seen by over 850 000 moviegoers. Nonetheless, 2012 saw 400 thousand more people go to the movies in the Czech Republic than in the previous year.
The veteran Czech film director Jiří Menzel has just completed work on his latest film. The picture, which will reach Czech cinemas at the end of May, is named “Donšajni”, which means “Don Giovannis”, and is about a group in a small town putting on a production of the opera. Menzel’s previous credits include the Oscar-winning Closely Observed Trains and I Served the King of England.
Public broadcaster Czech TV this week will launch the first of several new documentary series that fall under the heading of docusoap. The format, well-known to audiences in Great Britain, for example, but less familiar here, focuses on real and personal stories as drama and entertainment. Entitled Čtyři v tom (which could be loosely translated as Four Buns in the Oven) the series was co-directed by filmmaker Linda Kallistová Jablonská (whose previous films includes a documentary about young communists and conservatives) and Zuzana Špidlová (recognised
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