Fans of Czechoslovak cinema, in particular the Czech New Wave, will most likely be familiar with many of the films of director Jiří Menzel. From the Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains to Larks on a String and Capricious Summer, Menzel changed Czech film forever. This Friday, he celebrates his 80th birthday.
English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist Mark Gattis, will be
among the guests of this year’s Febiofest international film festival,
the organisers announced on Wednesday.
Mr Gattis, who he is a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen, will present his BBC drama series Queers that looks at life for gay men and women in the UK.
Mark Gattis is best known for writing for and acting in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock. He also appeared in the HBO series Games of Thrones.
The first major international film festival of the year, the Berlinale, gets underway on Thursday. The Czech Republic is being represented at the prestigious showcase by three films, including one starring veteran director Jiří Menzel and a documentary exploring the life of a young paramilitary leader in Slovakia. Ahead of the festival, I spoke to Markéta Šantrochová of the Czech Film Center, who will be promoting the country’s cinema in Berlin.
The comedy film Prezident Blaník, which features scenes involving real
candidates from the recent Czech presidential elections, enters cinema
distribution around the country on Thursday.
The makers of Prezident Blaník shot scenes at presidential debates and during celebrations on November 17, with the film’s fictional characters – headed by political fixer Tonda Blaník – interacting with candidates for the post of head of state and several other figures from Czech public life.
The movie is an offshoot of Kancelář Blaník, a regular political satire that found large audiences on the website Stream.cz.
A new Czech Television documentary, Barbican: Forgotten Mission, tells the previously unknown story of how around 100 Jewish children were air-bridged to the UK from Prague in early 1939. The organisers were a Christian group focused on converting Jews and their actions predated the well-known kindertransports run by Sir Nicholas Winton, though he was involved. The film’s director Jiří František Potužník says the story began with an archive photo of a small boy and a pilot.
The film Bába z Ledu or Ice Mother by Bohdan Sláma has received 15
nominations for this year’s Czech Lion domestic movie awards. The
romantic comedy describing relations between three generations in one
family was shot in a Czech-Slovak-French coproduction.
Po strništi bos (Barefoot) by Jan Svěrák has 13 nominations, followed by David Mrnka’s Milada with ten nominations. The Czech Lion awards are voted on by the Czech Film and Television Academy. The event will take place at Prague’s Rudolfinum on March 10.
The main prize in this year’s Trilobit film and television awards has
gone to director Tereza Nvotová for Mečiar. The feature-length
documentary explores the impact that the 1990s politician Vladimír
Mečiar, one of the architects of the split of Czechoslovakia, had on
The producer Čestmír Kopecký, who has been behind many successful Czech movies and TV seriesd, received a lifetime achievement award at Sunday evening’s awards ceremony in Beroun. The Trilobit prize is bestowed by the Czech Film and Television Union.
The 1965 film Shop on the High Street was screened with musical
accompaniment from the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Smetana Hall at
Prague’s Municipal House on Wednesday night. The event was one of many
this year marking the 100th anniversary of the foundation of
The Shop on the High Street, whose music was composed by Zdeněk Liška, was the first Czechoslovak film to win an Academy Award. It was directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos.
Iranian cinema has been among the most critically acclaimed in the world in recent years. Czech audiences have been able to enjoy the cream of the country’s movies thanks to the Festival of Iranian Film, or ÍRÁN:CI, which is taking place for the seventh time in Prague. Ahead of Tuesday night’s opening ceremony I spoke to festival founder Kaveh Daneshmand, who explained the theme of the latest edition: Don’t be scared.
The documentary Children Online shines a highly revealing light on how the lives of kids in the Czech Republic are increasingly shaped, if not dominated, by the internet. The film shows that for today’s generation YouTube videos have largely supplanted television, to be offline is to be an outsider and cyber-grooming is a genuine threat. I discussed Children Online, which has been screened at 20 festivals, with its director, Kateřina Hager. My first question: What had drawn her to the subject to begin with?