Over the past year and half, the Czech National Library has been carrying out a unique research project documenting books confiscated or dispossessed and brought to Czechoslovakia during World War II or shortly afterwards. Many of the books got lost, while others lay scattered in the archives all over the country for decades. Now, the National Library has uncovered at least part of the collection to map the books’ history and trace their original owners.
Jiří Brdečka is remembered above all for the screenplay of one of the best loved Czech comedies. The 1964 film Limonadový Joe (Lemonade Joe) is a parody of the western; the hero of the title is a teetotal sharpshooter, who turns out to be the Wild West sales rep – with a gift for the one-liner – of a soft drinks company called Kola Loka. The film is full of quirky humour and this is something that we also find in a side of Brdečka’s work that has been neglected since his death over thirty years ago. Perhaps his greatest contribution to cinema are
The Magnesia Litera award for Czech book of the year has gone to Točité věty (Spiral Sentences) by Daniela Hodrová. The judges described it as a powerful work reflecting on friendship, memory and man’s ultimate concerns. Ms. Hodrová, who is a literary theoretician and is in her late 60s, picked up the award and a cheque for CZK 200,000 at a ceremony at the New Stage of the National Theatre in Prague on Tuesday night.
In communist days, writing inspired by love and passion between people of the same sex was largely taboo, and even today lesbian and gay writing in the Czech Republic tends to be ignored, despite having a long and rich tradition. Things are no better when it comes to translations of lesbian and gay poets and novelists into Czech. But the translator Sylva Ficová is trying to put things right, translating both into Czech and from Czech to English. She tells us more in this week’s Czech Books with David Vaughan.
The Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian regimes have cooperated on a book just out tracing the fate of the close to 300 people who were killed trying to flee from communist Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The book published under the heading The Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia is a collection of human interest stories portraying the victims, what motivated them to risk their lives crossing the Iron Curtain and who is responsible for their deaths.
The film Obecná škola (The Elementary School) is to be screened to Czech communities around the world on March 28 in tribute to the great screenwriter and actor Zdeněk Svěrák, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday on that day. A digitally restored version of the highly popular 1991 movie will be shown in around 30 places on virtually all continents, the director Jan Svěrák – Zdeněk Svěrák’s son – told reporters. The pair enjoyed their greatest success with Kolya, which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996.
Court proceedings against the Czech Republic have been launched by the European Commission in Brussels. The Commission has launched court action against Prague over the fact that only Czech citizens are allowed to be notaries. It said that there was no cause for such national discrimination and pointed at that the Court of Justice had already delivered guilty verdicts in similar cases. Brussels said it was also monitoring the actions of other states with similar cases.