Theatres and other state-subsidised arts institutions were celebrating victory over Prague’s City Council this week after councillors scrapped a controversial new system of awarding subsidies. The system – under which Prague’s theatres were subsidised according to the number of tickets sold – sparked a wave of protest by arts organisations and even led to angry artists disrupting a meeting of the city council.
Milena Jelinek teaches screenwriting at Columbia University. Half a century ago she herself studied at Prague’s FAMU film school, and was surrounded by many of the people who later created the Czech New Wave. She herself had a hit film while still a student, though her life soon became complicated – after getting engaged to a “foreigner”, JFK no less intervened to help her get married and leave Czechoslovakia. In recent years Milena Jelinek has enjoyed success in her home country with the film Forgotten Light and a theatre play about Adina
You may not be familiar with the name Josef Koudelka, but there is a very good chance you will know his work. And we’re all sure to see a lot more of it as the August anniversary of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia draws nearer. Koudelka’s striking black-and-white shots of tanks in the centre of Prague and other images from that turbulent period are regarded as some of the most important works of photojournalism of the 20th century.
Věra Chase has had six books published. They include poetry and prose - both short stories and a novel with the intriguing title, “Passion for Peaches”. Věra hails from a Prague literary family and says that she identifies closely with her home city, although she has travelled widely and lived for some time in London. Her grandfather was one of the many journalists thrown out of Czechoslovak Radio after the Soviet invasion of 1968 and the family was deeply mistrusted by the communist regime. Refusing to succumb to stereotype and convention, Věra
The great Czech composer Antonín Dvořák lived in New York for three years in the 1890s, after being invited to teach at America’s national conservatory. Dvořák’s stay in the city made a tangible impact on his work, and it was there that he was to write the wonderful New World Symphony. Today his legacy in New York is kept alive by the Dvořák American Heritage Association.
Writers from all over the world gathered in Prague this week to recall the strange days of 1968. The Prague Writers’ Festival, which was originally set up to promote Central European writing abroad, attracted a larger-than-ever number of authors to the Czech capital – here to recall the Prague Spring of 1968, as well as what they themselves were up to, the year that shook the world.
Martin Rajniš is a renowned Czech architect, who along with Johnny Eisler and Miroslav Masák, authored the famous Máj building (now Tesco) in the centre of Prague. Designed in the high tech style Máj was one of Czechoslovakia’s first department stores and is now a cultural heritage site. But that is only one of the architect’s achievements: in the 1990s after the fall of Communism, he was involved in the extensive redesigning of the area around Anděl in Prague’s Smíchov district. Since, the architect has also concentrated more and more on designs
Amadeus, Mission: Impossible and Casino Royale are just a few of more than 70 international films shot in and around Prague since the 1980s. Visitors to the Czech capital now can follow in the steps of their favourite stars – with a newly published map that will show them where all the action took place.