Each year, as the Karlovy Vary Film Festival gets underway, the West Bohemian spa town becomes the Czech Republic’s undisputed cultural capital for a week. The epicentres are the cinemas of course, with more than 200 films from around the world. But there are all kinds of goings on that that keep the town abuzz from early morn to early morn for eight long days. Christian Falvey is in Karlovy Vary, trying to keep up with it all.
The Czech Republic, like any Western country, may be inundated with American cinema, but just when you think you’ve seen it all, the US shows it has some more surprises. And if you’re going to see them anywhere then it’s going to be in Karlovy Vary, where the 44th International Film Festival is taking place. This week one of those surprises was a film and a director who has breathed new life into the inimitably American film genre of blaxploitation. Christian Falvey reports from Karlovy Vary.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opened at the weekend with a star-studded audience at Friday’s gala event. Among those present were the French director Patrice Chéreau and his compatriot, actress Isabelle Huppert, who received the festival’s first award. Particularly poignant though was the presence of Czech born director Miloš Forman, as it marked the return of a famous son to his native home and native language. Christian Falvey reports on the opening days of the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
A little over a week ago, my wife and I were able to get out for the first time in ages to see a concert, none other than Depeche Mode at the Slavia football stadium. The tickets were a Christmas gift and we had family babysitting our boy we were as giddy as school kids that we would finally, after a long while, be able to go out.
When Ivan Klíma was a little boy, he knew he wanted to be a writer. Today, he is one of the most respected figures of Czech literature. Ivan Klíma’s life journey included years in a Nazi concentration camp, membership in the communist party, and later a life on the fringe of the society, after he was expelled from the party and joined Czechoslovakia’s opposition movement. In his latest book, My Crazy Century, Ivan Klíma explains what happened that he found himself in the ranks of the communist party, a totalitarian and criminal organization that
The Vienna-based writer and poet Eugen Brikcius and his wife Zuzana are well-known in the Czech Republic for organising a wide variety of events or cultural happenings. On Tuesday, their latest project opened on a number of Prague streets: B&W poster images featuring photos and text on Czech life over the last 20 years. Called “From the Velvet Revolution to the EU Presidency”, the aim is to mark key moments that shaped the country after the fall of communism.
There are many festivals in and around Prague celebrating all the wonderful facets of this city imaginable. But until this weekend, there was never a festival that feted the city itself. Now the “Oslavy Prahy”, or Celebrations of Prague, festival is going to do just that. The three-day festival aims to turn Prague into what its organisers describe as “a paradise of music, film, theatre, art, sport, science, fashion, adrenalin and dance.”
One of the biggest cultural events of the season in the Czech Republic, the annual Shakespeare Summer Festival, has just begun at the Supreme Burgrave’s House at Prague Castle. Opening the festival on Thursday night was a new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, starring the great Czech comic actor Bolek Polívka as Falstaff and directed by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Jiří Menzel.
The Lusatian Sorbs are a small Slavic minority who can mostly be found in the East of Germany. But they have their history, and their friends, in the Czech Republic too. Petr Kaleta is in charge of the Friends of Lusatia Society – in Czech, the ‘Společnost přátel Lužice’ – I’ll let him introduce himself to you in Sorbian: