The former president Václav Havel has begun directing a film adaptation of his latest play, Leaving. The play, which premiered in 2008, deals with a politician's painful adjustment to a new life after retiring from politics. The 73-year-old playwright led his country for 13 years, but since his own political retirement has returned to stage work – and is now making his debut in film.
The name Pete Best became a synonym for nearly man after he was kicked out of The Beatles before they became the biggest band the world had ever seen. The group’s original drummer is currently in Prague to perform at an exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music entitled Beatlemánie, which features original memorabilia and documents how young people in Czechoslovakia, like their peers elsewhere in the world, were thrilled by the explosion of the Fab Four. On the eve of the show, I discussed The Beatles’ continued popularity with Pete Best.
One of the best known Czech visual artists, the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, was born in July 1860. To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Mucha Foundation is launching an exhibition called The Apotheosis of Love. The exhibit opens in Prague on Friday, before moving on to several other locations in the Czech Republic.
The 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival begins in the west Bohemian spa town next Friday. As an event, this year’s festival will no doubt be as big and colourful as ever. But the programme will be slightly smaller with “only” 180 films, around 30 fewer than usual. At the final pre-festival news conference in Prague, Karlovy Vary’s programme director Karel Och told me why.
This weekend, Prague’s Kampa Island turned into a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, hosting a festival called RefuFest. Now in its fifth year, the festival supports the integration of foreigners, mainly refugees, into Czech society. It offered visitors a rich programme, including music, theatre, film screenings, debates and workshops.
Now in its 52nd year, Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival transforms composer Bedřich Smetana’s home town in east Bohemia into a paradise for music lovers. The music festival, which is the country’s second oldest, kicked off on Friday and will run until July 5. What can visitors expect this year?
Jana Zielinski is the director of Designblok, a Prague-based festival that brings together designers from the Czech Republic and abroad. What started 12 years ago as a small event targeted at design professionals, has blossomed into Prague’s biggest design festival, attracting 30,000 visitors last year. I spoke to Zielinski about her love for design, how the festival started and her plans for the future.
The first year of what looks set to become the biggest annual theatrical event in the country launched at the weekend. The nine-day Theatre World Festival in Brno will feature ensembles from a dozen countries. However, the main attraction comes from the Czech Republic, in the form of the complete works of playwright-president Václav Havel, some of which will receive their world premiere.
Last month Prague hosted Bookworld, one of Europe’s major international book fairs. Writers from around the world, whose work covers a Babel of different languages, converged on the Czech capital. As part of the event, six of the writers got together to talk about how literature can play a role in helping to build understanding between cultures. A lively discussion emerged, chaired by Radio Prague’s David Vaughan.