August 5 was the 20th anniversary of the death of one of the most important Czech 20th century poets. Ivan Blatný spent his last years in Clacton-on-Sea, a resort on the east coast of England. He had spent more than half his life in exile, and most of that time as a patient in various psychiatric hospitals. It was in these unlikely circumstances that he wrote some of his best poetry, after being virtually forgotten as a writer for several decades. David Vaughan has more in this week’s edition of Czech Books.
Thursday saw the premiere of a new documentary on HBO Czech Republic by respected filmmaker and cameraman David Čálek. Called Heaven, Hell – the film was aired as part of HBO’s Bez Cenzury (Without Censorship) series tackling issues rarely examined on the big or small screens. Heaven, Hell is a year-long look into the lives of four people deeply involved in the BDSM scene – that is bondage, domination, and sadomasochism.
As the school year begins, an uncommon sort of festival for children kicks off on Prague’s ancient hill of Vyšehrad. “Vyšehrátky” as it’s called, a romp on the old high castle, offers no cotton candy, no tedious clowns and no mind-numbing kiddie rides. Instead it brings in schools and families for a more avant-garde approach to children’s entertainment organised by students of the Academy of Drama. In this week’s Panorama, Christian Falvey found that they know how to please a young audience.
Perhaps the most successful Czech documentary film studio, Febio, has produced over 1300 programmes since it was established in Prague in the early 1990s. At the height of its activity, its authors made over 100 film documentaries a year that were mostly screened by the country’s public broadcaster, Czech Television. But this week, Febio’s founder and director Fero Fenič announced the studio’s closure.
The annual Fresh Film Festival has gotten underway in Prague, showcasing short and longer-length projects by student film directors and budding filmmakers from around the world. Over the next several days, audiences will be able to choose from 40 films in official competition in four categories: Fresh Generation, the Main Competition, Theatre Optique (looking at animated and avant garde film) and Fresh Czech (focusing on Czech productions).
Czech animation has a very long and rich history in the Czech Republic, but in the view of some young filmmakers it’s gotten behind the times. That’s why the studio Bohemian Multimedia has organised the Anomalia workshop, a two-month course in modern animation that has brought some of the best minds in the field – namely artists from the famed American studio Pixar – to the east Bohemian town of Litomyšl to share their knowledge with students from Central Europe and even other professional Czech animators. This afternoon we spoke with organiser
In this week’s Music Express our guest is Jan Žampa the talented singer/guitarist for Eddie Stoilow – an unusual Czech band founded in 2004. The group has grown increasingly popular, especially following the long, much-awaited release of just their first album just last year. Humorously called The Best of Eddie Stoilow, the album brought hits such as Hey You, Floating, and the catchy Realize and Compromise.
Not many of the thousands of passengers arriving every day at London’s busy St Pancras Station are aware that they are passing just a few dozen metres away from one of the largest and most diverse collections of Czech books outside the Czech Republic. Tucked in beside the station is the huge, but surprisingly inconspicuous complex of the British Library. In this week’s Czech Books, David Vaughan shows us some of the highlights of the library’s rich Czech collection.
In the first two weeks of its showing, the new Czech film Kajínek has shattered all of the country’s previous box office records. The ambitious home-grown take on the crime thriller genre, based on the story of convicted contract killer Jiří Kajínek, received massive promotion but its popularity has also been fuelled by persisting doubts about Kajínek’s guilt.
One of the country’s most respected poets and literary scholars, Ludvík Kundera, died on Tuesday at the age of 90. The writer (a cousin of the internationally-renowned author Milan Kundera) had a wide scope, writing poetry, drama, prose and translating from several languages. Last year he received the Jaroslav Seiffert prize for life-long achievement.