The Czech city of Plzeň – best known for its world-famous lager – has reason to celebrate: on Wednesday shortly after 4 pm, members of an international jury announced that it – and not rival Ostrava in the east of the country - had won the bid to become 2015’s European Capital of Culture. It will share the honour with the Belgian city of Mons.
A controversial sculpture known as Entropa, by the famous Czech artist David Černý, has found a permanent home in Plzeň. The giant artwork was unveiled this week at the Techmania Science Museum, which acquired it for 10.2 million crowns. Some will remember that Entropa caused something of a scandal last year when it was unveiled in Brussels as part of the Czech EU presidency. It offended some in the manner in which it ridiculed national stereotypes – depicting Bulgaria, for example, as a Turkish squat toilet. Since then, the controversy has abated,
In this week’s Music Express my guest is the talented singer, rapper and composer Radek Banga, the frontman for one of the Czech Republic’s best-known bands Gipsy.cz. The four-member group first broke onto the scene six years ago and quickly rose to the top with an unusual mix of traditional Romany music crossed with rap, hip hop, pop and r n’b. They have only grown in popularity since.
The central Bohemian town of Kolín, some 60 km east of Prague, was the scene of an unusual ceremony on Sunday. Local enthusiasts unveiled a memorial to two cartoon characters – two bears, who allegedly met outside the town, and whose adventures captured the imaginations of several generations of Czechs since their creation in mid 1960s.
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