A racist passage from a popular Czech children’s book recently sparked a heated debate in the Czech media after a Romany activist asked for it to be withdrawn from the school curriculum. Thousands of Czechs publicly opposed the request, which was also dismissed as unjustified by some Romany organizations. But others believe the issue of racist undertones in some Czech literary works should be taken seriously.
Kryštof Hádek first made waves nearly a decade ago when he played a fresh-faced young pilot in the World War II drama Dark Blue World. Since then the Prague-born actor has appeared in films of varying quality, though he has recently been enjoying a purple patch; Hádek won a Czech Lion award for his part in the acclaimed 3 Seasons in Hell, and was acknowledged as one of European cinema’s new talents when he was invited to this year’s Berlin Film Festival as one of its “Shooting Stars”.
For weeks now ads on billboards, the metro, and Prague trams have advertised one of the biggest exhibitions of this artistic season – work by the internationally-acclaimed artist Jiří Georg Dokoupil at Prague Castle’s Riding School gallery. Lasting until May, the exhibition ‘Dokoupil 100’ should absolutely not be missed.
The documentary Oko nad Prahou (The Eye Above Prague), which premiered in the city on Wednesday night, is about Jan Kaplický winning the contract to build a new National Library building in the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender. However, his futuristic design – nicknamed the Blob – soon met opposition from the president and others and the plan was abandoned. Tragically, the Czech-born architect died last year on the day his wife gave birth to their first child. I spoke to Kaplický’s widow Eliška Kaplický Fuchsová, who
The legendary Big Band of Czech Radio is celebrating 50 years of its existence. The history of the band goes back to the 1960s, when it was called the Czechoslovak Radio Orchestra. Over the years, the band cooperated with most of the country’s best known jazz and pop musicians. On Wednesday it will celebrate its anniversary with a concert at Národní Dům in Prague.
Joe Karafiát is a songwriter and guitarist with the legendary Czech underground rock band the Plastic People of the Universe. Karafiát, who has also played with groups like Garage and his own Joe Carnation Band, had first met the Plastic People’s Vratislav Brabenec in the 1980s when the two were living in exile in Canada, but didn’t become a member himself until 1997. When I met Joe Karafiát (53) in Prague last week, we first discussed his beginnings as a musician.
Alice Nellis, the writer and director of the awarding-winning feature Tajnosti (Little Girl Blue) will next week see the release of her highly-anticipated new film called Mamas & Papas, a story of four couples whose lives, intertwined, are changed through parenthood (or aspects of it), events both within and outside of their control: childbirth, adoption, abortion or loss. The couples, connected but also “atomized”, all deal differently with their situation to greater or lesser degrees of success – and no solution in the film is ideal.
A few weeks ago, the world celebrated the 200th birthday of one of the great composers of all time, Frederic Chopin, who was born just outside Warsaw in 1810. As elsewhere, Chopin’s anniversary year is being celebrated in the Czech Republic – and with good reason. Although in the course of his short life Chopin spent just a few weeks in Bohemia, his links to the Czechs are far from superficial. When he was a child, his first piano teacher was the Czech, Vojtěch Živný; many years later Chopin spent some of the happiest days of his life in the West
Filmy patří lidu (Films Belong to the People) is the title of a series of Socialist Realist pictures that have been released on DVD in the Czech Republic in recent months. These propaganda-filled films are from the 1950s, the harshest decade of the communist era, notorious for its brutal repression, show trials and forced labour camps.
After two years of reconstruction, Prague’s famed marionette theatre “Divadlo Spejbla a Hurvínka” is reopening its doors on Thursday. The newly renovated location is the home of the Czech Republic’s most famous puppets, the father-son pair of Spejbl and Hurvínek, and will also feature a puppet museum. Sarah Borufka reports.