Stanley ‘Robotman’ Povoda is the father of Czech robotics. After over half a century of bringing people’s old colanders, chandeliers and vacuum cleaners to life, Stanley has just become the subject of his first own retrospective in Prague’s Trafačka Gallery. Stanley (real name Marián) Povoda has been back in the Czech Republic for five years now, after spending most of his life in exile in North America. On a recent tour of his new show, Stanley told me where his passion for robots began:
The Czech illustrator and animator Zdeněk Miler has died at the age of 90. The artist was best known for the creation of Krtek (or Little Mole), a cartoon character loved by generations of Czech children that first appeared in the 1950s. Earlier in 2011, a plush toy of the animated character even went to space on one of the last space shuttle flights.
Ema Destinnová - or Emmy Destinn, as she became known abroad - was one of the greatest dramatic sopranos of the twentieth century and one of the most sought-after singers before WWI, thanks to her voice of exceptional richness, power, and control. She sang with the legendary Enrico Caruso and many other stars in the most prestigious opera houses in Europe and the United States, such as Bayreuth, Berlin's Hofoper, London's Covent Garden and New York's Metropolitan.
The Czech Republic’s Ride of the Kings – a tradition dating back centuries still practiced in south-eastern Moravia – was added at the weekend to UNESCO’s list recognising intangible cultural heritage. The ride – practiced in just four villages in the Slovácko region – refers to the flight of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus from Czech King George of Podébrady in the 15th century. Organisers had strived for years to see the tradition recognised and – following UNESCO’s decision – had every reason to celebrate.
This week’s Sunday Music Show is devoted to one of the country’s most prominent jazz artists –flutist Jiří Stivín. The 68-year-old musician, who is reputed to be able to play on a blade of grass, says the feel for jazz is something you are born with and some of the best renditions come from children who are as yet unspoiled by the constraints of a music education.
In this edition of Screen Czech I’ll be speaking to one of the most influential people in the Czech film industry – Ludmila Claussova, chairwoman of the Czech Film Commission – a one-stop shop for all producers looking to shoot here in the Czech people. She’ll be telling us about what the commission has to offer and gives some forthright opinions on the country’s much maligned film incentive scheme.
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.
Supraphon has been the main record label for Czech music ever since 1932, and has been a major force in bringing Czech music to the rest of the world. Now as the world goes online for music so too goes Supraphon. On Thursday, its new online service, Supraphonline, will begin offering a part of the company’s massive archive of more than 100,000 recordings to internet buyers, in what was intended to be the first such service in the country. Christian Falvey talked to the record company’s business manager Antonín Milata.