Vaclav Havel probably has a higher profile at the moment than at any time since he stepped down as Czech president almost five years ago. His first play in two decades has been published in book form, ahead of its planned stage premiere in spring. And this week has seen the opening of an exhibition entitled Vaclav Havel – Czech Myth, which is a kind of taster for a planned US style presidential library.
For most people in Prague and the Czech Republic, last Sunday was the Second Advent Sunday marking the middle of the four-week period before Christmas. In their homes people light the second candle on the advent wreath in anticipation of the coming holiday. But this past Sunday, another lighting ceremony took place in Prague as well.
The film Once was made on a budget of 160,000 USD and has been one of the surprise hits of 2007. In America alone, it has taken over 10 million dollars at the box-office. The tale of an Irish busker and the relationship he forges with a Czech immigrant in Dublin has won critical acclaim – and now a couple of Grammy nominations as well for its soundtrack. Marketa Irglova, the Czech female lead who composed some of the songs, stands the chance of becoming the nation’s first ever pop musician to win such a prestigious award.
It was the literary headline of the year, when Vaclav Havel’s first play for nearly two decades was published a few weeks ago and we can be every bit as sure that the first performance of the play next year at Prague’s Na Vinohradech Theatre, will be a huge event. When Havel became president after the spectacular fall of the communist regime in 1989, many predicted that he would never write again. The new play “Odchazeni” (Leaving) proves them wrong. Not only has Havel shown that he can still write, but he has also drawn directly from his political
Last week one of the Czech Republic’s most important artists, Milan Knizak - sculptor, painter, poet, head of the National Gallery and outspoken pedagogue - opened a new solo show (Recent Work) at Prague’s Manes Exhibition Hall. Dominant themes include Knizak’s take on the crucifixion as well as the Madonna with child, painted with a fresh, even punk sensibility and signature irreverence. Paintings include slogans, which some reviewers have called “urgent”, others “stinging”: slogans such as “I hate progress” or “I hate nature”, some in English,
The Czech Republic paid a memorable visit to a highly regarded culture venue in Brooklyn, New York, recently, when the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Cinematheque played host to the 'New Czech Films' festival. Leading representatives of Czech cinema such as director Jiri Menzel and actress Klara Issova came to Brooklyn for the event, which has now been running for eight years.
Prague’s Old Town Square is a location so full of historical sights that one almost doesn’t know where to look first. But at the moment, one of the landmarks, a monumental sculptural group on the north side of the square, is hidden from sight. The bronze memorial to the Czech church reformer Jan Hus is under scaffolding and covered by a tarpaulin because it is undergoing much needed renovation. The sculpture, unveiled in 1915, is the best-known work by the Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun.
Our guest for One on One this week is Scottish artist Stewart Kenneth Moore who has been living in the Czech Republic since 1994. In that time, he has built up a reputation as one of the city’s most capable artists and draughtsmen, who is particularly well respected for the portraits he has done of many members of the city’s business community. Besides painting, Stewart also has a keen interest in graphic design and his illustrations have been used by a number of publications, including Esquire and Elle Magazine.
Some time ago, several Czech newspapers and magazines started including film DVDs in their editions, following the example of various foreign publications.Earlier this year, the daily Lidove Noviny released ‘The Shop on the Main Street’, the first Czechoslovak Academy Award winning movie that I have since seen many times over. A brilliant psychological study, shot in 1965, the film is set in a small Slovak town during the Second World War and offers a thrilling yet chillingly calm view of the Holocaust. Another Czech newspaper, Mlada Fronta Dnes,