Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, a state body that oversees over 150 million metres of film, tens of thousands of movie posters and other valuable materials. When we met at a lively bar near the FAMU film school, of which Bregant was dean for six years, we discussed film preservation, digitisation and the future of the NFA. But the first topic of conversation was the foundation of the Archive way back in 1943: Were the Czechoslovaks unusual in realising at that time that their movies needed to be looked after?
Today’s programme will be dedicated to the Velvet Revolution which brought down the communist regime in November 1989. The events of November and December 1989 had a very distinctive soundscape: the rattling of the keys that thousands of protesters shook above their heads as well as slogans chanted by the crowds. But the soundtrack to the Velvet Revolution is much richer. A number of songs became unofficial anthems of the political change and the heady days of late 1989 are forever connected with music.
With Museum Night and Church Night having already become a tradition in Prague and some other Czech cities, this weekend the Czech Republic will live through its very first Theater Night. Theater halls and performance groups will offer a whole variety of programming indoors and in the streets on Saturday afternoon. For this week’s Arts, we had a chance to speak to Petra Pavlová, the director of the Arts and Theater Institute in Prague, which is organizing the country-wide event.
Přiběh kmotra (A Godfather’s Story) opened in Czech cinemas last month and has attracted both thriller fans and those who remember the turbulent 1990s, when Czech society underwent a major transformation but also saw the rise of organised crime. The story is both about underworld bosses who conducted illegal operations in the hundreds of millions and left a bloody trail in their wake and the cops who tried to stop them.
Director Tomáš Pilař is regarded as a coming man in the world of Czech opera. And the 25-year-old is already incredibly busy; this season he is working on more than a dozen different projects at opera houses in various corners of the country. When we met recently, we discussed the craft of opera direction, the state of the art form in the Czech Republic and his own ambitions. But I first asked Pilař – who is also a stage designer – whether he came from a musical family.
In this week’s show, we will listen to some music by a young singer named Debbi. She’s put out two albums before turning 20, and captured the attention of Czech, and even some international audiences with her husky voice and bubbly personality. Her music has given the Czech pop scene a bit more depth, a few more good songs in English and even a slightly retro dimension.
In a recent edition of Czech Books, we spoke to the Romany writer, Irena Eliášová. She mentioned that her novel, November, had been published earlier this year by an internet publisher. This inspired David Vaughan to find out more about Romany writing in the digital age, and he discovered that Czech Roma have embraced the social media in a big way.
This week saw the opening of a new exhibition in Prague by respected Czech photographer and filmmaker Martin Froyda entitled “New York Walker in Blizzard”. As the title suggests, the show (and accompanying book) features a collection of photographs of New York snowed under – arguably the only time life in the Big Apple slows down. The exhibition is on at the US Embassy’s cultural centre in Prague.
Look at some of the small town exhibitions currently underway and you can’t miss the trend – they all show vintage objects very often made up of stuff people find in their attics. The “out with the old and in with the new” fervor with which people cleaned out their attics just a few decades ago is long gone and families now treasure old family coffee grinders, foreign label-covered suitcases that belonged to seasoned family travelers or wooden weaving looms used by great grandmothers.
A new film sharing project that has just been launched in the Czech Republic hopes to become a game-changer in distributing movies on the internet. The project, entitled 31s, works in a way similar to illegal file sharing – but offers film fans a chance to pay for the content they download from the web. The start-up project has been backed by some players in the film industry – but others, including anti-piracy campaigners, remain highly sceptical.