Film fans from at home and abroad have descended on the west Bohemian spa town Karlovy Vary for the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival which opens on Friday night. The festival will screen over 200 films, including seven international and two Czech premieres. Ian Willoughby is in Karlovy Vary for the event and I called him ahead of the big night to find out what would be the main attraction at the festival’s opening.
The centenary of the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s birth is being marked by film screenings, book readings and literary debates at home and abroad. One of the most original events has been organized by the Czech Centre in London – a groundbreaking literary experiment going under the name Cabaret Hrabal. Ahead of the big night I spoke to the head of the Czech Centre Tereza Porybná to find out more about the show.
The Czech government approved proposals on Wednesday to top-up a depleted fund designed to offer rebates of up to twenty percent to productions filming in the country. An additional 300 million crowns is being offered, adding to an already used 500 million allocated by the former provisional government. Commenting on the move, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the cash infusion would not only help bring in productions from abroad, but also aid the country’s image and economy. Dominik Jůn spoke with Ludmila Claussová of the Czech Film Commission
One of the more interesting bands performing around the Czech Republic this summer are Kon Sira, who play traditional songs of the Sephardic Jews as well as Balkan music. The group’s Kateřina Garcia herself has an unusually interesting background: Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha was her great-grandfather, while one of her grandfathers was a Spanish Civil War veteran who fled to Russia. Kateřina has lived in Spain and here in the Czech Republic but is now based in Dublin, where she teaches at Trinity College. When we met, I first asked where her
Dol Dauber was the central figure in one of the leading Czech dance or jazz band groups of the interwar years. Between Europe wide appearances, Dauber often headed the bill during the summer season at Mariánské Lázně’s plush hotels with the spa providing inspiration for many of his compositions. Dauber’s band also featured in several Czech film hits.
Among the small number of Czech directors in competition at the Karlovy Vary festival, which gets underway next weekend, will be documentarian Martin Dušek, with his latest work Into the Clouds We Gaze. The witty filmmaker, who comes from the North Bohemian town of Česká Lípa, suggests as the starting point for our tour of “his Prague” the place where he works. One of the city’s most distinctive Functionalist structures, it’s a large building by Vltavská metro station owned by developer Orco and currently home to rather rough and ready office
One of the Czech Republic’s iconic landmarks will be handed back to the Roman Catholic Church following a decision by the country’s custodian of historic buildings and sites, the National Heritage Institute. The decision forms part of the settlement with religious institutions following the confiscation of most of their property by the former Communist regime. Decisions about other significant sites are also pending.
Preparations are well underway for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which gets underway in the Western Bohemian spa town at the end of next week. On Tuesday the organisers revealed this year’s star guests, including Oscar winning actor-director Mel Gibson – who will receive a Crystal Globe for lifetime achievement – and actresses Laura Dern and Fanny Ardant. Soon after the announcement I discussed this year’s visitors with artistic director Karel Och. But I began by asking him to characterise the main competition at the 49th Karlovy
The new documentary Toman Brod: Praha – Terezín – Birkenau – Märzbachtal – Praha is the portrait of a Holocaust survivor who is today in his mid 80s. But what’s different about this feature-length film is that it was made by a schoolboy. Indeed, director Matouš Bičák was only 15 when he and his classmates – inspired by a school project – set off with Toman Brod to record his remarkable stories of survival in Nazi concentration camps.
This week’s Sunday Music show profiles a respected name on the Czech music scene -Dagmar Andrtova Vonkova. A self-taught guitarist, singer and song writer Vonkova seeks inspiration in folk music and draws on her own experiences, for a truly unique style that has captivated audiences at home and abroad.