The Association of Czech booksellers and publishers has launched a new campaign called ‘Books without VAT’ in order to drum up support for the existing 15 percent rate to be slashed. The centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka is due to discuss the matter, possibly lowering the VAT on books and some other items to as little as five percent.
This Tuesday sees Czech-born author Milan Kundera, who has lived and worked in France since the mid-1970s, turn 85. Although the Czech media has reported extensively on the occasion, it is no secret the author of acclaimed novels like The Joke and Immortality, has a complicated relationship with his homeland, not allowing novels after The Unbearable Lightness of Being to be published in Czech.
Burning Bush, which explores the aftermath of the 1969 self-immolation of Jan Palach, recently swept the boards at the Czech Lion film awards. The Best Director prize went to Agnieszka Holland, while among those collecting a Lion for Best Film was producer Tomáš Hrubý. Though still students at Prague’s FAMU film school, Hrubý and his business partner have already notched up a string of successes with their company Nutprodukce.
The Brno band Poletíme? describes itself as an original banjo-punk-future-jazz-band. Established in 2007 by artist and musician Rudolf Brancovsky it soon became a regular at clubs and festivals around the country. Its songs are a colourful mix of genres and are based on witty and often shocking texts –what the band calls “simple songs about a complicated life”.
Events around the Czech Republic are commemorating internationally renowned author Bohumil Hrabal who would have turned 100 this day. On the occasion I spoke to the Czech-born documentary filmmaker and photographer Jan Kaplan, now based in London, who was just a student when he first met the writer. He then became closer friends with Hrabal in the 1990s, giving him a tour of London. He has now opened a new exhibition of previously unpublished portraits of Hrabal at Prague’s Lucerna Palace.
This Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the most significant Czech authors, Bohumil Hrabal, who died in 1997. Events commemorating the author of Closely Watched Trains and I Served the King of England, are being held at venues around the country. I took the opportunity to discuss Hrabal’s life and work with Jakub Chrobák, a professor and specialist on Czech literature at the Silesian University in Opava.
Tim Burton is known for distinctive, stylised movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Now aficionados can enjoy the director’s art at a new exhibition in Prague simply entitled Tim Burton and His World. Ahead of its opening, the filmmaker recalled a previous trip to the city – and taking inspiration from a Czech filmmaker.
This week we take a look at an established Czech band November 2nd, whose red-headed front-woman and song writer Saša Langošová combines rock, country and pop in her melodic and often fiery songs. Although it has not really found a place in the Czech mainstream music world, November 2nd has been steadily making music for over 10 years, exploring different genres and working with international big names like Suzanne Vega, Tchad Blake, Doug Yowell or Steve Walsh.
Three theatre groups from Prague, Budapest and London joined forces last year to create a multidisciplinary project called home:scape. Combining interviews, blog entries and a multimedia theatre performance the creators looked at the theme of home, trying to find out what defines that ambiguous concept for different people – those who had lived in one place their whole lives, and those who are in constant flux. I asked Jonathan Kennedy, the executive director of one of the theatre troupes - Tara Arts in London –how the idea for the project came
One of the most popular films at the recent One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague was Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. The story of the trial of three members of Pussy Riot for attempting to perform a protest song at a Moscow cathedral, it draws on interviews with their relatives and other members of the collective to create a vivid portrait of the controversial Russian group. Ahead of a screening I asked co-director Mike Lerner what had attracted him to the subject.