The Normální Festival or Normal Festival features films about people with learning disabilities and films made BY the mentally handicapped, and this year’s edition – the fourth – has just got underway in Prague. Feature, animated and documentary films from the Czech Republic and abroad will be screened over the next four days at the city’s Aero and Evald cinemas. Normal Festival will also offer a number of music and theatre performances. At Wednesday night’s opening, I spoke to organiser Lenka Vochocová:
One of the greatest legends of Czech cinema, director of photography Miroslav Ondříček, turned 75 on Wednesday. Twice an Academy Award nominee, he made over 40 movies in the course of a career that began in the 1950s. His most successful works include the award winning 1984 film Amadeus, many successful English and American movies as well as films of the Czech New Wave of the 1960s.
Some of the most important Czech films since 1989 have been screened in a kind of mini-festival that has just come to a conclusion at the famed Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Six days. 16 films. 10 guest speakers. The series? The Ironic Curtain. Czech Cinema since the Velvet Revolution.
October 28 is an important holiday in the Czech Republic as the day that the Czechoslovak - and thereby Czech - nation was born out of the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. That moment of independence was the triumph of a hundred-year mission to rebuild a national identity out of a dozen generations of Austrian rule. It is called the Czech National Revival, a cultural movement that re-awoke interest in Czech history, gave a new lease to the Czech language and pushed Czech art, and particularly music, to the forefront of Europe. As we
Wednesday marks the 91st anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. In conjunction with that anniversary, the National Memorial on Prague’s Vítkov hill has just been officially reopened after extensive renovations. It was built in honour of the Czech legionnaires whose bravery in World War I helped pave the way for the creation of the state, and reflects much of modern Czech history.
The 13th International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava, the biggest event of its kind in Central Europe, gets underway on Tuesday. Over the following six days, it will screen more than 200 documentaries from all over the world including the most recent documentary by Michael Moore, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’. I asked the festival’s director Marek Hovorka to outline the programme.
Not long after moving to Prague at the start of 1991, Englishman Richard Drury began working as a curator at the Central Bohemian Gallery, previously known as the Czech Museum of Fine Arts, on Husová St. He has been there ever since. Remarkably for a foreigner, he is also chairman of one section of the venerable Czech cultural organisation Umělecká beseda. When we met, I asked Drury if it had been hard to find a place in Prague’s art world.
A couple of years ago in this programme we spoke to the young Czech novelist Petra Hůlová about her epic novel of life in contemporary Mongolia, “Paměť mojí babičce“ – which translates literally as “Memory for My Grandmother”. The book has just been published to considerable acclaim in English translation by Northwestern University Press under the title “All This Belongs to Me”. Since writing it back in 2002, Petra has been far from idle, publishing no less than four further novels that take us from inside the mind of an ageing prostitute to the steppes