For more than 250 years, a large Marian column stood on Prague’s Old Town Square. In 1918, it was torn down by an angry mob which saw it as a symbol of Austrian rule. Now, more than 100 years later, sculptor Petr Váňa is attempting to put up a copy of the Baroque structure at its original location. However, the Prague authorities are against it.
The biggest stars at this year’s Karlovy Vary film festival will be Julianne Moore, Casey Affleck and Patricia Clarkson, with Moore’s latest feature After the Wedding set to be screened at the opening ceremony on June 28. I discussed the main guests, his own personal recommendations and a special section this year devoted to early ‘90s Czechoslovak cinema with Karel Och, KVIFF’s artistic director.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Czech National Museum has rejected a gift of exceptional Chinese pottery worth some five million crowns. The museum also declined to send a representative at the weekend to an exhibition showcasing the pottery. While the museum rejected the gift on procedural grounds, the incident underscores concerns about opaque Chinese business practices and the communist country’s exercise of “soft power”.
Ida Kelarová is a singer, musician and choirmaster who performs some of the best Romany music to come out of the Czech Republic. Paradoxically it was years before she discovered her Romany roots and drew inspiration from Roma culture and music. Today this legacy has become an important part of her life and she works hard to help talented Romany children living in excluded localities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
A charity concert in support of the victims of the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka will take place in Prague’s Hilton hotel on Saturday. The event, organised by the Czech Centres and the Catholic Charity, in cooperation with the Czech Foreign Ministry, will feature the Zlín Philharmonic Orchestra led by Prague-based Indian conductor Debashish Chaudhuri. The proceeds from the concert will go directly to the families affected by the attacks.
Celebrated author, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker Jiří Stránský has died, at the age of 87. A former political prisoner, he led the Czech branch of the international PEN club after the fall of communism and later headed the state cinematography fund. He also dedicated himself to educating schoolchildren about the perils of totalitarianism – all the while nurturing an infectious optimism.
The 12 films contending for the Best Film Crystal Globe at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival have just been announced. They include works by hot young directors, as well as faces familiar to regular attendees at the Czech Republic’s biggest cinema event. However, when the festival takes place from the end of June there will be no Czech films in the main competition, which is something I discussed with KVIFF’s artistic director, Karel Och.