Czech it out

The best films of recent years from The Czech Republic will be shown at cinematheques around the country.

August 16, 2012 11:56
3 minute read.
Milos Forman

Milos Forman. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Contemporary films from the Czech Republic will be celebrated at the Czech Film Week, which will take place from August 19 to September 8 at the cinematheques in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rosh Pina, Sderot and Holon.

In the early 1960s, before the Soviet invasion, Czech cinema was one of the most celebrated in the world. Directors such as Milos Forman, who first came to international prominence with Loves of a Blonde (1965) and Jiri Menzel, whose film Closely Watched Trains (1966) won an Oscar, spearheaded a flowering of Czech cinema that paralleled the Prague Spring. Just as Israeli films are enjoying a renaissance today, in the mid-1960s Czech films won a large share of prizes at every international film festival. When the USSR cracked down on artistic freedom in Czechoslovakia, films were one of the most prominent casualties. But the last decades have seen a steady recovery in the Czech film industry, and its best films from recent years will be shown in this festival.

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The opening-night film is Long Live the Family, directed by Robert Sedlacek, which will be screened in the presence of the film’s producer, Radim Prochazka. This critically wellreceived film takes a look at a family struggling to make ends meet in the newly capitalist nation. Libor, the father, is a senior bank manager who has gotten into legal trouble.

Facing prison, he flees to the countryside with his family, and the movie tells the story of their bittersweet road trip. The film received four Czech critics’ awards in 2011, including Best Picture.

Prochazka also produced Robert Sedlacek’s 2006 film Rules of Lies, about how an isolated rehab program becomes a paranoid microcosm of a fascist state.

Prochazka directed a documentary in the festival, Catenaccio a la Drnovice, about the politics of soccer in the Czech Republic and how this affected a small town.

Flower Buds, by Zdenek Jirasky, is an another film about a troubled family adrift in a world they can’t make sense of. In this film, the family lives in a small town, and its members all vow to change or make new starts, all except for one man, who is addicted to slot machines.

Jakob Kroner’s Love is about a small-time hood who changes when he falls in love. However, he pulls off one last big score to have the money to pursue the woman of his dreams.

In honor of Milos Forman’s 80th birthday, the documentary about the acclaimed director, What Doesn’t Kill You, will be screened.

Directed by Miloslav Smidmajer, it is an in-depth portrait of Forman, who was an integral part of the Czech film industry in the 1960s. He then moved to the US and was a spectacular success, winning Oscars for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. He also made the high-profile films Man in the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as comedian Andy Kaufman; Ragtime; Hair; and The People vs. Larry Flynt. Some criticized him for leaving Prague, while others felt he should have moved back after the fall of communism. In the documentary, he talks about his choices and his thoughts on personal freedom.

Smidmajer also directed the feature film Waking Up Yesterday, about a troubled academic who can’t stay with a girlfriend for long.

Convinced that if he could get back together with his high school sweetheart he could make everything work, he finds a way to travel back in time to try to woo her again.

Generation Singles by Jana Poctova is a Czech spin on the frequent documentary subject of how to make relationships work.

The Czech Center in Tel Aviv and the Czech Embassy cosponsored the festival with the cinematheques.

For more more information, go to the websites of the individual cinematheques.

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