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I, Olga Hepnarová is a drama based on the story of a 22-year-old woman who drove a truck into a group of strangers in 1973 in Prague, killing eight people.

August 16, 2017 16:48
3 minute read.
Czech Film Festival

Czech Film Festival. (photo credit: REUTERS)

One of the most enjoyable movie events of the summer is Czech Film Week, and this year it begins on August 21. It will run through September 5 at the cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Herzliya and Holon.

This program features the best of contemporary Czech cinema, as well as a tribute to the classic cinema of Karel Zeman, a master of imaginative movies from the 1960s and pioneer in the use of special effects.

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The opening film will be Petr Vaclav’s We are Never Alone, which tells the stories of eight people who live on a rundown stretch of highway. These diverse residents include a paranoid prison guard, an unemployed hypochondriac, a nightclub bouncer and a stripper in a story that mixes drama and comedy.

Vaclav’s previous film, The Way Out, about the difficult life of a young Romany couple, will also be shown.

Miroslav Janek, an acclaimed documentary director, has made the movie Normal Autistic Film, a look at several children diagnosed with autism. This documentary paints a rich portrait of each of them, with all their quirkiness and uniqueness.

These three films were produced by Jan Macola, who will be a guest of the festival.

Olmo Omerzu’s Family Film tells the story of children who go a little wild after they are left at home when their parents disappear while on a sailing trip around the world.

I, Olga Hepnarová is a drama based on the story of a 22-year-old woman who drove a truck into a group of strangers in 1973 in Prague, killing eight people. Directed by Petr Kazda and Tomas Weinreb, it won awards all over the world.

Doomed Beauty is a documentary about actress Lída Baarová, who moved to Nazi Germany before World War II. She was haunted the rest of her life by the affair she had with Joseph Goebbels and spent the rest of her life in exile. The movie was directed by Jakub Hejna and Helena Trestikova, who conducted an interview with Baarova in the 1990s, which is shown in the film. There is also rare archival footage of this egotistical star who derailed her career and her life.

Cédric Jimenez’s The Man with the Iron Heart is an English language film about the assassination of the top Nazi leader in Prague by two young Czechs. It stars Rosamund Pike, Jason Clarke, Jack O’Connell and Mia Wasikowska in a film that delves into both the rise of the Nazi leader and the plotting of the Resistance cell that ultimately took him down.

The program also includes The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, a 1961 film by celebrated director Karel Zeman. The movie, which was based on the novel by Gottfried August Burger, is a fanciful and visually stunning story of a modern-day astronaut who lands on the moon, where he meets a strange group of distinguished gentlemen that includes Cyrano de Bergerac, the heroes of Jules Verne’s Voyage to the Moon, and the blustering nobleman of the title. They take him on adventures that include a voyage to Turkey and a trip to an undersea world. Zeman has influenced many filmmakers, among them Terry Gilliam, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton and Jan Svankmajer. This is a great opportunity to see one of his films on the big screen.

Lukas Pribyl, the director of the Czech Centre Tel Aviv, one of the sponsors of Czech Film Week, writes in the program that Israel and the Czech Republic are coming close to a co-production agreement, so it’s possible that soon we will see some cinematic collaborations between the two countries. It’s an intriguing idea because in many ways Israeli and Czech cinema are similar in that they feature strong, character driven films made on shoestring budgets, and they connect with audiences around the world.

The Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Karel Zeman Museum, Little Prague and Prague Airport are among the organizations that make this film week possible.

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