The Czech Republic has been known for its brilliant, quirky cinema for more than 50 years, and the Fourth Czech Film Week, which opens on August 18 at the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa cinematheques, is one of the highlights of the film year in Israel.
This year’s program features new films by some established directors, such as Jan Hrebejk and Bohdan Slama, as well as up-and-coming directors making their debuts. It includes the best of Czech feature films and documentaries.
Bohdan Slama’s Four Suns was one of the most buzzed-about foreign features at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Slama is one of the most important directors in the Czech film industry today. Born in the north of the Czech Republic, he has chronicled rural life in several films he has made during the past decade.
Four Suns is the story of a perpetual adolescent living in a small town, who is trying to raise his teenage son from his first marriage. The father finds himself jolted out of his complacent lifestyle when he realizes that his son is making the same mistakes he did. Klara Meliskova won the Czech Lion (the Czech Oscar) for her performance in the film.
Director Richard Rericha looks at slackers of an earlier era in Don’t Stop. Set in 1983, the film follows the punk scene in Prague, where a group of 18-year-olds are inspired by The Clash’s album London Calling to start their own punk band. This is the directorial debut of Rericha, a distinguished cinematographer.
Olmo Omerzu’s A Night Too Young is about two boys who join their teacher and two friends of his at his apartment for a night that changes their perspective on the adult world, and themselves.
Iveta Grofova’s Made in Ash is a gritty docudrama about a Roma girl from Slovakia who heads west and ends up in the Czech Republic, near the German border. She hopes to find work in a textile factory but ends up in prostitution, with German sex tourists who come across the border. Grofova worked in a textile factory herself and knows the world portrayed in the film. Short moments of animated cartoons illuminate the heroine’s inner life.
Michal Hogenauer’s Tambylless is another realistic drama about young people and crime. This one tells the story of a young man who has been in a juvenile detention center for committing violent crimes. He is released and returns to live in his parents’ home in a small village. He is ready to start a new life, but villagers who remember his crimes are still angry with him. And, to make things even more complicated, a reality TV show crew is filming him.
Jan Hrebejk has made a filmed adaptation of the later Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Garbage, the City and Death, based on the Prague Chamber Theater’s staging. This controversial play is about a prostitute who begins meeting a shadowy real estate developer who calls himself The Wealthy Jew and only wants her to tell him stories.
Love in Grave is a documentary about a homeless couple that lives in a cemetery in Prague, until they are kicked out by the police.
Among those responsible for creating this year’s Czech Film Week are Lukas Pribyl, the director of the Czech Centre Tel Aviv, and Tomas Pojar, the ambassador of the Czech Republic. Lecebne Lazne Jachymov, Karlovy Vary region, was also among the supporters.
More information about the festival is available on the websites of the cinematheques.
If you enjoy classic cinema, then you will have something to look forward to later this year, when there will be a festival celebrating the 1960s era of Czech film.