Czech out these classic films

The Ninth Czechoslovak Film Festival opened at the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Holon, Herzliya and Sderot cinematheques

Petr Zelenka’s ‘Lost in Munich’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Petr Zelenka’s ‘Lost in Munich’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Classic Czech and Slovak cinema, as well as the best contemporary films from the region, are front and center at the Ninth Czechoslovak Film Festival in Israel, which runs through August 31 at the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Holon, Herzliya and Sderot cinematheques.
This year’s festival will commemorate 100 years since the founding of Czechoslovakia as an independent state.
The opening night film Ice Mother (2017), directed by Bohdan Sláma will be shown later as well.
It tells the story of a depressed widow who finds love after she saves a man’s life. Its lead actress, Zuzana Krónerová, will be present at the festival.
Director Petr Zelenka’s 2015 film Lost in Munich is a black comedy about a 90-year-old gray parrot that lived with the French prime minister who signed the Munich Agreement. The chatty bird, which can still utter phrases he heard during the World War II era, is brought back to Prague decades later, where he is kidnapped by a Czech journalist. This film is being shown to mark the 70th anniversary of the Munich Agreement.
The classics to be shown at the festival are rarely screened in theaters, so this is the perfect opportunity for those who love Czech film, or those who would like to learn more about it, to see them on the big screen. Cinema from Czechoslovakia flowered around the time of the Prague Spring in the ’60s, then was crushed by the Soviet invasion, but has recently been making a comeback.
The festival features a tribute to Milos Forman and includes the late director’s 1965 masterpiece, Loves of a Blonde, about a female factory worker in a small town who falls for a jazz pianist from Prague. Two short films he made about music will also be screened.
Forman immigrated to Hollywood in the early ’70s and won Best Director Oscars for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus.
There is a retrospective of films by Ján Kadár, with five of his films to be shown. These include the Oscar-winning The Shop on Main Street (1965), co-directed by Elmar Klos. It tells the story of an elderly Jewish widow who owns a small shop in a Slovak town during the Nazi occupation, and the gentile man who is selected to take over the store. Václav Macek, director of the Central European House of Photography and a guest of the festival, will open the retrospective of Kadár’s films.
At the Terminus (1957), another film by Kádar, is about an apartment building in a Prague tram station in the 1950s that is a microcosm of Czech society a decade after World War II; Three Wishes (1958), the story of a young couple who are given the opportunity to magically make their dreams come true, but whose choices come back to haunt them; Desire Named Ananda (1971), about a fisherman who saves a beautiful woman from drowning and brings her home to his village, an act of kindness that has unexpected consequences as she starts to dominate his life; and Death is Called Engelchen (1963), the story of Pavel, a young partisan at the end of World War II who wants to find the SS commander responsible for the death of his comrades.
A film by Jiri Menzel, one of the great Czech directors, Larks on a String (1990), will be shown at the festival. It tells the story of several very different citizens put to work in a junkyard as a path to rehabilitation after running afoul of the government in the ’40s.
Czech Center Tel Aviv is the organizer of the festival, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic and Embassy of the Slovak Republic.
For the full program and to order tickets, go to the cinematheque websites or