Česká centra, Czech Centres

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1 Aug 2004 00:00 - 3 Oct 2004 00:00

Ahoj Kino! * Hello Film!

Comprehensive survey of Czech cinema.


The Party & the Guests

Sun 1 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1966/70 mins.  Dir: Jan Nĕmec.


Bursting with dark humour and sinister pleasantries, Nĕmec’s film of a party in the woods descends into brutality and intolerance.  Considered too politically inflamatory at the time, The Party and The Guests was labelled ‘Banned Forever’ by the Czech authorities.  Luckily, this incendiary allegory has returned and opens Chapter’s Czech season.


Chapter is pleased to welcome Dr Peter Hames, author of The Czechoslovak New Wave and Cinema of Central Europe, to introduce the film.



Closely Observed Trains 

Wed 4 - Thur 5 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1966/92 mins.  Dir: Jiří Menzel. 


One of the best known films of the Czech New Wave in the West, largely due to having won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Milos is a dispatcher's apprentice at a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia.  Oblivious to the war and the resistance movement growing around him, he longs only to lose his virginity.  Bumbling his way through a universe of frustration, eroticism, and adventure Milos becomes involved in a plot to blow up a German ammunition train...




Sun 8 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1963/77 mins.  Dir: Milos Forman.


A rare screening in the UK for Milos Forman’s early experimental drama-doc. Originally conceived as two separate student films, then later joined into one work, Competition tells the twin stories of a bored clerk’s desire to win a talent competition and leave the drudgery of her job behind, intertwined with the stories of two trumpet players in rival brass bands whose fates cross.  Forman was later to achieve popular success with The Firemen’s Ball, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest and Man On The Moon.


Also showing, The Kids From Famu (1990), a BBC documentary examining the influence of the Prague film school, FAMU on the careers of the New Wave directors.



Lemonade Joe 

Fri 13 - Sat 14 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1964/87 mins.  Dir: Oldrich Lipsky.


The untamed Wild West, saloons, dancing girls, bad guys with moustaches, a gun slinging lemonade salesman.  Every Western cliché is present and correct in Lemonade Joe, but this is a horse-opera like no other.  Taking the Western as its starting point and spoofing up a huge dust storm of invention, including a rainbow of tinting effects not seen since the silent days, Lemonade Joe rides into Chapter to save the day.



Marketa Lazarova 

Sun 15 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1967/162 mins.  Dir: František Vláčil.


Voted the greatest Czech film of all time by a survey of Czech film critics, Marketa Lazarova is a sweeping, poetic, richly detailed epic of the Middle Ages worthy of such praise. Bringing to mind the muddy-realism of Bresson’s Lancelot Du Lac, Vlacil distanced his film from the studio-bound fakery of most period cinema by insisting his actors lived as if in the Middle Ages during the making of the film, resulting in an astonishing and haunting authenticity.



Cutting It Short 

Fri 20 - Sat 21 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1980/93 mins. Dir: Jiří Menzel. 


This later work by Menzel (Closely Observed Trains) comes out of the post-New Wave, pre-democratisation period of Czech cinema and despite the rigorous censorship of the period still manages to keep the spirits alive with its rich vein of humour.  Concerning a local brewer’s attempts to keep his sensuous wife in check, the film mixes the best of Tati, the Keystone Kops and Chaplin.



The Apple Game 

Fri 27 - Sat 28 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1976/92 mins. Dir: Vera Chytilová.


The first of our mini-Chytilová retrospective (Prefab Story shows at Chapter in September), and the director’s first film following the reprieve of her official banishment from the Czech film industry in the early 1970s.  While more conventional in form and narrative than Chytilová’s earlier Daisies, The Apple Game still provokes with its unconventional feminist approach to sexual farce.




Sun 29 - Mon 30 Aug

Czechoslovakia/1966/74 mins. Dir: Vera Chytilová


As close to a pure rush of anarchy as the cinema has ever produced, Daisies is a non-stop 100 mph charge into giddy surrealist destruction.  Telling a tale of two bored and mischievous girls on a headlong mission for subversive chaos, Daisies rewrites the rules on film narrative and dispenses a dizzying kaleidoscope of film techniques and optical effects that have never been equalled.  Not to be missed!



The Long Journey 

Fri 3 - Sat 4 Sept 

Czechoslovakia/1949/78 mins.  Dir: Alfred Radok


Banned for over 40 years, until the fall of Communist rule in the Czech Republic, Alfred Radok’s The Long Journey (aka Distant Journey) is the definitive portrayal of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia.  Made only three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps by Radok, himself a Holocaust survivor, the film offers a rare Expressionist’s and often Absurdist view of the nightmare reality.



A Shop on the High Street 

Sun 5 Sept 

Czechoslovakia/1965/125 mins.  Dir: Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos


A more intimate treatment of the Holocaust is presented by co-directors Kadár and Klos in this tale of an elderly sweet Jewish eccentric whose shop is commandeered by a meek Slovak, reluctantly appointed the local Aryaniser.  Unable to explain to the old lady that she is no longer the proprietor of the shop, the Aryaniser finds himself playing the part of her assistant, yet pretending to the rest of the town that he is really in charge.  This bold black comedy was the winner of the 1965 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.



The Firemen's Ball 

Sun 12 Sept

Czechoslovakia/1967/73 mins.  Dir: Milos Forman


One of the true masterpieces of the Czech New Wave, Milos Forman’s The Fireman’s Ball is a dazzling comedy classic that delights with each viewing.  Telling a deceptively simple tale of the inept attempts of a group of elderly local fireman to organise a village ball, Forman creates a razor sharp allegory of the hypocrisies of Communist rule behind a wall of fabulous non-actors, poignant character observations and farcical situations.



Prefab Story 

Fri 17 - Sat 18 Sept

Czechoslovakia/1979/87 mins.  Dir: Vera Chytilová.


The third film in Chapter’s mini Chytilová season, following last month’s Daisies and The Apple Game, Prefab Story is set among the world of that familiar symbol of Eastern Europe, the prefabricated high rise block.  The film dissects a community of residents and workmen with a keen moralist’s eye as a new tower block is built, and while much of the action takes place around the building’s construction, like all of Chytilová’s work there is an undercurrent of destruction.



An Invention for Destruction 

Sat 18 Sept

Czechoslovakia/1958/81 mins.  Dir: Karel Zeman


One of the founding fathers of Czech animation, Karel Zeman produced this masterpiece of effects cinema which has delighted children and adults alike for decades.  An explosion of inventive animation techniques, like his later Baron Munchhausen, Invention of Destruction combines cartoon, live action and puppetry to create a seamless world of fun that remains faithful to Jules Verne’s vision in a tale of a mad scientist, balloons and a giant octopus.  The perfect Saturday afternoon treat!



The Ear 

Sun 19 Sept

Czechoslovakia/1970/94 mins.  Dir: Karel Kachyna.


One of the lesser known directors of the Czech New Wave, Karel Kachyna’s output refused to be bowed by political pressure to ignore the painful realities of Communist rule, and consequently is only just being seen again after a lengthy ban.  The Ear is perhaps his finest work, a bleakly funny film, as cinematically paranoid as Polanski’s Repulsion but with more reason to be so.  The Ear tells the Kafka-esque tale of a government minister and his wife’s night of fear following a party.  The night unravels into self-loathing, recriminations and a fantastic twist ending.  Showing in tribute to Karel Kachyna who died March 12 2004.


Chapter is pleased to present with The Ear, Vlastimil Ventzlik’s politically charged 1969 FAMU graduation film The Uninvited Guest, newly released after spending more than 20 years on the Banned Forever list.



Return of the Idiot 

Wed 22 - Thur 23 Sept

Czech Rep/1999/100 mins.  Dir: Sasa Gedeon


Closing Chapter’s Czech film season, and bringing our retrospective up to date is Sasa Gedeon’s clever reworking of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.  Frantisek has spent most of his life in an institution, but his sudden release into the outside world, like a modern Chauncey Gardener in Being There, is filled with wonder and revelation.  He returns to his family to observe and ultimately become entangled in their web of infighting, infidelity and painfully comic revelations.




Sun 3 Oct

Czech Rep/1997/102 mins.  Dir: Petr Zelenka


Buttoners is a rewarding series of bizarre and seemingly disparate vignettes that ultimately intertwine and cast fresh light on each other.  Spanning several time periods and continents, from 1945 Japan to late 20th Century Prague, and covering such seemingly disparate subjects as Hiroshima, punk, adultery, seances and psychiatry, Buttoners is a film bound by the laws of luck and synchronicity.


More info on www.chapter.org

















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From: 1 Aug 2004 00:00
To: 3 Oct 2004 00:00


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