Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Velvet ®Evolution: The Best of Czech Cinema 1989-2009 from 7th November ...

Velvet ®Evolution

The Best of Czech Cinema 1989 - 2009

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the 13th annual Czech film festival presents an overview of the last 20 years of Czech Cinema. The festival presents the best films from the 'Velvet Generation' of filmmakers such as Petr Zelenka, Sasa Gedeon, Jan Hrebejk and Bohdan Slama as well as the older generation of directors like Vladimir Moravek and Vladimir Michalek and grand masters of Czech cinema Jan Svankmajer and Karel Vachek.



The season kicks off with a Gala Screening of The Karamazovs (2008) presented by its director, Petr Zelenka. Premiered at The Times BFI London Film Festival 2008, this adaptation of Dostoyevsky's story takes us to a steelworks in contemporary Krakow where a theatre company stages the play. Story lines from the real world, from the cast and a single worker who observes them merge as the film moves between alternating perspectives. Zelenka's Rotterdam Award Winner Buttoners (1997), a quirky mosaic of stories and eccentric characters, will also be screened during the festival.



Sasa Gedeon's beautifully observed, gentle comedy Return of
the Idiot (1999) about a young man who, upon his release from a mental hospital, becomes entangled in the revelations and conflicts of his distant relatives, is still considered by many critics the best film shot after 1989. David Ondricek's Loners (2002) on the other hand still gets a vote from young audiences all over the world who love the film's spontaneity, the characters' catch phrases and the off-beat music. The most prolific of the Velvet Generation of filmmakers is Jan Hrebejk. His black comedy Divided We Fall (2000) set in WWII and focused on the survival of ordinary people during the occupation has won him an Oscar nomination for Foreign Language Film and a place in this selection.

The older generation of film directors is represented by Vladimir Michalek and his film Autumn Spring (2001). This uplifting comedy about a retired couple is an actors' masterclass in the art of understated comedy. Successful theatre director Vladimir Moravek has created Bored in Brno (2003). This story of four couples looking for love on Saturday night became a cult Czech movie, a hit with critics and audiences alike. Little Otik (2001), a deliciously dark satire on parental love combining acted scenes with animation and full of nightmare visions represents the work of Jan Svankmajer. Another doyen of Czech cinema, Karel Vachek, is introduced to UK audiences by his four hour documentary essay Bohemia Docta or The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (Divine Comedy). The fringes of politics and mushrooms feature in this portrait of 'national character and soul' reflecting the shifts in Czech democracy after 1989.



Bohdan Slama, the most famous of the Velvet Generation of filmmakers, will open the festival on the 12 November with the UK premiere of his latest feature Country Teacher (2008). This is a beautifully shot, powerfully acted story of desire, responsibility, forgiveness and the need to belong. Bohdan Slama will also introduce and discuss Something Like Happiness, winner at the San Sebastian and Montreal Film Festivals 2005, in which three childhood friends search for their place in life.

After the fall of Communism in 1989, it took a few years for Czech cinema to adjust to a de-nationalised film industry and the new demands of the market. But by 2008, Czech films had achieved a domestic market share second only to France. Over the past twenty years, a generation of new directors has attracted critical attention, while some of the older ones have continued to produce highly innovative work. This selection includes many of the best providing a journey through a society in transition, but also one with a strong awareness of its cultural traditions.

Part of the Velvet ®Evolution season presented by the Czech Centre London. See www.czechcentre.org.uk

Organized in collaboration with the Riverside Studios, Prince Charles Cinema, Filmhouse Edinburgh and Polish Cultural Institute.

Velvet ®Evolution: The Best of Czech Cinema 1989 - 2009
with special guests – film directors Petr Zelenka and Bohdan Slama

7 November 2009, Gala Screening of The Karamazovs
Prince Charles Cinema, London

12 – 15 November 2009
Riverside Studios

11 November – 16 December 2009
Filmhouse Edinburgh


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