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CZECH VELVET 1989 – 2019

This November marks the 30th anniversary since the events of 1989 redrew political map of Europe, affecting lives of millions. In Czechoslovakia, the peaceful civic resistance which resulted in transforming political domination by one party into a pluralist democracy and made Václav Havel president, was called the Velvet Revolution. But how far have we come in last 30 years? Has our society changed much? And what has driven our personal stories since then? To respond to those questions and celebrate this momentous occasion, the Czech Centre London presents CZECH VELVET, a festival of arts, film, music & theatre, showcased at venues across the city, including Rix Mix, Regent Street Cinema, UCL and many others.

1 - 29 November 2019
Czech Centre London, Regent Street Cinema, Rich Mix,
ICA, UCL, Truman Brewery
@CzechCentreLnd  #czechvelvet
http://london.czechcentres.cz/programme/travel-events/czech-velvet/


The festival’s commitment and determination to individual freedom that the Velvet Revolution once represented remains vividly acute today and is imbedded in an artistically bold and creative expression of presented programme”, adds Přemysl Pela, Director of the Czech Centre

We kick the celebrations off with a 1989 The Velvet Revolution - The End of the Totalitarian Regime in Czechoslovakia exhibition, which brings together photographs of 13 leading Czech photographers capturing ground-breaking moments in modern Czech history, the demonstrations, the fall of the communist dictatorship and the exhilarating atmosphere that followed. Looking at those historical moments and their aftermath from today's perspective, the unique Touching 1989 project, which is part of the exhibition, combines videoed personal stories of Czech, Slovak, Polish and British people of all backgrounds and of all ages currently living in the UK into one strong voice, testifying to the changes we have experienced within the last 30 years.

Leading historian and political scientist Jacques Rupnik and multi-award winning documentary film director Tom Roberts re-visit their 1988 revolutionary Channel 4 documentary series The Other Europe, in which they captured countries behind the Iron Curtain just before it came down, and discuss the 'Other Europe' now in a debate after the screening.  A special November edition of Dash Café, a popular monthly event featuring conversation, live performance, film and music, will explore the long term impact of the 1989 revolution through the prism of artists, filmmakers and writers from across the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Speakers include Monika MacDonagh-Pajerová, diplomat, the author of The Velvet Revolution – 30 Years On and former spokesperson for the Student Strike Committee; Ondřej Štindl, journalist, writer, award-winning screenwriter and DJ; Tereza Nvotová, actress and director; and Zuzana Kepplová, columnist, writer and editor of the opinion section of the leading Slovak newspaper SME, will disscuss whether that extraordinary spirit of activism still exists today.

A major part of the festival is not-to-be-missed MADE IN PRAGUE, one of the UK's oldest national film showcases. It’s 23rd edition boasts an impressive array of seven UK premieres hosted by the Regent Street Cinema and ICA, all exploring Czech society today. The festival will open with Most!, an exhilarating and provocative portrayal of a local Czech community packed with politically incorrect humour, crude language and taboo topics which has won the hearts of the Czech audience and became the most talked-about show of 2019. Director Jan Prušinovský and screenwriter Petr Kolečko will discuss phenomenon of Most! after the screening. The lead actor Jiří Schmitzer and directors Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník will introduce and discuss the UK premiere of their comedy/revenge thriller Old Timers in which two ageing WWII veterans set out on their last mission to murder the communist prosecutor who once jailed them while in the compelling drama by Marek Škop, Let There Be Light, a father attempts to stop his son’s slide towards the extreme right wing. Amongst the highlights is also The Nagano Tapes, Olympic Channel documentary directed by the Sundance award-winning Ondřej Hudeček featuring the inspiring story of the Czech Republic men’s ice hockey team shocking victory at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, which is recognised as a defining moment and a source of national pride at a time of the country’s resurgence.

A special focus of Czech Velvet 1989 – 2019 festival is the retrospective of Helena Třeštíková whose time-lapse documentaries successfully capture their protagonists on the backdrop of political and social change. Her longest lasting project, A Marriage Story which has followed 35 years of ups and downs of a married couple firstly living in a cramped socialist-era flat in 1980 and after 1989 establishing a business and building a family house to match. It documents not only their personal story but dramatic changes which society experienced during that time. The guest of the festival, Helena Třeštíková, will introduce her latest film which was premiered at 2019 Cannes International Film Festival, Forman vs. Forman. In this revelatory collage of rare private and official archives, the Oscar-winning film director Miloš Forman muses on his love of film and freedom, revealing a courageous artist unafraid to question himself.

Infused with gentle irony, Velvet Havel, a bold cabaret-style musical which combines stylised live music with strikingly contemporary ideas from Václav Havel´s literary legacy, is about the life and work of a man with a unique personality, who thanks to the absurdity of real life becomes the first Czech presidentA winner of five major Czech Theatre Critics´ Awards, a playful contemporary musical Velvet Havel presents at full throttle one man´s daily struggle for truth and ideals, strips bare his fears, and reveals his loves and all that was so deeply human about him.S

And to finish on the high, the Closing Night Gala is Electronica: Vision of Sound featuring Floex & Tom Hodge, Mïus X Attaray Visual and NOON, Czech, Hungarian and Polish musicians of a new generation who join their forces for one-off experience fusing intricate electronics and dizzying visuals. 

 

LISTINGS

1989 THE VELVET REVOLUTION                                                                               
EXHIBITION
1 November 2019 – 3 January 2020, Vitrínka Gallery, Czech Centre

THE OTHER EUROPE: THE POWET OF THE POWERLESS
FILM & DISCUSSION
6 November, 7 pm, Czech Embassy Cinema

JAN PATOČKA – AND THE GROUNDS FOR POLITICAL ACTION
CONFERENCE
8 November, 9 – 5.30 pm

23rd MADE IN PRAGUE FILM FESTIVAL
FILM
8 – 10 November 2019, Regent Street Cinema

BARBORA BÁLKOVÁ @ MODERN PANIC
EXHIBITION
9 – 17 November, 11 am – 7 pm, Truman Brewery

HELENA TŘEŠTÍKOVÁ RETROSPECTIVE
FILM
15 – 16 Leeds International Film Festival
17 November, ICA
19 November, Czech Embassy Cinema

VELVET HAVEL
THEATRE
21 November, 8 pm, RICH MIX

DASH CAFÉ: EUROPE AND THE ELVET REVOLUTION – 30 YEARS ON
DISCUSSION
27 November, 7 pm, Rich Mix 

ELECTRONICA: VISION OF SOUND
MUSIC
29 November, 8 pm, Rich Mix

 

NOTE TO EDITORS:
More information: www.czechcentre.org.uk
For images and other press enquiries please contact:
Tereza Matysová comms@czechcentre.org.uk, 07768 935 361
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CZECH CENTRE LONDON
The Czech Centre's mission is to actively promote the Czech Republic in the UK. Our programme covers visual and performing arts, film, literature, music, architecture, design & fashion, science and innovation. As well as hosting our own events, the Czech Centre offers support for other groups organizing Czech related initiatives in the UK. We also seek to further enhance cultural and professional relationships between the UK and the Czech Republic through curatorial visits, media tours and artistic residencies; initiating and fostering creative dialogue among artists, scholars, scientists & innovators. The Czech Centre London opened in 1993 and is part of a worldwide network of 24 Czech Centres operating in 21 countries and on three continents. The Czech Centre is a member of EUNIC.


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