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MADE IN PRAGUE: Hommage to Vojtěch Jasný

3 – 29 November 2015: The 19th edition of the Made in Prague Film Festival celebrates the 90th birthday and lifetime achievements of Vojtěch Jasný (b. 30th November 1925), an outstanding Czech filmmaker and the spiritual father of the Czech New Wave, whose work has had a profound influence on films like Edgar Reitz's Heimat and Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. Starting with a triple bill of his three Cannes Film Festival winners, it presents Jasný’s six key films from his 50+ portfolio shot in Czechoslovakia, Austria, West Germany, USA and Canada demonstrating the width and diversity of his filmmaking and his distinctive auteur flavour, poetic style and spiritual values while launching the Second Run DVD release of his Magnum Opus All My Good Countrymen, banned for more than 20 years.

Film is my message and I will do it until I die, when my job is done my time to go will arrive.
Vojtěch Jasný

Highlighting the Czech period of Jasný’s work, the season starts with a trio of films shot in Czechoslovakia. Starting his career in the ‘50s as a maker of propaganda documentary films, it was Jasný´s second solo feature Desire (1958) which hailed the arrival of a distinctive auteur filmmaker. A film poem full of symbolism and poetic beauty, Desire follows the cycle of life from birth to death in four separate stories entitled spring, summer, autumn and winter. Jasný’s very first film to be screened at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, it was awarded the Best Film for Young Audiences. This was followed by the 1963 Special Jury Prize at Cannes for When the Cat Comes, the fairytale-style parable about a magical cat that comes to a small town and reveals the underlying nature of its inhabitants in visually stunning, colourful musical scenes. A provocative fantasy and a masterclass in the use of colour, the film launched Jasný’s international career but was seen back home as an allegory on the shortcomings of communist society and was later banned.

A similar destiny awaited Jasný’s masterpiece, the autobiographical All My Good Countrymen (1968). Shot during the elated atmosphere of the Prague Spring, the film chronicles the life of Czech villagers as they struggle to adapt and survive under communist rule against the backdrop of historical events after 1945. Acclaimed as a heartfelt portrait of the countryside and its inhabitants, the film won both the Best Director and the Jury Prizes at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. Following the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 it was immediately banned ‘forever’ and Jasný, no longer allowed to film, went into exile. The UK premiere of the digitally restored film will also launch the DVD release by Second Run DVD.

Kulterer (1974) and The Life of the Schizoprenic Poet Alexander März (1975), represent another period of Jasný’s work. Living in Austria and West Germany and working mainly for the public television companies ORF and ZDF, Jasný specialized in literary adaptations. A psychological drama, Kulterer is a successful adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s short story starring the celebrated Austrian actor Helmut Qualinger about prisoner Hans Fabian Kulterer, for whom prison becomes a place of self-fullfilment.  The Life of the Schizophrenic Poet Alexander März (1975), based on real reports and testimonies from psychiatric wards and scripted by Heinar Kipphardt, a leading exponent of post war documentary theatre, is a visceral critique of a repressive psychiatry and of the oppression of individuality.

In 1984 an offer to fill in for Miloš Forman at Columbia University, New York during the shooting of Amadeus started the third phase of Jasný’s career focusing mainly on teaching and documentaries. His documentary strand is represented in the season by Gladys (1999), an intimate time-lapse film which continues the life-affirming and spiritual themes in his work through the story of 100-year-old Gladys St. John-Colegrove. A five year long conversation with Gladys is intercut with street scenes of New York, multiracial crowds, changing weather and seasons resulting in an empathic portrait of an extraordinary woman and her city.

The films are complemented by a digital presentation of Vojtěch Jasný’s photographic work, based on his 2011 book Fotografie / Photographs which will be on display at the Regent Street Cinema. Courtesy of Vojtěch Jasný and the Moravian Gallery, Brno.

Czech Centre
The Czech Centre's mission is to actively promote the Czech Republic by showcasing Czech culture in the UK. Its programme covers visual and performing arts, film, literature, music, architecture, design and fashion. As well as hosting its own events, the Czech Centre offers support for other groups organising Czech related initiatives in the UK. It is a non-political organisation supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of a worldwide network of 21 Czech Centres. The Czech Centre is a member of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture). www.czechcentre.org.uk 

Made in Prague Festival
Now in its 19th year, the Made in Prague Festival (3 – 29 November 2015) is back with a month-long programme of Czech cinema across London. The main season of Hommage to Vojtěch Jasný is complemented by special events featuring Czech cinematic highlights of the last year.  Organised in collaboration with the Regent Street Cinema, the Goethe- Institut London, the Austrian Cultural Forum, Bertha DocHouse and Whitechapel Galllery.


Note to editors
1 More information: http://london.czechcentres.cz/programme/travel-events/made-in-prague-film-festival/
2 Participating venues: Regent Street Cinema, Berha DocHouse, Goethe- Institut London, Austrian Cultural Forum
For images and other press enquiries please contact:
Renata Clark, Czech Centre, 116 Long Acre, WC2E 9PA clarkova@czechcentre.org.uk tel: 020 7759 0072
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CzechCentreLnd  #MadeInPrague      
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/londonczechcentre
Web: www.czechcentre.org.uk



Sat 7 Nov, Regent Street Cinema, 4 pm, DESIRE (12)
Vojtěch Jasný, Czechoslovakia 1958, 90min, English subtitles
The cycle of life from birth to death represented by four characters in separate stories featuring spring, summer, autumn and winter. A film poem full of symbolism and poetic beauty, it fully deserved its 1958 Cannes International Film Festival win.

Sat 7 Nov, Regent Street Cinema, 6 pm, WHEN THE CAT COMES (12)
Vojtěch Jasný, Czechoslovakia 1963, 101 mins, 35 mm, English subtitles
Life in a small town is turned upside down when a magician and his bespectacled cat arrive in this 1963 Cannes Special Jury Prize winner. Perceived as an allegory of the shortcomings of Communist society it was banned ‘forever’.

Sat 7 Nov, Regent Street Cinema, 8.15 pm, All My Good Countrymen (15)
Vojtěch Jasný, Czechoslovakia 1968, 116 mins, English subtitles
Jasny’s lyrical film chronicles the saga of Czech villagers forced into collective farms by their new Communist rulers. In the wrong hands, law and power are used with unprecedented ruthlessness in this heartfelt portrait of the countryside and its inhabitants. UK premiere of the digitally restored winner of both the Best Director and the Jury Prizes at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. Q&A with actress Drahomíra Hofmanová

Sunday 8 Nov, Bertha DocHouse, 6 pm, GLADYS  (12)
Vojtěch Jasný, Canada 1999, 101 mins
An intimate time-lapse documentary about the unusual life and spiritual horizons of a one-hundred-year-old New Yorker.

Vojtěch Jasný, Austria & Germany (GDR) 1974, 77min, English subtitles
The life and suffering of the eponymous März, who, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, spends long periods in a psychiatric institution against which he rebels with small acts of refusal and poetry.

Thu 26 Nov, 7 pm, Austrian Cultural Forum, KULTERER
Vojtěch Jasný, Austria & Germany (GDR) 1974, 77min, English subtitles
An adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s short story about Hans Fabian Kulterer, a prisoner who, in contrast with the other inmates, sees prison as a place of self-fulfillment.


Tue 3 Nov, Bertha DocHouse, 6.30 pm, SUGAR BLUES (12)
Andrea Culková, Czech Republic 2014, 78’, English subtitles
Sugar is a drug and it can kill! An incredibly engaging and thrilling personal documentary about one mother’s fight against the global sugar mafia. Q&A with director Andrea Culková.

Sat 14 Nov, Whitechapel Gallery 2 – 6 pm, REALITY CZECH: THE CZECH AVANT-GARDE NOW
An afternoon exploring the avant-garde in Czech cinema and its current reincarnations. Screening of Libor Nemeškal's 2014 Czech Avant-Garde, original avant-garde films by Sasha Hammid, Martin Frič, Karel Dodal and  Čeněk Zahradníček, and contemporary works by artists Zbyněk Baladrán, Veronika Vlková & Jan Šrámek, Ján Mančuška, Tereza Bušková and Vladimír Houdek. With poetry reading by Stephen Watts.

Sat 28 November, 8 pm, Regent Street Cinema, MADE IN PRAGUE CLOSING NIGHT GALA: THE BEST OF THE BLANÍK BUREAU (18)
Marek Najbrt, Bohdan Sláma, Czech Republic 2014, 2015, 70 mins, English subtitles
The Best of The Blanik Bureau series, a hard hitting TV satire inspired by Czech politics and the British series The Thick of It. Full of strong language and parody it follows the lobbyist Tonda Blanik who manipulates Czech politics via his mobile. Q&A with director Marek Najbrt, actor Marek Daniel and members of The Blanik Bureau team

Sun 29 Nov, Regent Street Cinema, 2 pm, THREE BROTHERS (PG)
Jan Svěrák, Czech Republic / Denmark 2014, 90’, English subtitles
Three brothers set out into the wide world seeking adventure, wisdom and true love in this humorous musical take on fairy tales which combines the stories of The Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and The 12 Months.  Followed by an art workshop for children.

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