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26 Apr 2018 19:00

It's Gonna Get Worse with writer Jan Pelc and former dissident Karel Šling

A bold, raw portrait of youth adrift in 1970s Czechoslovakia. Based on the legendary 1980s cult novel by Jan Pelc with music by DG307 & The Plastic People of the Universe.

In the northern Czech provinces in the 70s, Olin, who has just been released from a psychiatric ward after he slashed his wrists in an attempt to avoid military service, throws himself into the world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll searching for freedom in the country’s social and cultural "underground" scene. As his dreams of a world where no-one orders him about and stops him doing what he wants to do are not coming true, Olin together with his long-haired friends decides to act and look for it in the West.

Inspired by the underground bestseller by writer Jan Pelc who himself immigrated to France, this is arguably one of the rawest testimonies of the Normalisation period which followed the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The authenticity of the experience combined with hard-hitting images, incredible performances by non-actors and music by underground bands DG307 and The Plastic People of the Universe ensured the book´s cult status transferred to the film which premiered to great acclaim at the 2007 International Berlin Film Festival.

Petr Nikolaev, Czech Republic, 2007, 86’
Cast: Karel Žídek, Radomil Uhlíř, Filip Kaňkovský, Tereza Hofová, Mirek Škultéty, Perla Kotmelová

Writer JAN PELC will discuss direct inspirations for the film such as life in the 70s Czechoslovakia, being part of the Czech underground and what it meant to be exiled in France while KAREL ŠLING will share his experience of growing up as the son of a
traitor’ and being part of the dissident movement centred around Charter 77.

Chaired by former BBC journalist IVAN KYTKA

JAN PELC (b. 1957) is a Czech writer and journalist. Having emigrated to France in 1981, he worked as editor of the quarterly journal Svěděctví in Paris, supervised by one of the most famous of Czech exiles Pavel Tigrid, while also contributing to Radio Free Europe programmes. Chief editor of Světlík Book Edition, he also co-edited the Czech samizdat magazine Vokno. After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, he moved back to his homeland focusing on his writing career.

It‘s Gonna Get Worse, Pelc’s most celebrated three-volume novel, was published in Germany in 1985, causing a heated discussion among Czech  émigrés – accusations were made about the book's pornography and lack of patriotism. However Jan Pelc came second in the 1985 Radio Free Europe contest for the most popular Czech writer. His further work includes  Fireless is the Underground, a remarkable journey into the history of the most famous Czech underground band The Plastic People of the Universe as told by one of its members (1992),  The Last Smoke (2006), and Kauai (2009).

KAREL ŠLING/SCHLING (b. 1945, London), son of Otto Šling, sentenced to death during the political trails in 1952 and an English mother, a pre-war member of the British Communist party, grew up in communist Czechoslovakia branded the son of a traitor. Following his father´s trial and his mother´s imprisonment he lived in internal exile in east Bohemia moving back to Prague in the 60s when his father was rehabilitated. He was actively involved in the student movement during the 1968 Prague Spring and following the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in the dissident movement, becoming one of the signatories to the Charter 77 petition in January 1977. Forced to leave his job as a head of accounts, he worked in manual jobs until 1984 when he emigrated to England to join his mother and brother.

IVAN KYTKA is a London-based long-standing contributor to Czech Television, the Impuls radio channel  and the  magazine Xantypa and co-owner of Blokmedia Ltd, a production company which among other things prepares documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

 £7 + booking fee
Booking via Eventbrite


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Goethe Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2PH


26 Apr 2018 19:00


Czech Centre

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