Česká centra, Czech Centres

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30 May 2009 00:00 - 1 Jun 2009 00:00

Czech Festival - Echoes of the Nine Gates

London Jewish Cultural Centre hosts three days of Czech and German Jewish culture season featuring film screenings, concerts, poetry reading and an exhibition.

Ivy House, 94 -96 North End Road, London NW11 7SX

020 8457 5000   


£5 per event or £20 for Festival Pass


Saturday 30 May

Film Screenings

Diamonds of the Night

9.00pm & 10.30pm


Sunday 31 May

Exhibition (open all day)

The Neighbours who Disappeared

Children’s Opera

Brundibar with the Disman Childrens’ Radio Choir

2.30pm & 6.00pm


Sephardi Songs and Short Film

With Jana Lewitová and Vladimír Merta

4.00 – 5.30pm


Monday 1 June

Poetry Reading with Gerda Mayer

5.00 - 6.00pm


Film Screenings

Love Your Enemies – 6.30pm

Living Dead – 8.00pm




Sunday 31 May

2.30 - 3.30pm & 6.00 -7.00pm

A children’s opera in two acts

with the Disman Children’s Radio Choir


Piano – Michal Macourek

Director – Zdena Fleglová

Music – Eva Svobodová &

Petr Mandel

Choreography – Ivana Helebrantová


The composer Hans Krása and the writer Adolf Hoffmeister wrote their children’s opera Brundibár in 1938. In 1941 the performance was rehearsed by Rafael Schächter as a gift for the fiftieth birthday of the director of an orphanage in Hagibor in Prague. The architect František Zelenka created a stockade made of planks on the stage, where he placed scenery flats with pictures of animals with holes in them for children’s faces. It was only performed twice in Prague, in secret, because by that time the arts were forbidden to Jews. In August 1942, Hans Krása was taken to Theresienstadt, followed by many colleagues and children.


Rudolf Freundfeld-Franěk brought a piano arrangement into the ghetto and took charge of rehearsals in the Dresden barracks. The transports constantly hampered work: child actors were taken eastwards to concentration camps and had to be replaced by children from new transports. After more than two months of rehearsals the premiere was held in the Magdeburg barracks on 23 September 1943. The opera was a great success and was reprised about 55 times, with one performance each week on average, until autumn 1944, when the final transports left Theresienstadt.


In spring 1944 the Theresienstadt ghetto made preparations for a visit by a Red Cross commission, which was to appraise it as a model ghetto Hitler gave the Jews. Brundibár was chosen for a performance. It was transferred to a large hall outside the ghetto, and František Zelenka was given materials to make Brundibár more beautiful overnight. The final scenes of Brundibár were then filmed in summer 1944 for a propaganda film, Theresienstadt, better known by the title The Führer gave the Jews a Town.


Sephardi Songs & Ballads & Film Screening

Sunday 31 May | 4.00 – 5.30pm

with Jana Lewitová and Vladimír Merta

The music of the Ashkenazi Jews has an affinity with Slav sentiment. The culture of the Sephardi Jews, once so rich, is today recalled only by the name of the Spanish Synagogue. Sephardi songs sound exotic. The music is emotionally charged and profoundly personal. We trace the routes along which the Sephardim flowed through Europe and the Middle East – from their secure position in the Spanish royal courts, where Jews had served as valued advisors, financiers, doctors and philosophers; they fell into the depths of despair as refugees. From there comes the drama, the duality of a song: a lofty arching renaissance melody becomes grief and lamentation. The high and low meet, as they have throughout the destiny of the people of the book. What remains for the isolated groups, eternally fleeing, other than song? The ballads bear the marks

of their creators sufferings. Their names are anonymous but not their experiences – the fates of women and lovers, sighs from captivity – so similar to the feelings of modern day refugees.



The Death of the Beautiful Roebucks

(Czechoslovakia 1975, 33 minute short student film)

This short film was made by Vladimír Merta, while he was still a student at FAMU. Based on Ota Pavel’s anthology, the film tells the story of Hermina and Leo, a

married couple, walking through the countryside near the Berounka River to find a summer appartment for themselves and their three sons. They take rooms with the family of a ferry man, Mr Prosěk, and enjoy the summer……….


Poetry Reading  with Gerda Mayer

Monday 1 June | 5.00pm

Czech born Gerda Mayer came to England at the age of eleven in 1939.  A well published poet; (Treble Poets 2, Knockabout Show, Monkey on the Analyst’s Couch

a Poetry Book Society recommendation, The Candyfloss Tree, A Heartbreak of Grass) her last collection was Bernini’s Cat in 1999.  Gerda’s autobiographical prose vignette, Prague Winter, was published in 2005. This describes the period between Hitler’s annexation of the Sudeten in September 1938 and his invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, from an eleven year old’s point of view


Diamonds of the Night

(Czechoslovakia, 1964, 64 minute feature film)                    

Saturday 30 May | 9.00pm and 10.30pm


The powerful and disturbing story of two young Czech men’s escape from a death camp seen through the eyes and thoughts of one of them. In repeated projections of dreams, fears and desires, his humanity gradually gives way to the animal, in proportion to the increasing presence of danger. As the men are hunted down the film presents a stream of consciousness, revealing the anxiety and isolation of humiliated humanity, the impossibility of mutual understanding and the sufferings of man as an alienated element in a hostile world.


Love Your Enemies

(Czech Republic 2005, 75 minutes, documentary film)

Monday 1 June | 6.30pm


A remarkable story of a Swiss woman and a Czech man who changed the lives and world views of hundreds of people. After World War ll, Přemysl Pitter (1895 - 1976) and Olga Fierz (1900 - 1990) rescued over 800 Jewish and German children from German concentration camps and Czech internment centers. For many of the children, the encounter with Přemysl and Olga was a decisive factor in their lives, both in terms of career choices and spiritual orientation.



The Living Dead

(Czech Republic 2008, documentary film with re-enactments)

Monday 1 June | 8.00pm


The Living Dead is based on accounts of Sonderkommandos in Concentration Camps – the prisoners assigned by the Nazis to handle those condemned to die and keep them calm. Sonderkommandos were themselves under a death sentence. They would work for three months and were then killed and replaced. Until recently it was taboo to talk to prisoners having to contribute to the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of their fellow prisoners. This remarkable and harrowing documentary reveals the horror and guilt that the very few surviving Sonderkommandos have had to live with for over 60 years.


30 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QY London
United Kingdom


From: 30 May 2009 00:00
To: 1 Jun 2009 00:00


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