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1 Feb 2006 00:00 - 25 Feb 2006 00:00

The Cinema of Pavel Juráček: From Kundera to Kafka

A season of one of the most original and controversial writers and directors of the Czech cinema in the 1960s.


Pavel Juráček (1935-89) was one of the ‘New Wave’ generation that also included Miloš Forman, Ivan Passer, Věra Chytilová, and Jan Němec. After studying screenwriting, he wrote scripts for other directors across a range of genres.  These included a realist adaptation of Milan Kundera’s No Laughing Matter, a fantastic tale for Karel Zeman’s part-animated The Jester’s Tale, and the science fiction subjects, Voyage to the End of the Universe and The End of August at the Hotel Ozone. He also co-scripted the world’s first interactive feature film, Kinoautomat; Man and His Home, which won awards at the World’s Fair in Montreal in 1967. His three feature films as director (A Case for the Young Hangman, inspired by the third book of Gulliver’s Travels; Josef Kilian; Every Young Man), however, with their realist sense of the absurd and dry humour, show a marked affinity with the world of Franz Kafka.


His refusal to collaborate with the regime established after the Soviet invasion of August 1968 led to his dismissal from the studios and, in 1977he was hounded out of the country by the secret police. He returned, a disillusioned man, in 1983 and died shortly before the fall of the regime in 1989.


Pavel Juráček was a highly original talent whose career is only now being reassessed. His diary (1959-74), which was recently published in the Czech Republic, became a bestseller and inspired Martin Šulík’s film The Key to Determining Dwarfs, or the Last Voyage of Lemuel Gulliver. This season includes all of Juráček’s films together with an interview with his son, Marek Juráček.


                                                                                                Peter Hames








Wed 1 Feb 6.10 NFT3

Fri 17 Feb 8.30 NFT3


The Dynamite Watcher (Hlídač dynamitu) + Black and White Sylva (Černobílá Sylva) + Ceiling (Strop)

Juráček provided the scripts for these three graduation films – directed respectively by Zdenek Sirový, Jan Schmidt, and Věra Chytilová. Contrasting in style, the first tells of workers organising sabotage during the Nazi occupation. In the second, a model socialist heroine, Sylva, escapes from her fictional world in order to meet her creators in the real one. ‘Ceiling’ draws on Chytilova’s own experiences as a model, using a mixture of ‘cinéma vérité’ and formalist method in what might be described as a proto-feminist style.

Czechoslovakia, 1960-61. 95 mins.



Thu 2 Feb 8.30 NFT3

Fri 17 Feb 6.10 NFT3


Every Young Man (Každy mladý muž)

In these two interlinked stories, Juráček draws on his army service in a way that recalls the realist and comic form of Miloš Forman in A Blonde in Love. Army recruits talk about women and play cards, showing as much interest in their practice war games as would the Good Soldier Švejk. A visit to town takes two soldiers into a strange and alienated world and the barracks dance leads to the arrival of a single dream woman. The film features a guest appearance by a budding dramatist – Václav Havel.

Czechoslovakia, 1965. Dir Pavel Juráček. With Pavel Landovský, Ivan Vyskočil, Hana Růžičková. 83 mins.



Fri 3 Feb 6.10 NFT3

Sat 18 Feb 8.30 NFT3


A Case for the Young Hangman (Případ pro začínajicího kata)

While driving his car, Lemuel Gulliver encounters a hare dressed in human clothes and finds himself transported via a mysterious tunnel and a car crash to the land of Balnibarbi. In this ambitious version of the third book of Gulliver’s Travels, Juráček takes us through a sequence of absurd encounters both to his hero’s past and to a world of trials and executions where machines do the thinking. It evokes the spirit of both Kafka and Lewis Carroll.

Czechoslovakia, 1969. Dir Pavel Juráček. With Lubomír Kostelka, Pavel Landovský, Miroslav Macháček. 102 mins.



Sat 4 Feb 8.40 NFT3

Mon 20 Feb 6.20 NFT2


The End of August at the Hotel Ozone (Konec srpna v hotelu Ozon)

Set after a nuclear holocaust, a group of young women wander through a desolate landscape searching for a man to father their children.  Led by an older woman, they have reverted to a world of primitive instinct and show a harsh contempt for life.  Jan Schmidt’s direction deliberately sets out to shock, with its bleak and pessimistic vision enhanced by a compelling music score from Jan Klusák.

Czechoslovakia, 1966. Dir Jan Schmidt. With Ondrej Jariabek, Beta Poníčanová, Magda Seidlerová. 80 mins.



Tue 7 Feb 6.20 NFT2

Sat 25 Feb 6.20 NFT2


Voyage to the End of the Universe (Ikarie XB 1)

A film that achieved a cult following in its English language version (cut by 16 minutes), the story is set in the year 2163 as a giant spaceship explores the worlds of Alpha Centauri and meets up with a craft that had departed earth in the 1980s.  Elaborately designed by Jan Zázvorka, and loosely inspired by the writings of Stanislav Lem (Solaris), the meeting with the corpses of the passengers and crew of an abandoned spacecraft looks forward to Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Czechoslovakia, 1963. Dir Jindřich Polák. With Zdeněk Štěpánek, Radovan Lukavský, Dana Medřická. 84 mins.



Thu 9 Feb 8.40 NFT2

Fri 24 Feb 6.20 NFT2


The Jester’s Tale (Bláznova kronika)

Set in Moravia during the Thirty Years War, this ironic tale recounts the story of Petr, a young peasant boy forced into the army, and Matěj, a recruiting officer, for whom one side is as good as the other. Karel Zeman’s mixture of animation and live action, romance and fairy tale, is familiar from such films as Baron Munchhausen and Journey to the Beginning of Time. Here he uses comedy and symbolism to recreate the images and thought of the time.

Czechoslovakia, 1964. Dir Karel Zeman. With Petr Kostka, Miloslav Holub, Emília Vašáryová. 83 mins.



Sun 12 Feb 8.40 NFT2

Wed 22 Feb 6.20 NFT2


No Laughing Matter (Nikdo se nebude smát)

Karel Klíma, a somewhat self-centred art historian, finds himself the subject of official interest, when he ducks out of reading a manuscript by an amateur scholar seeking publication. Adapted from a story in Milan Kundera’s Laughable Loves, Hynek Bočan’s film provides a compelling and witty account of life in an apartment block, where everyone keeps an eye on everyone else (sometimes ‘officially’), and of a hero whose ‘honesty’ sometimes leads him in strange directions.

Czechoslovakia, 1966. Dir Hynek Bočan. With Jan Kačer, Štěpánka Řeháková, Josef Chvalina. 94 mins.



Wed 15 Feb 6.15 NFT2*

Tue 21 Feb 8.40 NFT2


The Key to Determining Dwarfs, or the Last Voyage of Lemuel Gulliver (Klíč k určování trpaslíků aneb poslední cesta Lemuela Gullivera)

Adapted from Juráček’s diaries, Martin Šulík’s compelling portrait of an era features Juráček’s son, Marek, in the role of his father, and reconstructs episodes from the diaries, combining them with home movies and archive footage.

Czech Republic, 2003. Dir Martin Šulík. With Marek Juráček. 58 mins.


Josef Kilián (Postava k podpírání)

Juráček’s debut as director tells the absurd story of a man who borrows a cat from a cat loan shop for the weekend. The result is a strange journey through bureaucracy, in which the mood of Kafka is explicitly linked to the aftermath of Stalinism.

Czechoslovakia, 1963/Dir Pavel Juráček and Jan Schmidt. With Karel Vašíček, Consuela Morávková. 38 mins.


* followed by Q&A with Marek Juráček




Thu 16 Feb 6.30 NFT1


Kinoautomat; One Man and His House

Jan Rohac/Pavel Juracek/Vladimir Svitacek, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 63’


See www.kinoautomat.org


The first interactive cinema ever!








30 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QY London
United Kingdom


From: 1 Feb 2006 00:00
To: 25 Feb 2006 00:00


Czech Centre London

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