6-27 July 2016
SUMMER CINEMA. CZECH FILM SERIES
TIME: 10:30 pm
Summer has arrived and the CGAC is kicking off its outdoor cinema with a Czech film series, with movies that, for the most part, stem from the Nová vlna, or New Wave, of Czech film.
Over the course of the month of July, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the CGAC will screen seven titles from major Czech directors: Milos Forman, Jirí Menzel, Jirí Weiss, Karel Zeman, Karel Kachyna, Ivan Passer and Vera Chytilová. This series is sponsored in part by the University of Santiago de Compostela’s Modern Language Centre and the Czech Centre of Madrid, and is under the direction of Cineclube de Compostela.
‘In the mid nineteen-sixties, the Nova vlná movement became a driving European cinematographic force, on par with the Nouvelle Vague [French New Wave], although due to its greater proximity to Spain, the latter is more well-known on the Iberian Peninsula. This Czech New Wave was led by a second generation FAMU (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) students who developed a type of cinema with close ties to their nation’s historical, social and cultural context. This was the defining characteristic of a movement built by filmmakers with no clear-cut, shared direction and who, according to theorists, lacked a sense of group conscience. What united them was the aim to do away with the rules of socialist realism and their quest for new ways to fight back against the restrictions placed on artistic creation.
This volatile atmosphere, this current, gave rise to some of film history’s finest movies. A number of the most notable incorporate a surrealist plasticity, evident in Jan Svankmajer’s films and, in general, the animation genre (represented in this series through The Fabulous Baron Munchausen). The themes began, in tune with the new cinema of the era, to address daily life (Intimate Lighting, I’m Jumping over Puddles Again), as well as to tackle generational conflicts and youth problems while at the same time managing not to distance themselves from them (Larks on a String and Sedmikrásky [Daisies]). Some of the most salient, cross-cutting characteristics that are applicable to almost all of these films are the characters’ depth and individual morale in the face of the collective representation previously defended by the Communist system (Romeo, Juliet and Darkness); as well as the allegorical critiques of the political system (The Fireman’s Ball, Miloš Forman’s last film prior to going into exile) and the irony, lyricism, and emotion that these films exude, despite the harshness of the stories they tell.’
Cineclube de Compostela
Horĭ, má panenko! (The Fireman’s Ball)
One of the New Wave’s primary masterpieces and Forman’s last film in Czechoslovakia, this movie—filmed primarily with real fireman instead of actors—takes place during a ball at a fire station. Forman wanted to reveal some of society’s habitual miseries. It caused him a whole series of problems of various types, which also impacted his decision to emigrate.
Thursday, 7 july
Skřivánci na niti (Larks on a String)
Director: Jiří Menzel / Czech Republic, 1969 / Genre: drama /comedy / Duration: 94 min
In the city of Kladno, during the communist ‘rectification’ processes of 1950, a peculiar set of individuals who are victims of retaliation attend a foundry to recycle the remains of the old order and use them to create new tractors and machines. Of note is the film’s critical perspective and the hilarious dialogues that take place between a group of forced labourers composed of a professor of philosophy who is opposed to burning Western literature masterpieces, a public prosecutor who dares to stand up for the right of convicts to defend themselves, a musician devoted to the saxophone, considered an upper-class instrument, and a cook who refuses to work on Saturdays for religious reasons. The film also shows the faces, full of life, of a series of female prisoners condemned to forced labour for having attempted to escape across the Czechoslovakian border. Between these two groups, which are inevitable drawn to each other, is the silhouette of a dim-witted guard who is incapable of snuffing out the beautiful love story that blooms between the young cook Pavel and the prisoner Jitka.
Wednesday, 13 july
Romeo, Julie a tma (Romeo, Juliet and Darkness)
Director: Jiří Weiss / Czech Republic, 1960 / Genre: drama/romance / Duration: 92 min
Jiří Weiss directed this moving version of the mythic story of Romeo and Juliet, for which he won the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1960. During World War II, while the Czechoslovakian city of Prague was occupied by the Nazis, a young Czech student accidentally crosses paths with a Jewish fugitive, whom he decides to hide, risking his life and that of everyone around him.
Thursday, 14 july
Baron Prášil (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen)
Director: Karel Zeman / Czech Republic, 1961 / Genre: fantasy, science fiction, adventure, animation / Duration: 80 min
This film is closely tied to the successful film Vynález zkázy (The Fabulous World of Jules Verne), also directed by Zeman. In this version, the Baron Munchausen finds an adventure companion in a young astronaut named Tony. The romantic baron shares fantastic adventures with his friend: encountering Cyrano de Bergerac on the moon, where he also meets Jules Verne’s astronauts; kidnapping Princess Bianka from the Sultan’s palace; waging naval warfare and getting shipwrecked; traveling across the seas in the belly of a whale and even soaring high in the sky whilst caught in the talons of the incredible bird Roc; and conquering the heart of the beautiful princess.
Už zase skáču přes kaluže (I’m Jumping over Puddles Again)
Director: Karel Kachyňa / Czech Republic, 1971 / Genre: drama / Duration: 94 min
The son of the emperor’s horse trainer spends all his spare time riding horses. But after contracting polio, he ends up with a limp and is forced to spend a long period of time in the hospital undergoing various treatments for his problem. The protagonist’s disease does not prevent him from returning to his passion, horseback riding. His sheer will, faith in his dream, and loving family all help him overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers.
Thursday, 21 july
Intimní osvětlení (Intimate Lighting)
Director: Ivan Passer / Czech Republic, 1965 / Drama: drama/musical / Duration: 71 min
Two old friends reunite for a concert that is to be held at a rural location in the provinces. Petr, a city musician, arrives accompanied by his beautiful if childish wife to the home of Bambas, who has gotten married and built a house, where he lives with his parents, wife and children. Over the course of the weekend, the contrast between the urban and rural world—observed with a fine sense of humour—becomes evident, and the conformist horizon that dashes the dreams of youth and, ultimately reunites the pair of friends, is conveyed in a bittersweet tone. In this universe, which at times tends toward the absurd, the act of rebellion is experienced as a melancholy evocation without consequences that makes way for resuming the daily routine.
Wednesday, 27 july
Director: Vera Chytilová / Czech Republic, 1966 / Genre: black comedy / Duration: 74 min
While sunbathing in bikinis, two young girls conclude that if ‘everything in this world is spoiled, we must also be spoiled’. This activates the film’s driving mechanism: one after another come unconnected scenes where both protagonists play at being bad girls doing bad things in the world around them. They beguile older gentlemen in order to get free meals, they write and draw on the walls of their house, they improvise a dance at a cabaret club to boycott the performance currently on stage, and they tear apart a banquet prepared for someone else... By breaking with narrative linearity and employing a technique known as collage—both at the visual as well as the auditory level—Vera Chytilová manages to create a film that critiques contemporary society and women’s position in a world dominated by men. This metaphorical film, at once provocative and reflexive, was a symbol of the Czech New Wave in the nineteen-sixties.
Entrance is open to the public, free of charge. Films will be screened in original version with subtitles in Spanish. In case of rain, films will be screened in the CGAC’s auditorium. The CGAC’s canteen will be open during screenings, offering drinks, hamburgers, and popcorn to help you better enjoy our authentic summer film series.
DIRECTION: María Villamarín. Cineclube de Compostela
COORDINATION: Virginia Villar