Praagse Lente + The Party and the Guests
Subversive, surrealist, energetic: there were so many extraordinary sides to the Czech cinema of the Prague Spring. The evening’s host Jaroslav Rudiš will talk to Michal Bregant, director of the Czech National Film Archives, and author Jan Novák. The evening is organized in partnership with the Czech Centre.
The Czech cinema of the Prague Spring was subversive in its resistance to rationality. The criticism was implicit: it would have been difficult otherwise, because although the films were against the system, they were still part of that same system, as all films were government-funded. An evening of films that reveal the many faces of Czech cinema around 1968.
The Flat Jan Švankmajer Czechoslovakia 1968A surrealist short film in which a man is stuck in a flat that defies the laws of nature. The glass he drinks from changes shape all the time and the walls attack him. A comical and yet sinister viewing experience.
Silence (Ticho) Milan Peer & Milan Maryška Czechoslovakia 1969The film was named after the titular song written by singer Bohdan Mikolášek that expressed popular feeling following the death of Jan Palach. The student set fire to himself in January 1969 in protest against the reversal of the Prague Spring reforms.
Oratorio for Prague Jan Němec Czechoslovakia 26'Jan Němec was a great admirer of and first-hand witness to the Prague Spring. In his documentary he wanted to document the road to freedom of expression as it was undertaken by socialist Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s. As he euphorically filmed the streets of Prague full of unprecedented enthusiasm and young people seeing a new world opening up, he could not suspect that everything would soon collapse following the Soviet invasion. Peace turning into violence and chaos, and hope crumbling into disillusion and emptiness are the real subjects of this film.
The footage of Soviet tanks clandestinely shot by Němec and his crew were smuggled out of the country and were immediately broadcast by the Western media.
Němec was forced into exile and would make a guest appearance in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is also screened by EYE.
The Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostech) Jan Němec Czechoslovakia 70' (21.15)A quiet picnic degenerates into a kind of sinister power play in this absurdist feature film by Němec. The Czechoslovak authorities saw this study of oppression and submission as open criticism of communism with its totalitarian agenda. The film was banned and only released two years later during the short-lived Prague Spring.
Fifty years ago, students, factory workers and filmmakers challenged the Establishment, from Paris to Mexico City, carrying not only bricks but also agile and light 16mm cameras.