Thanks to incentives, film projects realised in the Czech Republic brought in around USD 390 million to the economy last year, a record number that is double the amount raised in 2018, according to the Czech Film Fund. Aside from a return of part of their investment, producers also benefit from world-class film crews, a large array of well-preserved architecture and marked weather seasons.
In 2011, UNESCO proclaimed February 13 as World Radio Day. It is a celebration of radio as a powerful medium and its role in serving diverse communities of listeners worldwide and promoting their interests. To mark the occasion several partner radio stations held a debate on diversity and how it is reflected in their work. The debate was hosted by Radio Canada International and involved journalists from SWI Swiss.info, Radio Poland, Radio Romania International and Radio Prague International.
A new film called The Trap, which is due to premiere on Czech Television this Sunday, tells the tragic fate of the great Czech film and theatre actress Jiřina Štepničková who fell into a trap set by the communist secret police in the 1950s and was sentenced to 15 years in jail for attempting to flee the country with her four-year-old son. The communist hysteria surrounding the process was so great that many of Štepničková’s colleague actors and actresses signed a petition for her to be put to death for treason.
Prague City Hall is pushing ahead in its efforts to fight visual pollution in the Czech capital. After banning giant bubble blowers and ‘street artists’ wearing animal costumes from the city centre, Prague councillors have now focused on excessive commercial advertising and shop window design, which harm the visual image of the historical centre.
Screenshot, a new Prague art-house cinema and exhibition gallery, is the beloved brainchild of Iranian-born filmmaker and FAMU International grad Payam Razi, who stepped down as Radio Free Europe music editor in December to devote his energy to the “hybrid space”. All screenings, he says, are English-friendly “events” for film lovers eager for a festival-like, shared viewing experience. Screenshot is working with venerable Czech institutions such as the National Film Archive and Institute of Documentary film (KineDok) and the ongoing popular Írán:ci Film
Dcera (Daughter), the puppet stop-motion movie created by FAMU student Daria Kashcheeva has been nominated for an Oscar in the category “best animated short“. It would be the latest and most significant in a series of awards that the 15- minute production has assembled over the past year. Meanwhile, The Painted Bird, written and directed by Václav Marhoul has missed out on the nomination for “best foreign film“.
The ninth annual Írán:ci Film Festival, this year under the theme of ‘Escape”, gets underway on Wednesday. Ahead of the opening, I spoke to festival cofounder and artistic director Kaveh Daneshmand about how the event has developed over the past decade, what to watch out for this year, and filmmaking in Iran before the revolution and in troubled times today.
One of the most compelling and stylish Czech films of 2019 was A Certain Kind of Silence, the feature debut from Michal Hogenauer. The largely English-language work depicts a Czech girl who becomes an au pair in an unnamed Northern European state only to discover her host family are members of a sinister sect. When we spoke, the conversation took in the challenges of shooting abroad and the ways in which directors can pander to festival programmers. But I first asked Hogenauer about the inspiration for the story in A Certain Kind of Silence.