The 13th Mene Tekel international film festival against totalitarianism on
Sunday handed out awards for civic courage to leading personalities who
were persecuted for openly opposing the Nazi or Communist regimes.
The “Dame of Czech Culture” and “Knight of Czech Culture” awards went to writer and Holocaust survivor Erika Bezdíčková, writer and activist Helena Havlíčková, world-renown conductor Libor Pešek and rabbi, writer and playwright Karol Sidon, among others. Dissident singer-songwriter Karel Kryl was awarded in memoriam.
Awards were handed out at the Mene Tekel festival against totalitarian regimes at Prague's Vinohrady Theatre on Sunday to people who opposed or were persecuted by the Communist regime. The Dame of Czech Culture title was given to the internationally-renowned harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková and to the founder of hospice care in the Czech Republic, Marie Svatošová. Sculptor Otmar Oliva, violinist Eduard Vokurka and evangelical priest Svatopluk Karásek received the Knight of Czech Culture title. Minister of Culture Daniel Herman also awarded doctor Karola Hejlová and founder of the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague, Leoš Válka, who received the honorary title of Czech Culture Patron.
Awards were handed out at the Mene Tekel festival against totalitarian regimes at Prague's Vinohrady Theatre on Friday to people who opposed or were persecuted by totalitarianism. The Dame of Czech Culture title was given to actress Marie Tomášová and artist Helga Hošková-Weissová. The Knight of Czech Culture title was given to actor František Miška and artist Jiří Sozanský. Actor Karel Hašler and author Božena Kuklová-Jíšová were honored posthumously. Minister of Culture Daniel Herman gave Meda Mládková, founder of Museum Kampa, the honorary title of Czech Culture Patron.
Mene Tekel, a week-long festival focused on the totalitarian regimes of the past, gets underway in Prague on Monday. The festival, now in its 10th year, will focus on meetings with those whose lives were blighted by Nazism or communism and experts on those subject regimes, as well as including exhibitions, film screenings and other events. One of the highlights of this year’s Mene Tekel will be an awards ceremony on Friday at Prague’s Divadlo na Vinohradech theatre celebrating artists who resisted totalitarianism in their work or were persecuted for their beliefs.
A new exhibition dedicated to Jan Zajíc is set to mark the 45th anniversary of his self-immolation in response to the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops and the “normalization” period that followed. Entitled The Story of Jan Zajíc, it will open at Prague’s Carolinum on Monday as part of the Mene Tekel festival, before moving to the town of Šumperk, whose grammar school students put the exhibition together. Aged 19, Zajíc set himself on fire on 25 February 1969 as he felt a similar move by Jan Palach had failed to shake the indifference and apathy of Czechoslovak society.
The annual Mene Tekel festival began in Prague on Monday. In its seventh year, the festival commemorates political prisoners from the 1950’s and points to the dangers of totalitarian regimes. Mene Tekel is comprised of a number of exhibits, film screenings, discussions and meetings with former dissidents and prominent figures. One of the exhibits, entitled Letters from Siberia Written on Birch Bark, chronicles the tragic moments of Latvian history in the 20th Century.
Czech painter Jitka Válová died in Kladno on Sunday at the age of 88, the news agency ČTK reported. Jitka Válová worked together with her twin sister Květa they had their first exhibition in 1958. In her work, she focused on figural motifs she combined with natural and industrial elements. She was a leading member of the artistic group Trasa that was established in the 1950s. Her sister died in 1998.
Prague is remembering the long winter of Communism this week with an unusual multi-media festival called Mene Tekel. Hebrew for ‘the writing on the wall’, the festival – now in its fifth year - bills itself as ‘an international festival against totalitarianism, evil and violence’. Films, concerts, exhibitions and even reconstructions of Stalinist show trials are on hand in what the organisers say is an attempt to preserve the memory of the nation.