Jan Rybář has spent the best part of the last two decades at the sharp end of news reporting. As a correspondent he has travelled the world, witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by momentous political changes worldwide and a series of tragic and brutal conflicts in Europe and Asia. Still only 37, Jan has now brought together some of his experiences in a richly illustrated book. It translates as “Warriors, Terrorists and Other Lunatics”, a not entirely ironic title which reflects some of the extraordinary characters Jan has met
Most Czechs agree there is no other pop singer like Karel Gott, the famous Czech crooner known as the Sinatra of the East, who has won the country’s Cesky slavik (Czech Nightingale award) a remarkable 31 times. At 69, the singer is showing no signs of letting up. In fact, to mark his 50th anniversary in show business, he just kicked off a new tour in the Czech Republic this week.
Art historian Anna Fárová has, for over 60 years, worked tirelessly to catalogue and promote the great Czech photographers as we know them today. She was responsible for building up the Museum of Decorative Arts’ first photography collection, before being dismissed for signing Charter 77. She catalogued the complete works of František Drtikol, inherited the estate of photographer Josef Sudek, and worked closely with an exiled Josef Koudelka throughout her career. The art historian also struck up friendships with Arthur Miller and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
When most people think of games the first thing they probably think of are video games, with young kids or young adults lining up for the latest title for their Xbox or Playstation or PC. But increasingly in the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe the pastime of board gaming, yes board gaming (!), has found increased audiences. You may be wondering “What?” if you’re new to board games, but there is a world of designs and titles out there beyond old "classics" like Risk and Monopoly.
Charles Bridge, Prague’s most famous landmark, which last year celebrated its 650th anniversary, has been undergoing a major reconstruction since August. The Czech Culture Ministry’s heritage inspection team has now come to a shocking conclusion: the ongoing repairs have done the bridge more harm than good. The report, published on the ministry’s website, claims that the reconstruction has allegedly harmed the aesthetic and artistic value of the bridge.
The story of the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia is one of the most remarkable episodes of the first world war. It has now been captured in a new documentary entitled Accidental Army by the Czech Legion Project. The group's Chicago-based founder Bruce Bendinger was in Prague screening it last week, and he stopped by at Radio Prague's studios to discuss the Legions and their fascinating history.
In the twelve years since it was established, the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival has quickly become the biggest showcase of creative documentary films in the Central European region. Over 30,000 people attended 240 film screenings at this year’s event, which attracted high-calibre guests such as the American pioneer of “fly-on-the-wall” documentary Frederick Wiseman and the controversial Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl.
“Each of our lives can be unique, if we decide to live it in a unique way. Private films testify to the unique intensity of every moment of our lives. They capture private stories from our shared history.” This is the motto of an acclaimed cycle of documentaries by Jan Šikl entitled Soukromé století or Private century. The eight films in the series are based solely on private family archives, and their stories draw upon the memories of contemporaries and relatives.
Czech designer Jan Čtvrtník has been receiving a great deal of recognition around the continent recently for one of his nifty pieces of glassware, highlighting the issue of climate-change. Čtvrtník’s vase - depicting a shrinking lake - won an international competition in Amsterdam in September, and has now been lauded by British newspaper The Independent for its environmentally-aware design. I spoke to Jan Čtvrtník, who’s currently living and working in Italy, and asked him first about the inspiration behind his award-winning piece: