Jan Novák left Kolín in Communist Czechoslovakia a teenager in 1969. He emigrated with his parents to Chicago, where he studied and started to chronicle Czech life in the Windy City. In more recent years he has written screenplays for Miloš Forman, and a prize-winning fictional biography of fellow Czech-Americans, Josef and Ctirad Mašín. He is settled back in Prague for the medium-term teaching at the city’s film school, FAMU. When I met him in a café by the banks of the Vltava recently, I started by asking him about his first spell in this country,
Thursday evening sees the premiere of a Czech version of the play Performances by the Irish dramatist Brian Friel. It should be of particular interest to Czech music lovers, as Performances is based on an episode in the life of Leoš Janáček and features one of the last pieces the great composer wrote.
This is the second part of a special Czechs Today dedicated to the writer, journalist and filmmaker Zdeněk Mahler. Over the years, Mahler, who is 80, has worked at the Communist Ministry of Culture, Prague’s Laterna Magika Theatre, and with his life-long friend Miloš Forman on the film Amadeus. But what about more recently? Well, Mahler has spent the last decade researching the life and work of Czechoslovakia’s founder, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. He has made several TV documentaries about the first Czech president, and has even been elected head of
If you are a writer or translator in the Czech Republic, then about the biggest accolade you can get is a Magnesia Litera award. The eighth annual Magnesia Litera was launched on Tuesday, with organizers saying they had more than 320 new Czech releases to read their way through and judge. Awards are given for the best new Czech fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and translation, with the Czech public also voting for their own favourite book of the year. The winners will be revealed at a glitzy ceremony in Prague next month, hosted by Czech
Ivo Anderle operates Prague’s two leading arthouse cinemas, Aero, in the Žižkov district of the city, and Světozor, a few metres from Wenceslas Square. In recent years he has entered the distribution business with Aerofilms, whose biggest success to date has been the documentary Citizen Havel, recently voted best Czech film of the last two decades by a poll of industry figures in Reflex magazine.
Ask practically any inhabitant of the capital for directions to Czech Radio and you'll be pointed to an imposing functionalist building, tucked just behind Wenceslas Square. In this, and the neighbouring buildings, hundreds of 'rozhlasáci' crouch over computers, talk on telephones and read reports such as this in one of the numerous studios. But, as well as the mothership on Vinohradská Street, Czech Radio owns a surprising number of other, smaller buildings, scattered all over the capital, which are overshadowed, perhaps sometimes unfairly, by
As well as his famous paintings of pop culture icons, the US artist Andy Warhol also made scores of films, often single, unedited shots of his favourite people, or even somebody sleeping for five hours. Now a number of those films are on show in an exhibition entitled Andy Warhol Motion Pictures at Prague’s Rudolfinum.
The trailer for the 2007 Karlovy Vary Film Festival is a highly kinetic and graphic introduction told through various typefaces. It was also the first – and so far the last – break with the festival’s traditional practice of using directed pieces with actors. The ad is exemplified by several things at once: immaculate decorum, for one – it is about film and nothing but film. Hyper-minimalism for another: the entire video uses exactly five words: “Karlovy”, “Vary”, “International”, “Film”, “Festival”. And last, symbolism and sound effects that convey
For this edition of Czechs Today I met octogenarian Zdeněk Mahler, born and raised in Prague’s Industrial Vysočany district. Over the last three quarters of a century, Mahler has repeatedly found himself involved in some of the country’s best-known cultural exports. He helped prepare the famous winning Czechoslovak exhibit at the Brussels Expo in 1958, and lived and worked with a certain Miloš Forman throughout the period of the Czech New Wave.