Arnošt Lustig, one of the Czech Republic’s literary greats, has been giving salespeople a helping hand this week. Although still weak from an ongoing battle with cancer, Mr. Lustig put a smile on his face and spent a week behind the sales desk at the Franz Kafka book shop in Prague, attracting crowds of people who came to buy an autographed book and wish him well.
All that Glitters by Tomáš Kudrna is the only Czech film in the main competition at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague. The film is about what happens when Western investors take over a gold mine in a town in the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan which is also threatened by environmental disaster. I spoke to the director of All that Glitters ahead of its world premiere on Saturday.
Artist Zdeněk Sýkora, who turned 90 last month, is without question one of the Czech Republic’s most important painters, whose style over his long career developed from traditional landscapes to the abstract line paintings for which he is certainly best known. A retrospective of some of the artist’s best work – including Line No. 24 on loan from Centre Pompidou in Paris – is currently underway at Prague’s Municipal Library, a highly-respected gallery space within the city centre.
The film Taqwacore, which is being screened in the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, focuses on young American Muslims who have embraced rebellious punk rock music, leading to disapproval from some in their community. I spoke to its director Omar Majeed, who is himself Pakistani-Canadian, and began by asking about the origins of the style described in the film as “punk Islam.”
The National Theatre in Prague is hosting a gala performance in honour of the world-renowned Czech ballet dancer Daria Klimentová, who is celebrating twenty years on stage. Born here in the Czech Republic, she has been a prima ballerina at the prestigious English National Ballet in London for the last thirteen years. On Wednesday night, the National Theatre will be the venue of her 1000th stage appearance. I spoke to the dancer just before her rehearsal for tonight’s event:
The 12th One World (Jeden Svět) festival of human rights documentaries gets underway in Prague on Wednesday evening. Over eight days it will screen 101 films from 30 states around the world, while around 100 directors and human rights advocates are expected to attend. Every year One World chooses particular issues to highlight; on the eve of the festival, its new director Hana Kulhánková told me about this year’s focus.
Prague’s Charles University recently hosted an unusual marathon which tested the capacity of various machine translating systems. The annual event is part of the Euromatrix project, which aims to establish machine translation systems for all European languages. The participants had a week to translate some 12,000 sentences from various newspapers and news sites. In the coming weeks their output will be confronted with translations done by professional „human” translators. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Ondřej Bojar from the Institute of Formal and Applied
Anna Kareninová is a leading Czech literary translator and editor who also does the subtitles for a lot of the films that appear on the country’s cinema and TV screens. Many viewers would no doubt imagine that Anna Kareninová is a nom de plume, as it is the Czech version of Anna Karenina, the heroine of the Tolstoy novel of the same name. In fact, she told me at Prague’s Café Slavia, the name was assumed, not by her but by her father, after he fled from Russia in 1917.
While all eyes were on the awarding of the Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday, the main event in cinema in the Czech Republic came a day earlier with the awarding of the Czech Lions. This year ten Czech films competed in 13 categories. The film Protektor by director Marek Najbrt dominated, winning six awards on the night, including Best Picture.
It’s a long way from the Czech Republic to Yemen, but you can cover the distance of nearly 6,000 km between the Czech capital and the coastal city of Aden in less than an hour. All you need to do is to have a listen to the new album by the Prague-based band Al-Yaman. Entitled Insanyya, its music combines electronica and dub with Arabic acoustic instruments and folk songs.