The National Library is currently holding a special exhibit of the work of the first printing press in Bohemia. The seven original works made by anonymous printers in Plzeň in the late 15th century have been out of the public eye for 34 years. Foremost among them is the Trojan Chronicle, which for more than a hundred years has been at the centre of debate over when Czechs first began printing.
My Neighbor, My Killer, which is being screened at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, focuses on local tribunals called Gacaca set up following the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Under the Gacaca system, the victims give testimony in front of their communities against the perpetrators, who in many cases live alongside them. I asked the film’s Anne Aghion what had drawn her to the subject.
Enemies of the People, one of over 100 films being screened at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, follows the journalist Thet Sambath as he tracks down and speaks to former members of the Khmer Rouge in his native Cambodia. The result is a series of groundbreaking interviews, including one with Pol Pot’s one-time right-hand man, Nuon Chea. The film’s co-director Rob Lemkin told me about Thet Sambath and his remarkable journey.
War and Love in Kabul, which is being screened at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, tells the Romeo and Juliet-like story of a couple who have loved one another since childhood but are prevented from living together because of social and religious conventions. Hossein has been left crippled after being recruited by the Taliban, while Shaima was sold into marriage to a man 40 years her senior. I spoke to the director of War and Love in Kabul, Helga Reidemeister, and first asked how she had ever found the subjects of
Mugabe and the White African, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, follows Michael Campbell, one of the few white farmers left in Zimbabwe after years of land seizures, as he takes the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe to court at the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Campbell wins his legal battle against the dictator, but at great cost to himself and his family. I spoke to one of the directors of Mugabe and the White African, Lucy Bailey.
The Irish poet Justin Quinn has been living in the Czech Republic for close to two decades. His latest collection of poetry, “Waves and Trees” has been translated into Czech, and he himself has also translated the work of Czech poets, such as Petr Borkovec, into English. I talked to Justin Quinn about translating poetry and how living away from his native country has affected the poetry he writes.
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.
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.