One of the most significant composers of modern times, Gustav Mahler, was born on July 7, 1860, in a small village near the eastern town of Jihlava where he grew up. On Wednesday, both places staged a jubilee gala celebration on the composer’s 150th birthday anniversary, attended among others by the Czech president.
One of the sections of the official competition at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is East of the West – a showcase for films from Eastern and Central Europe. This year, it features ten different films from countries like Armenia, Slovenia and Azerbaijan. Sarah Borufka talked to Lenka Tyrpáková, who works for the festival’s program department, about what East of the West is all about and what we can expect from it this year.
One of the most acclaimed books to be published in the last couple of years is the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel, The Glass Room, by the British writer, Simon Mawer. It is a book with more than a passing relevance to the Czech Republic, as the hero is a building that stands to this day on the edge of the city of Brno.
On Friday, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival once again kicks off in the west Bohemian spa town. In its 45th year, the country’s biggest and most renowned film festival will show 205 films, a quarter of which are world premieres. We hear from our reporter Ian Willoughby, who is currently in Karlovy Vary, about what we can expect this year and what the atmosphere is like there ahead of the opening ceremony.
Opposed, later persecuted – and finally forgotten. That was the fate of many Czech Catholic writers, who stood outside the literary mainstream. In one of Europe’s most atheist nations, the impact of these authors gradually diminished throughout the 20th century although in their heyday, in the interwar period, they managed to convey many original ideas and intriguing artistic expressions.
The former president Václav Havel has begun directing a film adaptation of his latest play, Leaving. The play, which premiered in 2008, deals with a politician's painful adjustment to a new life after retiring from politics. The 73-year-old playwright led his country for 13 years, but since his own political retirement has returned to stage work – and is now making his debut in film.
The name Pete Best became a synonym for nearly man after he was kicked out of The Beatles before they became the biggest band the world had ever seen. The group’s original drummer is currently in Prague to perform at an exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music entitled Beatlemánie, which features original memorabilia and documents how young people in Czechoslovakia, like their peers elsewhere in the world, were thrilled by the explosion of the Fab Four. On the eve of the show, I discussed The Beatles’ continued popularity with Pete Best.
One of the best known Czech visual artists, the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, was born in July 1860. To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Mucha Foundation is launching an exhibition called The Apotheosis of Love. The exhibit opens in Prague on Friday, before moving on to several other locations in the Czech Republic.
The 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival begins in the west Bohemian spa town next Friday. As an event, this year’s festival will no doubt be as big and colourful as ever. But the programme will be slightly smaller with “only” 180 films, around 30 fewer than usual. At the final pre-festival news conference in Prague, Karlovy Vary’s programme director Karel Och told me why.