The Czech Republic’s top film event, the Karlovy Vary festival, gets underway on Friday. As every year, it promises scores of movies from around the world and both Hollywood names and lesser-known but no less interesting guests. Ahead of the opening, I got some tips on what to watch out for during the 53rd Karlovy Vary’s from its artistic director, Karel Och. I first asked Och if there were any festival sections he would particularly like to highlight this year.
David Short first came to Prague as a student over fifty years ago. He remained for the best part of six years, experiencing at first hand the Prague Spring and then the Soviet-led invasion. He went on to become a mainstay of Czech and Slovak studies in Britain, over nearly four decades giving students at the University of London insights into the quirks of the Czech and Slovak languages. Since his retirement and with a bit more time on his hands David has focused on his work as a literary translator. It was in acknowledgement of his huge contribution
The two-day Metronome music festival kicks off on Friday evening at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds in Prague. Among the most awaited acts this year will be Massive Attack and Chemical Brothers. In addition to the main stars, people can see a number of local formations, such as the cult band Sexy Dancers, who are returning to the stage after 20 years. As final preparations were underway, I spoke to Metronome’s organizer David Gaydečka:
After a two-year break, the annual Landscape Festival will return to Prague over the summer months after launching on Thursday on Vítkov hill. Featuring a wide range of musicians and artists, the free festival aims to draw attention to forgotten public spaces and urban landscapes in the capital by transforming them into cultural hubs. The festival’s coordinator, Jakub Hepp, told me more about why Vítkov is seen as so special, and how the organisers intend to bring forgotten parts of Prague back into the spotlight.
The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading ensembles in the country, has embarked on their 12th tour of Japan, where they are scheduled to play over a dozen concerts. Just a few days before they set off on their journey, I caught up with the orchestra’s head Jakub Čížek and asked him for more details about the tour:
Lake Malawi are an indie-pop band formed in 2013 by the charismatic front man Albert Černý. The group further consists of bass player Jeroným Šubrt and drummer Antonín Hrabal. Among many other highlights, Lake Malawi played at major festivals in the Czech Republic, including Colours of Ostrava and supported Thirty Seconds to Mars and Mika at their Prague shows. In 2017, Lake Malawi released their debut album called "Surrounded by Light" and subsequently went on tour in the UK and in the Czech Republic.
An annual international opera festival celebrating the works of Bedřich Smetana – perhaps the most famous Czech composers of all time – kicks off on Thursday in the eastern Bohemian town of his birth. Now in its 60th year, the "Smetana’s Litomyšl" festival is a paradise for classical music lovers but also features everything from jazz to folk.
The first reunion of the classic lineup of The Velvet Underground took place in Paris in 1990, at a show also featuring the Czech band Půlnoc. Believe it or not, the VU performed for the first time in 22 years in large part due to a Prague rumour linked to Půlnoc that took on a life of its own. A recording of that concert – which took place 28 years ago this week – has now been printed up on vinyl by Ivo Pospíšil, who was closely involved in the events in question.
In the last edition of Czech Books we featured an interview with Zuzana Justman, who with her older brother and mother survived the wartime Terezín ghetto. Her brother Jiří Robert Pick later wrote a remarkable novel set in the ghetto, under the title “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals”. The book draws richly from his own memories; with an unexpected lightness and humour it tells the story of a teenage boy and the people around him – his friends and the older men sharing a ward with him in the ghetto infirmary. Thanks to Zuzana Justman