The Czech Centres in London and New York are getting new directors this spring, with Přemysl Pela assuming control in the UK capital and Miroslav Konvalina taking the helm in the Big Apple. We spoke to both before their departure for the key branches of the Czech Republic’s cultural diplomacy network in the English-speaking world.
This May marks the centenary of the birth of Ladislav Sitenský, among the most celebrated Czech photographers of the 20th century. He’s perhaps best known today for his iconic World War II work documenting the Nazi occupation of his homeland and lives of his fellow servicemen in the RAF’s Czechoslovak 312th squadron. But for over seven decades, Sitenský – who was also an accomplished sportsman, essayist and novelist – lovingly turned his lens to the people and architecture of Prague and other European capitals.
Čtyřlístek or the Four-leaf Clover, a legendary Czech children’s comic magazine, marks its 50th anniversary this week. The comic series was named after its four human-like animal characters – Myšpulín the cat, Bobík the pig, Pinďa the rabbit and a dog called Fifinka. The first issue of the magazine was published on May 15, 1969. Since then, Čtyřlístek has enjoyed a cult following among generations of Czech children.
In keeping with tradition, the annual Prague Spring classical music festival kicked off on Sunday with a rendition of Bedřich Smetana’s epic cycle Má vlast, or My Country, which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s homeland. What makes this performance particularly poignant is that it was performed by a German orchestra formed by musicians expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII.
How did the working poor live in Prague during the Austro-Hungarian Empire? In the days of the democratic First Czechoslovak Republic? Under Communism? And what about the homeless of today? Two separate yet complementary exhibitions now at the City of Prague Museum take a novel approach to presenting the capital’s often forgotten, overlooked or unknown history of poverty and homelessness.
The Cannes film festival, which begins next week, is set to pay tribute to the late Miloš Forman, screening a restored version of the late director’s 1965 classic Loves of a Blonde as well as presenting the world premiere of the new documentary Forman vs. Forman. I spoke to the head of the Czech Film Center, Marketa Šantrochová, about the country’s involvement in the 2019 Cannes – starting with the presentation of Loves of a Blonde.
Michael Havas grew up in New Zealand but came to communist Czechoslovakia – the country his parents had escaped from – to study film. He has made over 50 documentaries in a career that has seen him work with director Jan Švankmajer and many more noteworthy figures. Indeed, I first came across him in connection with a letter protesting Brexit that he wrote to the UK prime minister and circulated to friends, including Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin of Monty Python and musician Peter Gabriel. But when we met I first asked Michael Havas about his family
The well-known Czech musician Ivan Hlas is celebrating his 65th birthday. The singer, songwriter and guitarist has been a fixture on the domestic music scene for over five decades. He started performing in the late 1960s with his friends from the Prague neighbourhood of Hanspaulka and enjoyed the biggest popularity in the 1990s, after receiving the Czech Lion for Best Original Score for Jan Hřebejk`s film The Big Beat or Šakalí Léta.
The Prague based Berg orchestra, known for its unique approach to contemporary music, has come up with a new project, called ‘Hudba k siréně’ or ‘Music for the Siren.’ The series of micro-concerts, performed live every first Wednesday of the month, incorporate Prague’s regular testing of sirens in the music.