Czech pop and country music legend Naďa Urbánková is celebrating her 80th birthday with a compilation of her most famous songs spanning decades. Some listeners may know her thanks to film roles in musicals such as ‘If a Thousand Clarinets’, where she appeared alongside other rising stars of Czech pop music such as Karel Gott, Waldemar Matuška and Eva Pilarová, to name a few. Urbánková also caught the eye of director Jiří Menzel, who cast her in his 1966 film Closely Watched Trains, which went on to win an Oscar.
Meda Mládková is one of those increasingly few people who have experienced the entirety of the past Czech century. She has also managed to leave her imprint on the period, becoming one of the country’s most important art connoisseurs. Ahead of her 100th birthday later this year, Kampa Museum is holding a number of events, including a play premiering on Monday.
Olomouc-based independent band Nylon Jail display their ability to rock out to the full on their latest LP, Irreversible Changes. On the record core members Jiřin Jirák and Roman Vičík (who split up a few years ago, only to reform) are joined musicians from the groups OTK, Priessnitz and Muff, as well as a girls’ choir. Nylon Jail were due to play on the Radio Wave stage at Prague’s Metronome music festival on Saturday as one of the contenders in this year’s edition of the Czeching competition.
For the past seven years, Denisa Haubertová Šedivá has been living in Brussels with her husband, Czech ambassador to NATO Jiří Šedivý, and their two children. While feeling a bit homesick, she decided to write an alphabet book that would work as a guide to Czech life and culture, covering all sorts of topics from fairy tale characters and nursery rhymes to history, art and design. The book is intended primarily for children, but with its beautiful graphic design and charming, black and white illustrations, it really engages readers of all ages.
Czech documentary photographer and curator Dana Kyndrová is perhaps best known abroad for her project ‘Woman between Inhaling and Exhaling’. Spanning several decades, it exquisitely captures the stages of a woman’s life, divided into seven themes – adolescence, maternity and family, work, fun, eroticism, faith, and old age. But as she noted on a recent guided tour of selected works now at the Czech Centre in New York, she is not ‘a photographer of women’.
Many Czechs remember the concert of American folk musician Joan Baez’s in Bratislava on 10 June 1989 as one of the signs of the approaching fall of communism. During the concert Baez openly expressed her support for Czechoslovak opposition groups and to Václav Havel, who managed to smuggle himself into the concert hall pretending to be a roadie. Her stay in Bratislava was closely observed by the communist State Security services, but they missed the Czechoslovak dissident who fit into his pretended role by carrying her guitar.
For more than 250 years, a large Marian column stood on Prague’s Old Town Square. In 1918, it was torn down by an angry mob which saw it as a symbol of Austrian rule. Now, more than 100 years later, sculptor Petr Váňa is attempting to put up a copy of the Baroque structure at its original location. However, the Prague authorities are against it.
The biggest stars at this year’s Karlovy Vary film festival will be Julianne Moore, Casey Affleck and Patricia Clarkson, with Moore’s latest feature After the Wedding set to be screened at the opening ceremony on June 28. I discussed the main guests, his own personal recommendations and a special section this year devoted to early ‘90s Czechoslovak cinema with Karel Och, KVIFF’s artistic director.