For over a decade and a half, the Karlovy Vary film festival has been bringing works from the former communist bloc to broader international attention with its flagship East of the West competition. How has the industry in the region developed over the years? And what is the importance of East of the West to Karlovy Vary? I discussed those questions with its programmer, Lenka Tyrpáková.
One of the most discussed Czech films at the Karlovy Vary festival is Old-Timers (Staříci) by Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník. It’s based on a real story from the late 1990s of two men’s plot to kill a notorious Communist prosecutor, Karel Vaš, who four decades earlier had secured prison terms for them and the death sentence for several of their friends. I discussed the film with its directors, starting with Dušek.
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’.