Czech pop-singer Václav Neckář is perhaps best-known for his role of Jiří Hrma in the Oscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains by Jiří Menzel. He enjoyed his biggest popularity as a singer in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Golden Kids trio. Despite recently turning 75, Neckář continues to perform and sell out concert halls all around the country.
Cross the Line is the title of a new exhibition of Czech and Slovak contemporary glass design that runs from Sunday in the Czech House Jerusalem. The exhibition is a joint project organized in cooperation with the Czech Centre Tel Aviv and the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou. I asked the head of Czech Centre in Tel-Aviv, Robert Mikoláš, to tell me more about the exhibition:
In 2017 director Marie Dvořáková followed the likes of Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis and her compatriot Jan Svěrák in winning the Student Academy Award for her film Who’s Who in Mycology. When we spoke in New York, the filmmaker told me the short had a long gestation – and that she was currently working on not one but three new projects. But I first asked Marie Dvořáková what had drawn her to film in the first place.
Foreign filmmakers and TV crews spent nearly 5 billion crowns last year in the Czech Republic, a jump of nearly two billion crowns compared to 2017. With the state having paid out some 800 million crowns through an incentives scheme, the return on investment is solid. But competition is fierce – and heating up.
Czech folk-rock band Divokej Bill recently celebrated 20 years of existence with 18,000 fans cheering in a sold-out O2 arena. The band, which hails from the town of Úvaly near Prague, was founded by singer and guitarist Václav Bláha. Since 1998 it has released 13 studio records as well as a number of singles and music videos.
The founders of a project to educate Czech schoolchildren about HIV and AIDS, named in honour of the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, plan to take it worldwide. The phenomenal success of the new biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” has raised the project’s profile ahead of its global launch – which its founders say is a happy coincidence.
The band Lake Malawi will represent the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Tel Aviv in May. The indie-pop band, formed in 2013 by the singer and guitarist Albert Černý, garnered the most votes in the Czech national round, leaving behind seven other finalists. I spoke to Lake Malawi’s frontman about their success and I started by asking why they decided to take part in the Eurovision contest:
Award-winning screenwriter and director Ivan Fíla this summer added another titular feather to his cap – that of best-selling author – following the runaway success of his historical novel about the one Prague Spring leader who refused to sign the Moscow Protocol legitimising the Soviet invasion and onset of “normalisation”.
Though forced to live in exile for most of his life, the world-renowned pianist Rudolf Firkušný maintained strong Czech traditions at his home in the United States. Indeed, his daughter Véronique Firkusny’s mother tongue was Czech and today she translates leading authors from her parents’ homeland and helps opera singers get to grips with Czech-language works. When we spoke in New York, I first asked Véronique Firkusny how her father had viewed the situation in his native country following the Communist takeover of 1948.