Petr Kazda & Tomás Weinreb – Já, Olga Hepnarová AKA I, Olga Hepnarova (2016)

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Olga Hepnarova was a young, lonely lesbian outsider from a coldhearted family who couldn’t play the part society had chosen for her. Her paranoid self-examination and inability to connect with other people eventually drove her over the edge of humanity when she was only 22 years old. The film shows the human being behind the mass murderer. Guided by her letters, we delve into Olga’s psyche and witness the worsening of her loneliness.

Olga is a complex young woman desperate to break free from her unfeeling family and social conventions. With her Louise Brooks-like tomboyish looks she drags herself, chain-smoking, from one job to another until she appears to find her niche as a truck driver. Although she has female lovers she does not form a bond with any of them; instead she clashes, time and again, venting herself in wordless emotional outbursts and other behavioural extremes. Continue reading

Vera Chytilová – Pasti, pasti, pasticky AKA Traps (1998)

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From starburstmagazine
For anyone feeling a little squeamish, of vegetarian inclination or just full from a hearty meal, the graphic opening scenes of Traps (or Pasti, Pasti, Pasticky to give its original title) that feature pig castration may prove a little difficult to stomach. These images also feel burned into your retina somehow; a poignant, pre-emptive piece of filmmaking that becomes disturbingly relevant later in the film. For Czech new wave director Vera Chytilovà, filmmaking was a mission. She became a dominant force in the industry and was often described as a militant feminist, although she preferred the term individualist. Traps bears many of the hallmarks that justify both these labels, and even now remains both boldly ambitious and deeply flawed. Continue reading

Jirí Krejcík – Vyssi princip AKA Higher Principle (1960)

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SYNOPSIS from kviff.com:

Jiří Krejčík’s A Higher Principle, together with Weiss’s film Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (1959), was one of those Czechoslovak films at the forefront of what is characterised in literature as the second wave of war prose. After years of the schematism and trivialisation of heroic pathos, films were gradually appearing towards the end of the 1950s which treated the theme of war with greater intimacy, and the heroism of those who resisted evil and Nazi barbarity was not so apparent at first glance. Krejčík selected a story by Jan Drda written almost immediately after the liberation, whose short text he and the author considerably reshaped. Continue reading

Irena Pavlásková – Fotograf (2015)

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Quote:
This acerbic biographical comedy subtitled “I Think You Should Calm Down, Ladies…!” is loosely inspired by the life of renowned photographer and celebrity Jan Saudek, outstandingly portrayed by Karel Roden. The film, appealing in its theme and treatment, focuses on the maestro’s relationships with women, specifically the devoted Líba, who enjoys subtle yet complete control over Jan (her character is undeniably inspired by his former partner Sára Saudková). In addition to numerous indelicate scenes, the brief flashbacks also reveal Jan’s ill-fated past (conflicts with the police and state security agents, a nightmare from his childhood), and there’s also room for staging Saudek’s famous photographic nudes, for which the models were usually morbidly obese. Pavlásková also exposes the artist’s quirky personality, where exhibitionism and vanity go hand in hand with Saudek’s fragility and male naivety, and his desire to extricate himself from his private solitude. Continue reading

Tomas Hodan – Filmovy dobrodruh Karel Zeman AKA Film Adventurer Karel Zeman (2015)

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A biographical film looking back at the life, work and significance of the genius of world cinema. It reveals the inspiration sources of his work and looks into the kitchen of the film tricks pioneer. As an absolute solitaire in his field, he created his own world based purely on his imagination. He was a complete autodidact and is therefore not easily classifiable into any film wave or direction. This extremely hardworking, resourceful man and a perfectionist, yet always preserving the ability to see the world from a child’s perspective is without any doubt one of the most successful and celebrated Czech filmmakers in the world. Thanks to their inner poetry and sincerity, his films do not age. Continue reading

Vera Chytilová – Strop AKA Ceiling (1962)

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Quote:
Vera Chytilova’s fascinating 1962 film-school thesis is a protofeminist meditation on the fashion industry that draws on Chytilova’s experience as a model. The storytelling is a bit clumsy, arbitrarily juxtaposing scenes of the protagonist posing at a photo shoot and awkwardly interacting with some young men in a cafe. But many of the images ring emotionally true, even those that have since become cliches—like the sequence in which she wanders the street at night staring at shop window mannequins. The film’s best scene—of the model standing on the runway while the audience whirls vertiginously about—evokes the vacuous instability of a self that exists only in the gaze of others. Continue reading