From April to June, the Czech National Film Archive will offer free online access to seven silent films with contemporary music, in the frame of ‘A Season of Classic Films’. The selection includes some of the first movies shot in the Czech lands, Karel Lamač’s films and performances by Vlasta Burian and Anna Ondráková. Some screenings will be followed by live discussion on topics related to silent film and its presentation.
The first screening of the Czech retrospective is Karel Lamač’s Bílý ráj (White Paradise, 1924, 73’) with music by multi-instrumentalist Tomáš Vtípil on Thursday 8 April, starting at 17:00 CET. In this film, Nina falls for the good heart and piercing eyes of an escaped prisoner and decides to help him visit his dying mother for the last time. An ingeniously written script and the involvement of ‘The Strong Four’ – one of the most distinctive creative teams to come out of Czechoslovak cinema: director and actor Karel Lamač, cameraman Otto Heller, actress Anny Ondra and screenwriter Václav Wasserman – contributed to the international success of the film and established Lamač and Ondra as major forces of early cinema. Other prominent figures of early Czech cinema participated in the production, such as Martin Frič and Gustav Machatý. The new film digitisation originates from a 35mm coloured restored print, for which a unique tinted and toned nitrate film provided source material.
The premiere screening on 8 April will be followed by the discussion ‘Classics Today’, which provides a framework for the entire Czech retrospective. What the term ‘classic’ means in architecture, music, literature and why using this term, will be some of the questions discussed by guests from various cultural fields and moderated by the General Director of the Czech National Film Archive, Mihal Bregant.
According to Curator Jonáš Kucharský, “Newly reconstructed film prints offer unique insight into the history of Czech cinema. The programme traces the development of early Czech film in all of its variety – from period blockbusters to marginal, quasi-documentary films. In response to the question of what constitutes a ‘film classic’ in the context of early Czech cinema, our series provides an ambiguous answer. It will be up to the audience to decide what this term means to them on the basis of the screenings and discussions”.
Films with new musical accompaniments will be added to the online series on a bi-weekly basis. The film screenings will be available on the YouTube channel of the Národní filmový archiv, Prague and on the Filmový přehled portal. A Season of Classic Films is an initiative coordinated by the Association of European Cinematheques (ACE) and supported by the EU Creative Europe programme. Twenty-two institutions from all over Europe, including the Národní filmový archiv, Prague, are taking part in this year’s free admission screening events, which aim to acquaint the public, younger viewers in particular, with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.
17:00 Bílý ráj / White Paradise (Karel Lamač, 1924). Music: Tomáš Vtípil. The film will remain available, after its premiere on 8 April.
19:30 Discussion: Classics Today
Moderated by Michal Bregant (Národní filmový archiv, Prague). Panelists: Paulina Reizi (Eye Filmmuseum, ACE), Gérald Duchaussoy (Festival de Cannes, Lumière Festival), Irena Lehkoživová (ViPer Gallery), Barbora Kundračíková (Museum of Modern Art, Olomouc), Tomáš Glanc (Zurich University), Jiří Tourek (Faculty of Humanities of the Charles University).
17:00 Films of Jana Kříženecký (1898-1911). Music: Jan Burian. With commentary by Jeanne Pommeau about the film restoration and the historical context of these early films.
19:30 Discussion: Early Czech cinema [mod. Matej Strnad]
6 May 17:00 Buď připraven! / Be prepared! (Svatopluk Innemann, 1923). Music: Wabi Experience.
17:00 Hříchy lásky / The Sins of Love (Karel Lamač, 1929). Music: Ožvold & Ožvold & Kratochvíl.
19:30 Discussion: Music for film
10 June 17:00 Milenky starého kriminálníka / The Lovers of an Old Criminal (Svatopluk Innemann, 1927). Music: Vojtěch Procházka.
17 June 17:00 Cikáni / Gypsies (Karel Anton, 1921). Music: Trio Neuvěřitelno.
17:00 Ukřižovaná / The Crucified (Boris Orlický, 1921). Music: Ondřej Dizzcock (Ondřej Bělíček).
19:30 Discussion: Acting styles in early cinema
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