Christopher Machell Festivals

Czech100: Our picks of the festival

To mark the centenary of the Czech Republic’s independence, the Czech100 Festival runs from 28 October to the 9 December, a celebration of Czech art, design, fashion, theatre and of course film. The Made in Prague film strand of the festival runs from 2-4 November.

Fans of the 1996 film Kolya, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, will surely be looking forward to father-son team Jan and Zdenek Sverák’s latest, Barefoot, adapted from Zdenek’s second world war-era autobiographical novel. Told from the perspective of eight year-old Eda (Alois Grec) as he and his family are exiled to the countryside, the war forms the backdrop to formative experiences. Pitched as a prequel to the Sveráks’ earlier film, Elementary School, it’s an intriguing proposition.

Meanwhile, billed as the Czech answer to The Thick of ItPresident Blaník sees a political spin doctor decide to run for President himself, rather than manipulate from the sidelines. President Blaník is director Malek Najbrt’s sixth feature, including the award-winning, Protektor which was the official Czech entry for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture not in the English Language. Tomas Pavlicek will lighten proceedings with his third feature, Bear With Us. A familial comedy of errors, the film centres around the contentious sale of a dysfunctional Czech family’s woodland cottage. Before they can bear to part with their beloved holiday home, they agree to spend one final night to say goodbye to the place.

The festival’s documentary category is promising, with the UK premiere of The White World According to Daliborek, the weirdly funny study of a clueless Czech neo-nazi. Vít Klusák’s film reviewed well at last year’s Karlovy Vary Festival, so there’s a great deal of anticipation for this one. Meanwhile Červená, Olga Sommerová’s biography of the legendary Czech opera singer, won the Czech Lion Award last year, and given its extraordinary subject matter, is not one to miss.

Rounding out the UK premieres is The Interpreter. Martin Sulík’s drama explores themes of blame and reconciliation and features the talents Peter Simonischek, most recognisable in the UK for his breakout turn in Toni Erdmann. For fans of animation, Jan Švankmajer’s Insects is a must, while Winter Flies, the third feature from director Olmo Omerzu and next year’s Czech Oscar entry, is billed as an unsentimental teenage road movie.

Made in Prague is part of Czech100, a festival of art, design, fashion, theatre and film celebrating the country’s cultural achievements, 28 October to 9 December.

Christopher Machell | @Dr_Machell