Oct 4, 2015 - Oct 30, 2015
BOHEMIAN DELIRIUM: CZECH HORROR IN THE 80s AND 90s
As with so many Eastern European cinemas, Czechoslovakia’s flourished in the 1960s under relaxed censorship and state funding for wild experimentation on a level we can only dream of in the U.S. Before Soviet tanks rolled in, crushing the Prague Spring (and proposals for democratic elections) in 1968, the Czech New Wave had hit such international recognition as to have produced two academy award winners in the States, as well as more deliciously outré masterpieces like Vera Chytilova’s anarchic Daisies and Juraj Herz’s macabre satire of the lead-up to WWII THE CREMATOR.
But this series isn’t about the Czech New Wave, it’s about what happened after, when those same visionary directors refused to go away or give up their visions. For some, this ultimately meant fleeing to the West, but for Chytilova and Herz it would mean decades more of developing their art and fighting to get some of their best and most radical films made, first under Communist restriction and then against the new funding complications of capitalism. Chytilova was blacklisted from working entirely twice (for her work in the 60s, and again after her scathingly brilliant PANELSTORY, for about eight years total, during which she directed commercials under the name of her husband and cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera), while Herz’s career became a constant battle against compromise, bureaucratic red tape, and American directors borrowing scenes (as when bits of his own lived WWII concentration camp experiences may have made their way into SCHINDLER’S LIST).
Perhaps this is why both found success during forays into genre cinema in the 80s, where the official oversight was lower than in supposedly serious filmmaking. Perhaps this is why these films, sci-fi horrors both, are so uniquely strange and fantastic. (And, as a bonus, we’re also including Herz’s 90s nightmare vision of the post-modern shopping mall).
Chytliova passed away last year at the age of 85 after directing her last feature in 2006 and continuing to teach at FAMU, while Herz, now 81, is still at work on new films.
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From: Oct 4, 2015
To: Oct 30, 2015