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Program

Nov 23, 2014 - Dec 11, 2014

The Play’s the Thing: Václav Havel, Art and Politics

The program focuses on Václav Havel, the dissident and imprisoned dramatist who went on to become a world-renowned statesman as first president of the Czech Republic. This program is based on the places and people that Havel knew, from the influential Theatre on the Balustrade, where his theatrical career began, to his friendships with filmmakers of the Czech New Wave, and to his political ascendancy in Prague.


Film selection curated by Margaret Parsons, head of the film program at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Many of the films have been translated into English for the first time as a part of this project.

Václav Havel (1936–2011), the dissident and imprisoned dramatist who went on to become a world-renowned statesman as first president of the Czech Republic, changed the course of twentieth-century history by mixing theater with politics and peacefully ending communism in his country. His plays, filled with metaphor and pointed innuendo, exposed the failings of the system, and Havel became a hero in an epic struggle. This program is based on the places and people that Havel knew, from the influential Theatre on the Balustrade, where his theatrical career began, to his friendships with filmmakers of the Czech New Wave, and to his political ascendancy in Prague. Special thanks to the National Film Archive Prague, Václav Havel Library, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013, and Czech Television. 

Films selection:
1.evening
Life According to Vaclav Havel (Život podle Václava Havla, 2014, 72 min)

US premier of the new documentary about President Václav Havel directed by Andrea Sedláčková.
Q&A with Marta Smolíková, director of the Václav Havel Library and Šimon Pánek director of People in Need.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 6PM

2.evening
Every Young Man (Každý mladý muž)
Pavel Juráček, 1966, 83 min, Czech with subtitles
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 7PM

3.evening
Who Is Václav Havel...(Kdo je Václav Havel…)
Helena Matiášová, 1977, 11 min, Czech with English subtitles                                  

And the Beggar’s Opera Again (A znovu Žebrácká opera)
Olga Sommerová, 1996, 60 min, Czech with English subtitles                                  

The Heart above the Castle (Srdce nad Hradem)
Jan Němec, 2007, 48 min, Czech with English subtitles  
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 7PM                                          

4. evening

The Uninvited Guest
(Nezvaný host)
Vlastimil Venclík, 1969, 22 min, Czech with subtitles                                                  

Joseph Kilian aka A Person to Be Supported (Postava k podpírání)
 Pavel Juráček, 1963, 38 min, Czech with English subtitles                                     
Q&A with curator Margaret Parsons
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 7PM

 

About the films:
Every Young Man (Každý mladý muž)
Pavel Juráček, 1966, Czech with subtitles, 83 minutes
A soldier’s life under socialism is the focus of Every Young Man, Pavel Juráček’s absurdist drama in two parts. The first part follows a young recruit and his corporal on an outing into town to find a doctor (Václav Havel has a role as a patient awaiting treatment), while the second is set in an army camp, as young soldiers tackle their daily routines. The film ends with a heart-rending and unforgettable dancehall sequence.

The Uninvited Guest
(Nezvaný host)               
Vlastimil Venclík, 1969, Czech with subtitles, 22 minutes
When a boorish official enters and makes himself at home in a young couple’s flat, it’s soon apparent that all the flats in the building face the same dilemma—each has its own intruder. After completing this short parable on socialist living, director Vlastimil Venclík was forbidden to make a film for twenty years.

Joseph Kilian aka A Person to Be Supported (Postava k podpírání)
Pavel Juráček, 1963, Czech with subtitles, 38 minutes
In Joseph Kilian, a man searches for an old acquaintance in Prague. On a whim, he enters a state-run cat rental shop and leases a feline for a day. When his search for Kilian proves futile, he attempts to drop off the cat, but finds that the rental store has completely vanished. 

Who Is Václav Havel...(Kdo je Václav Havel…)
Helena Matiášová, 1977, Czech with subtitles, 11 minutes
Who is Václav Havel . . . 
is a short propaganda film, produced for the communist regime in the 1970s to disparage Havel, his plays, and his supposed wealth.

And the Beggar’s Opera Again (A znovu Žebrácká opera)
Olga Sommerová, 1996, Czech with subtitles, 60 minutes
Through Olga Sommerová’s creatively intercut film, two productions of Václav Havel’s Beggar’s Opera reveal the political dynamics of the former Czechoslovakia before and after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The dress rehearsal of the play’s world premiere in 1975 captures the stress of artists who conspired through theater against the totalitarian regime. The production is contrasted with the relaxed atmosphere of the dress rehearsal of the play performed again in 1995 by the theatrical group Divadlo na tahu at Havel’s cottage in the village of Hrádeček. Informal dialogue among the artists, Havel, and his wife Olga offers an intimate view of the changing tides.

The Heart above the Castle (Srdce nad Hradem)
Jan Němec, 2007, Czech with subtitles, 48 minutes
In The Heart above the Castle Havel takes director Jan Němec behind the scenes of the 2002 NATO Summit in Prague. Traveling into areas normally inaccessible and interviewing people normally unreachable (heads of state, for example), the footage shows a surprisingly “human side” of top politicians, capturing comical commentaries, hesitancies, and small stresses, and bringing the formal world of politics and the grandeur of NATO into the realm of the everyday.


Venue:

321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States

Date

From: Nov 23, 2014
To: Dec 11, 2014

Organizer:

Czech Center


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