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The Czech Film Week in Zagreb

An analysis of contemporary Czech film production on the occasion of The Week of Contemporary Czech Film held in Zagreb from September 14 to 20, 1998.

The cycle of contemporary Czech film caused filmophile pandemonium which Zagreb has not seen in quite a while. Seven film by a younger generation of Czech authors who achieved success in the Czech Republic as well as abroad were: Akumulator 1 and Kolja by Jan Sverak, The Education of Girls in the Czech Republic by Petar Kolihe and The Wonderful Messed Up Years by Petar Nikolaev, the omnibus Twerps by Petar Zelenka, Conspirators of Passion by Jan Švankmajer and The Forgotten Light by Vladimir Michalek. Almost all the films reflect a cinematic maturity, quality schooling and a high degree of professionalism and inventiveness. This solidity is given to them by their old classics, excellent film schools, the exceptional Barrandov studio and good shots.

The least it gives them is a mass production, which is not any greater than Croatia’s average annual output. The central attraction of the program was the film Twerps (Knoflikara) by Petar Zelenka which is a cult film in festival circles. It is obvious that comedies are the Czech’s strongest point. Not only does Zelenka attest to this, but Jan Sverak, the author of Kolja and Akumulator 1, as well who reliance on the grotesque and stylization is very similar to the mentality of the generation of Croatian authors born around 1960.
The Week of Czech Film was a wonderful experience that the better films we want to make ourselves — like Czech films, are not beyond our reach.

Czech film has also undergone a transformation since it was completely internationally marginalized until two successes, Kolja and Knoflikara, did not put them back on the map. The films shown illustrate that Czech film was not sleeping: among those making films are primarily new faces. Sverak, Zelenka and the majority of directors from the Week of Czech Film are children of the films of the 90’s, and supposedly there are many of them. This is a signpost for how Croatia should raise the level of its production until it achieves a solid average of success. This means making more, cheaper films, giving projects to young directors and stimulating the middle generation. With this type of production politics we could expect a Week of Croatian Film that perhaps wouldn’t have a Kolja, but would be on the level of other Czech films.

Jurica Pavičić

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