Czech Cinema: The Old and The New

A festival representing the best new films from the Czech Republic over the last two years starts on the 8th November at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London. It is preceded by a rare showing of the 1967 film Marketa Lazarová, directed by Frantisek Vlacil and widely considered the best ever Czech film. Introduced by renowned Czech Cinema writer Peter Hames (with Mehelli Modi), the screening will take place at the Curzon Cinema, in London’s Mayfair, on 4th November.

Marketa Lazarová is set in the 13th Century and adapted from a 1931 best-selling novel by avant-garde writer Vladislav Vančura. Inspired by a true Middle Ages story of the conflict between Christianity and paganism, against the backdrop of the royal Bohemian town of Mladá Boleslav, it depicts the rival clans of the Kozlíks and the Lazars, particularly the doomed love affair between Mikoláš Kozlík and Markéta Lazarová. It was the most expensive film ever made in Czechoslovakia, taking three years to complete. For two years, the director took his cast and crew into the Šumava forest to live by primitive means, all claiming the experience was invaluable. The result was an experimental black and white avant-garde film with a multi-layered symbolic style. Though the film was enormously popular at home and the Czechs always holding it in high esteem, it has rarely been screened abroad and usually greeted with critical indifference.

The screening is to coincide with its release on DVD by Second Run

For the forthcoming New Czech Cinema programme click here

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