The Mutual Inspirations Festival (MIF) is an annual initiative spearheaded by the Embassy of the Czech Republic, focusing on the mutual inspirations between Czech and American cultures and featuring each year an extraordinary Czech personality who has greatly influenced and inspired others through his or her work (MIF 2010-Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, MIF 2011-Antonín Dvořák, MIF 2012-Miloš Forman, MIF 2013-Václav Havel, MIF 2014-Franz Kafka).
The festival began as a pilot project of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in 2010, and branched out to the local DC community a year later. It continues to grow, reaching out to select cities across the United States. In the last three years, over 30,000 visitors have attended festival events throughout Washington, DC, alone.
The festival takes place at cultural, religious, and educational community centers through a variety of forms, such as music, art, film, and literature. Through the celebration of the work of many famous personalities and the creations of individuals they in turn influenced, the festival aims to depict this long tradition of transatlantic inspiration and interpretation as well as to foster new works.
Now in its fifth year, the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2014 celebrates one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century, Prague-born Franz Kafka. Through his writing, he opposed the mainstream society and explored themes of mystical transformations, alienation, and psychological cruelty in many of his novels and short works, such as The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle. Although he never visited, Kafka was also fascinated by America, writing an unfinished novel of the same name. So influential are his works that today’s term "Kafkaesque" is used to describe concepts and situations, filled with feelings of surrealism, helplessness and confusion, which are reminiscent of his writings. His works transcend time and even foreshadow the future. To Kafka, writing was his passion, his very essence: “All I am is literature, and I am not able or willing to be anything else.” This year marks the 90th anniversary of his passing.
Running from September–October 2014, the festival highlights events at prestigious venues throughout the Washington area, including the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Katzen Arts Center at American University, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, West End Cinema, Avalon Theatre, among others.
In tribute to Kafka’s monumental literary genius, the festival incorporates a variety of events, including theatrical performances, film screenings, concerts, lectures, and exhibitions. The Embassy has already held a number of events as a prelude to the upcoming festival in celebration of Kafka, including the gala Kafkaesque Affair, the lecture “Why Kafka? Why Now?” by Professor Emerita Evelyn Torton Beck, Ph.D.s, the concert Phoenix from the Ashes - Terezín in Words and Music, featuring pianist Judith Stillman and soprano Lori Phillips, as well as the exhibition Old Jewish Town Within Us by Mark Podwal, accompanied by the lecture “Recreating the Golem: From the Talmud to Kafka.”
Join us as we venture deeper into the works of Kafka and discover new threads of inspiration. Delve into Kafka this fall and be inspired! Stay posted on this website for upcoming events.