The Mutual Inspirations Festival 2012 - Miloš Forman has drawn to a close, but the achievements of the festival continue to resonate throughout Washington and beyond. The festival celebrated the Czech-American mutual cultural influences and, particularly, the work of the renowned Oscar-decorated director and great Czech-US personality, Miloš Forman. In the picture above, Cultural Attaché Robert Rehak, Public Relations Specialist Mary Fetzko, Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová, and Deputy Chief of Mission Jaroslav Zajíček hold a letter from the President of the United States expressing his congratulations for the festival.
On October 31, the Embassy of the Czech Republic presented the Star Extravaganza, the Wrap Party of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2012-Miloš Forman. The program included cocktails, appetizers, a raffle, and dancing with music provided by DJ Tom from Prague. Over 200 people in attendance came dressed as their favorite TV or movie star, including some vampires, zombies, and pirates to round out the evening. Some of the many costumes included Marilyn Monroe, Frida, Urkle from Family Matters, Zorro, the Smurfs, and some elaborate alien costumes, among many others. During the party, contributions were made to relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Embassy is particularly grateful to all who made a donation, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross.
The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center hosted a gallery talk with contemporary Czech photographer Ivan Pinkava on November 3, at 5 pm, as he presented his exhibition Remains, curated by Petr Vanouš. The black and white works employ generally comprehensible cultural codes to refer to the state of the human spirit of the individual in 'Western' culture. During the gallery talk, Pinkava discussed his genuine love for black and white photography and engaged the audience in the role of religion and culture in art. He revealed that his photography holds a duality. For almost thirty years, Pinkava has created his own, distinctive visual language, which can be identified with his thinking about the world. In 2004, the Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, mounted his biggest solo exhibition to date, accompanied by the publishing of his monograph Heroes. The current exibition Remains covers Pinkava’s work between the years of 1997-2011 and is on display until December 16, 2012. For more information about Ivan Pinkava, please visit www.ivanpinkava.com.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), in collaboration with the Czech Embassy and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), presented a memorable screening of director Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with a very special surprise in the Warner Theater on October 28, at 1 pm. Audience members were treated to a call from Miloš Forman himself at the event. The event also included the reading of a special letter from President Obama celebrating Czech and American inspirations through the acclaimed director. Following the screening, Melissa Bisagni, Media Initiative Program Manager at NMAI, served as moderator with panelists Pavel Jech, dean of the prestigious film school in Prague (FAMU); Josef Lustig, professor and filmmaker; and Katherine Ott, medical sciences curator (NMAH). The panelists addressed questions concerning the inspiration behind Forman’s film, the Native American experience as seen through the film, and mental health institutions. The film won five Oscars and catapulted Miloš Forman’s career into stardom.
The Czech theater group Geisslers Hofcomoedianten performed the Stilts Trilogy – a street theater performance comprised of three parts: The Astronomical Clock, The Player, and The Bird Catcher, at the Czech Embassy on October 20 and La Maison Francaise on October 21 to over 500 people. Children laughed in delight as the actors used music and witty banter to uncover stories from the baroque Kuks Castle. The event also included an exhibition on Kuks Castle in the Czech Republic. The performance, dedicated to Milos Forman’s childhood, was a part of the Kids Euro Festival 2012.
Director Pavel Štingl left an indelible impression on the lives of Washingtonians, as he presented his powerful and moving documentaries in the nation's capital. At the Library of Congress on October 17, he presented his film Four Pairs of Shoes (Čtyři páry bot), a portrait on the life of Jan Wiener who fled war-torn Europe during WW II. Štingl also showed his film The Story of the Shipwrecked from the Patria, at the Czech Embassy on October 18, as part of the Embassy's Film Club Series. The film is a fascinating reconstruction of a long dramatic boat journey taken by Jewish refugees from Central Europe to Palestine in 1940 - and the drama of their arrival. The film received the FIAT/IFTA Television Archive Award. Štingl is currently working on establishing a Holocaust Memorial in Prague.
The National Gallery of Art screened director František Vláčil's Valley of the Bees (Údolí včel) to an audience of over 300 people on October 13 at 2 pm, in the East Building Auditorium. Vláčil remains one of the most prominent filmmakers of all time in the Czech Republic. His work suggests parallels to other metaphorically rich work of the last century including films by Tarkovsky, Bergman, and Eisenstein. The film concluded the Masters of Cinema Series at the Gallery, which also featured the work of Miloš Forman and Gustav Machatý. Earlier in the year, the Gallery also highlighted award-winning Czech animator Jan Švankmajer. Margaret Parsons, Head of the Film Department, collaborated with the Embassy of the Czech Republic on bringing this enriching program to the public.
The Washington, DC, community had the rare opportunity to meet one of the top Czech documentary directors this week. Helena Třeštíková has been making documentaries for more than 35 years, creating over 50 films usually focused on human relationships and social problems. She specializes in long-term observational documentary: following human lives over a longer period of time. At the Avalon Theater on October 10, she presented her film Katka, which gives a raw inside look at the life of a drug addict over the course of 14 years. She also presented her film René at the Czech Embassy on October 11 as part of the Embassy's Film Club Series. The film steps inside the life a teeager from a broken family and his trouble with the law over 20 years. The film garnered the prestigious European Academy Award in 2008. The events highlighted the remarkable talent of the director who is the only woman to have received the prestigious Dragon of Dragons award at the Krakow Film Festival 2012 for her documentary achievements. Former laureates include Albert Maysles, Timothy Quay, and Werner Herzog.
Director Josef Lustig presented the film The Immortal Balladeer of Prague at the Library of Congress in the Pickford Theater on October 10 at 12 noon. The documentary follows Thomas Hasler in his pursuit to discover more about his father—Karel Hašler, a renowned Czech songwriter, actor, and theater director who was killed in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Following the screening, Thomas Hasler spoke about his journey in uncovering aspects of a father he never knew but whose songs remain at the heart of the Czech nation. Deputy Chief of Mission Jaroslav Zajíček and Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová performed Karel Hašler's famous song The Old Castle Stairs at the event.
The Film & Beer series continued with a screening of the first Czech film musical, Green Gold or Czech Hops Pickers (Starci na chmelu). The Queen Vic pub welcomed guests to the event with delicious appetizers and complementary, refreshing glasses of Pilsner Urquell. Czech Cultural Attaché Robert Řehák shared remarks before the screening, placing the film into historical context, before the viewers delved into a love story, appropriately taking place in the middle of hop fields.
The National Gallery of Art presented the films The Devil's Trap (Ďáblova past) and Marketa Lazarová by director František Vláčil, with opening remarks from Czech Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová on October 7. A total of approximately 600 people were able to enjoy the two screenings. In particular, the Gallery presented a newly restored copy of Marketa Lazarová, which proved to be a special treat for film goers. Wide shots revealed landscapes of snow so beautifully rendered and close-ups on actors took viewers inside the emotions of the characters. The picture is simply a masterpiece of art, meticulously storyboarded and ultimately transferred into a vision on film. Director František Vláčil's films are well-known for their extraordinary high art quality. Czech critics and industry experts voted his epic Marketa Lazarová (1967) the best Czech film of all time.
Film historian and author Pavel Jiras presented an intimate view of director František Vláčil’s life and work at the Czech Embassy on October 4, 6:30 pm. The evening included the opening of the stunning black and white photography exhibition František Vláčil’s Studio, featuring production stills from Vláčil’s film Marketa Lazarová. Pavel Jiras used easels and a large piano to set-up a studio atmosphere and bring about the spirit of Vláčil’s personal studio to the Embassy's main hall. During the opening, the public also viewed a short documentary about the renowned director. After the screening, Pavel Jiras, who knew Vláčil personally, provided intriguing information about the director himself, with Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová offering her insight into the director's work.
Maestro Sidlin conducted the Catholic University of America’s (CUA) Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir in an unforgettable performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s one act opera Mozart and Salieri and Mozart’s Requiem at the National Gallery of Art on September 30 at 6:30 pm. Stephen Ackert, head of the music division at the Gallery gave opening remarks about Mozart’s time in Prague, while Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at CUA offered his praise on the collaboration for such a wonderful event. Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová further recognized the event as a part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival. Angelic voices intertwined with the exceptional harmony of the orchestra in the moving concert with over 500 people in attendance in the majestic Gallery’s West Garden, as featured soloists Arianna Zukerman (soprano), Anamer Castrello (mezzo soprano), Issachah Savage (tenor), Matthew Smith (tenor), and Eugene Galvin (bass-baritone) beautifully rendered their performance. The evening concluded with the Requiem, the music of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which brought a standing ovation.
Close to 400 people packed the East Building Auditorium at the National Gallery of Art on September 30 at 4 pm, to enjoy the director’s cut of Miloš Forman’s triumphant film Amadeus on the big screen. Margaret Parsons, head of the Gallery’s film department opened the event, concluding a series of screenings at the Gallery highlighting director Miloš Forman. Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová offered her thanks to the Gallery for presenting such enriching programs showcasing Forman’s extraordinary talent. During the film screening, the atmosphere was electric- almost magical. The audience laughed at numerous humorous passages as they rekindled their love for the film all over again – reveling at the opulent sets and costumes, beautiful cinematography, enchanting storytelling, and engaging acting. The film garnered eight Oscars, including best director and best picture at the Academy Awards in 1985.
The National Gallery of Art presented a collection of director Miloš Forman’s Czech New Wave films on September 29 at 1pm, with opening remarks from Margaret Parsons, head of the Gallery’s film department. A total of almost 1,000 people were able to savor such renowned films as The Firemen's Ball (Hoří, má panenko), Black Peter (Černý Petr), and Loves of a Blonde (Lásky jedné plavovlásky). Before coming to the United States, Miloš Forman received international acclaim as one of the leaders of the Czech New Wave, a movement that featured some of the most attractive films produced in Europe at that time. Forman’s first color film, The Firemen’s Ball, was banned by the Communist regime, but earned him international praise. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 41st Academy Awards and was also listed to compete in the 1968 Cannes Film Festival.
The Czech Embassy treated guests to a behind the scenes look at the making of director Miloš Forman’s Oscar-winning film Amadeus on September 27, at 6:30 pm, as part of its Film Club Series. National Film Archive Director Michal Bregant, an extra on the set of the film, offered his insight into the production of this beloved classic as well as Forman’s life. The program began with the screening of the documentary film The Making of Amadeus, followed by a Q&A with Bregant and Czech Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová. In the documentary, actors Tom Hulce (Mozart), F. Murry Abraham (Antonin Salieri), and Elizabeth Berridge (Constanze), among others, delighted the audience with their humorous stories from their auditions and time on the set, while director Miloš Forman spoke about trying to cast the right actors—especially Mozart. Forman returns to his homeland after almost 20 years in exile, all the while being followed by the secret police, to film Amadeus.
An intense lecture-recital on Czech Art in the 1950s and 60s, the period which influenced Miloš Forman, captivated the crowd at the National Gallery of Art on September 26. The program began with a thorough and fascinating power point presentation regarding art and sculpture by Andrea Rousová, curator from the National Gallery in Prague. Then, Barbora Kolářová, Czech solo violinist and current student at the Yale School of Music with Ani Kavafian, presented Alois Hába’s Suite for Violin Solo in six tone system for the piece’s US premier and Klement Slavický’s Partita for Violin Solo. Both solos demanded acute technical, musical interpretation. Rousová and Kolářová demonstrated the official and unofficial styles of music, art, and architecture under the former Communist regime to an overwhelmingly expert oriented audience, seeking in depth knowledge of the Czech arts during the two decades.
The Mutual Inspirations Festival brought two screenings of the 1966 film Sedmikrásky (Daisies) by the sole female director of the Czech New Wave, Věra Chytilová, to the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. The film challenges gender-identity politics through a series of episodes about two young women, who have anarchic fun. The film was banned by the communist government and the director had a very hard time finding work after its release. Director of the National Film Archive in Prague, Michal Bregant, spoke at the showing on September 24 and discussed Daisies and the Czech New Wave with the members of the audience, many of which were film experts, students of cinematography and Czech compatriots.
Deputy Chief of Mission Jaroslav Zajíček opened Forman’s Oscar-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt at the AFI Silver Theater on September 23, at 11 am, as part of the US-wide retrospective A Tribute to Miloš Forman. The film follows the life of controversial magazine publisher Larry Flynt from his impoverished upbringing to his Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine v. Falwall. The Supreme Court ruling was a very important decision in regards to freedom of expression. Zajíček quoted Forman stating: I know from my personal experience that freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy... Under censorship, anyone who does not agree with the official standpoint could be an enemy of the state...this power corrupts." The film received over a dozen prestigious awards, including Golden Globe for Best Director (Milos Forman) and Best Screenplay (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director (Miloš Forman) as well as Best Actor in a Leading Role (Woody Harrelson).
A nostalgic audience watched Miloš Forman's first feature-length Czech film Audition (Konkurs) and then his American debut film Taking Off at the National Gallery of Art on September 23. Audition is a black and white account of tryouts for a musical play at Prague's famous Semafor Theatre in the 1960’s. The colored feature Taking Off also begins with a talent competition but is placed in the context of the time in America. Michal Bregant, Director of the National Film Archive in Prague, introduced both films and discussed Forman’s cinematic approach with the reminiscent viewers.
The Masters of Cinema film series continued at the National Gallery of Art on September 22 with a fascinating lecture by Director of the National Film Archive in Prague, Michal Bregant, who spoke before a full audience about the work of the renowned filmmakers of the 1960s artistic movement known as the Czech New Wave. Bregant also revealed director Miloš Forman’s early days as an assistant to stage director Alfréd Radok, who had Forman act after Forman could not find an actor to fill a part. Of course, Forman has acted on several occasions since that time, recently in the film Beloved.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg gave tribute at a special, private reception and documentary screening, held in celebration of the 80th birthday and work of Miloš Forman at the Motion Picture Association of America on September 21. Czech Ambassador Petr Gandalovič and Margaret Parsons, Head of the Film Department at the National Gallery of Art, spoke in praise about the director and the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2012 before the screening of "Miloš Forman: What Doesn't Kill You…,” a film about the director’s life by Miloslav Šmídmajer and starring Miloš Forman. Albeit Forman could not attend, the Czech Embassy coveyed to him in absentia an extraordinary birthday gift, recently discovered correspondence between Forman and his elder brother Blahoslav from Forman’s childhood, from members of the project "Revived History" in the Bohemian village of Ratenice.
The series Docs in Salute continued at the Library of Congress on September 19 with a showing of the documentary In the Shadow of Memory. It is a story about the ongoing effects, legacy and relevance of the tragedy in the innocent Czech village of Lidice, which was grazed to the ground by the Nazis in 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the mastermind behind the Final Solution, by Czech parachutists in Prague. The Nazis killed all the men in the village and sent the women and children to concentration camps. In the film, producer Jerri Zbiral follows her mother and others, who miraculously survived, back to the site of the gruesome massacre. The producer was on hand at the event to answer many questions from a mixed audience, which included professionals from the Library of Congress and individuals interested in Judaic and related issues. The Czech Embassy donated films connected to the Lidice theme to the archives of the Library of Congress.
An enthusiastic audience filled DC’s only Czech restaurant Bistro Bohem to get a refreshing Pilsner Urquell on September 18 and watch the classic film Cutting It Short (Postřižiny) by Oscar-winning director Jiří Menzel, who, like Miloš Forman, was one of the leaders of the Czech New Wave in the 1960’s. The film is based on the writings of Bohumil Hrabal and his childhood in Nymburk’s brewery in the 1920s. Barbara Karpetová, Head of the Culture Department at the Czech Embassy, introduced the film and Bistro Bohem served up a delicious Czech menu of potato soup (bramboračka), roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut (vepřo-knedlo-zelo), and apple strudel (štrůdl) to complement the evening’s brew. The popular event welcomed coverage by Czech and US media and was even attended by Jan Veselý , the Czech professional basketball player of the Washington Wizards. The Czech Embassy plans on collaborating with Bistro Bohem on continuing to screen Czech classics every month.
The National Gallery of Art screened Erotikon, a great Czech silent film by director Gustav Machatý, with piano accompaniment by Ben Model in its East Building Auditorium on September 15. Margaret Parsons, Head of the Film Department at the Gallery, introduced the program, which is a part of the film series Masters of Cinema, featuring the works of Czech cinematic geniuses, from Gustav Machatý, a legend of the silent film era, to František Vláčil, a director who had an incredible flair for epic films, and Miloš Forman, leader of the Czech New Wave and acclaimed Hollywood director. Andrea Rousová, the curator of the National Gallery in Prague, also offered opening remarks.
Timeless Stories - The Story of a Political Prisoner, a part of the Embassy’s Film Club series, drew a somber crowd on September 13. Cultural Counselor Barbara Karpetová began the program with the story of the cruel and unforgettable, timeless story of the political prisoner in Miloš Forman's film Goya's Ghosts, followed by a screening of the film K. Ch. – The Documentary Portrait of a Female Political Prisoner, about Karla Charvatová who was raped while imprisoned due to her political, anti-Communist views in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and gave birth to a daughter. Special guests Tomáš Bouška and Jana Švehlová spoke about the political situation of that time in Czechoslovakia and an intense discussion concluded the event whereby others shared their stories of imprisonment and mistreatment.
This year’s Mutual Inspirations Festival, held in honor of the Oscar-winning Czech-American director, was officially launched by Czech Ambassador Petr Gandalovič during a reception at Industry Gallery on September 8 via Czech artist Bořek Šípek’s first U.S. solo exhibition Bořek Šípek: Baroque Soiree. Bořek Šípek was the Court Architect in Prague under Czech President Václav Havel and his exquisite glass designs have been collected by famous personalities such as director Miloš Forman. As Forman’s film Amadeus utilized the regal dress of Mozart’s era, Šípek’s opulent glass and furniture designs transformed the gallery’s stark space into a majestic realm. To explore the artist’s latest dazzling collection, click here.
The six member American band Washington Musica Viva performed a vivacious concert of music by Czech jazz composer Jaroslav Ježek, as arranged by contemporary composer Charley Gerard in a program titled "Ježek in America", at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on September 5. Jaroslav Ježek was fascinated by American jazz and Washington Musica Viva, inspired in turn by his work, embodies the spirit of the Mutual Inspirations Festival, the celebration of Czech-American mutual cultural influences. To listen to the performance, click here.
A packed crowd eagerly listened to a lecture on the life of the acclaimed director Miloš Forman by Czech Cultural Attaché Robert Řehák and then viewed a screening of excerpts from a documentary on the director’s life at the Pickford Theater in the Library of Congress on September 4. The film Miloš Forman: What Doesn’t Kill You… delves into Forman’s experiences under totalitarian regimes in his native Czech lands and discusses their influence upon his films. The event launched the Library’s Docs in Salute film series, which focuses on interesting personalities touched by Jewish themes and pays tribute to Miloš Forman’s parents who died in concentration camps. Click here for Marsha Dubrow's review in the Examiner.
The Embassy of the Czech Republic announces the launch of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2012-Miloš Forman website www.mutualinspirations.org. This site features upcoming events, stories about Forman, US-Czech inspirational personalities, and more. Be sure to check the website periodically for the site is undergoing "construction" as new events and information are added.
Photo courtesy of Oldřich Škácha
The Mutual Inspirations Festival 2012-Miloš Forman celebrates Oscar-winning, Czech director Miloš Forman’s 80th birthday, the best of Czech cinematography, and the accomplishments of the transatlantic film industry. The festival runs September-October 2012, and features over 30 films and events in prestigious venues throughout the Washington area, including the National Gallery of Art, AFI Silver Theater, Library of Congress, Avalon Theater, Katzen Arts Center at American University, among others. In addition, the festival incorporates concerts, lectures, and exhibitions, related to film and photography. A special component of the festival is the US-wide Forman retrospective: A Tribute to Miloš Forman.
The festival is an annual initiative spearheaded by the Embassy of the Czech Republic, under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, focusing on the mutual inspirations between Czech and American cultures. Last year, the festival highlighted Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and welcomed over 10,000 people at events featuring over 500 local and international artists throughout the nation’s capital. The events are open to the public and most of the events are free of charge.
US-Wide Forman Retrospective: A Tribute to Miloš Forman
A Tribute to Miloš Forman is a US-wide project where the Czech Honorary Consular Corps in the United States, the Czech Center in New York, and Czech Foreign Service Posts will screen a film by award-winning director Miloš Forman and host an evening exploring a particular theme in the film that has impacted society. The goal of the project is to present a retrospective of Forman’s films throughout the United States. Through Q&A sessions, lectures with leading experts, and discussions with the community, the project highlights the vibrant films of the renowned Czech-American director, pays tribute to his transatlantic success, and explores themes in his films that continue to play out in today’s society: including questions of personal freedom, social conformity, and the oppression of the individual, among others.
CZECH REPUBLIC and the FILM INDUSTRY
In addition to bringing talented Czech filmmakers to the forefront, the festival also spotlights the Czech film industry. The Czech Republic has a rich heritage of filmmaking and has collaborated with the U.S. on numerous films and commercials. Economic incentives for filming in the Czech Republic include lower costs, stunning locations, and professional production teams.
Enjoy the fall season packed with events accentuating director Miloš Forman and the mutual inspirations that ensue between the Czech Republic and the United States through the cinematic realm. Be sure to stay posted on www.mutualinspirations.org for upcoming events.