New Czech Films: 'Citizen Havel' & 'The Karamazovs'

by Andre Soares
A Well Paid Walk by Milos Forman
Vaclav Havel in Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek
The Karamazovs by Petr Zelenka
A Well Paid Walk by Milos Forman (top); Vaclav Havel in Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek (middle); The Karamazovs by Petr Zelenka (bottom)

New Czech Films at New York's BAMcinématek (website). The series includes works by two-time Academy Award winner Milos Forman and Jan Hrebejk, whose Divided We Fall (2000) was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar. Václav Marhoul's war drama Tobruk, which is supposed to show that there's “a very thin line between heroism and cowardice,” sounds particularly intriguing. All films in Czech with English subtitles.

Schedule and film information from the BAMcinématek website:

A Well Paid Walk (Dobre Placená Procházku) (2009) 85min
Wed, Nov 18 at 6:50*, 9:40pm
*Q&A with Milos Forman
Directed by Miloš Forman
With Jirrí Suchý, Dáša Zázvurková, Petr Stach, Petr Píša, Tereza Hálová
A comic “jazz” opera originally staged by Prague's subversive Semafor Theater in the 1960s and filmed for TV by a young Miloš Forman, A Well Paid Walk follows a couple on the rocks who feign marital bliss and parenthood in order to earn an inheritance. Forman not only returned to the stage to direct this comic opéra bouffe, but also created this brand-new filmed version. North American Premiere! Q&A with Miloš Forman.

Who's Afraid of the Wolf? by Maria Prochazkova

Who's Afraid of the Wolf? (Kdopak By Se Vlka Bál) (2008) 90min
Thu, Nov 19 at 4:30, 6:50*, 9:40pm
*Q&A with Maria Procházková
Directed by Maria Procházková
With Dorotka Dedková, Jitka Ivanrarová, Pavel Reznírek, Martin Hofmann
When a mother's attempts to revive her opera career with the help of a former lover, her five-year old girl begins to believe that she has been replaced by aliens. Acclaimed animator Procházková uses animation to depict the child's imaginative world, including elements of Little Red Riding Hood. North American Premiere! Q&A with Mária Procházková.

Citizen Havel (Obcan Havel) (2008) 120min
Fri, Nov 20 at 6:50, 9:15pm
Directed by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek
On the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, we present this vivid portrait of Václav Havel and his two terms as President of the Czech Republic. Spanning thirteen years, the film reveals the political and private lives, as well as the humor and the gravity of the playwright, philosopher, and dissident.

Rene by Helena Trestikova

René (2008)
Sat, Nov 21 at 2, 6:50pm*
*Q&A with Helena Treštíková
Directed by Helena Treštíková
This raw documentary tells the story of a man whose life has been captured on camera since he was seventeen.Treštíková followed his hopeless journey between stints in prison and brief periods outside the prison walls. Winner of the Prix Arte from the European Film Academy. NY Premiere! Q&A with Helena Treštíková.

Tobruk by Vaclav Marhoul

Tobruk (2008) 100min
Sat, Nov 21 at 4:30, 9:40pm
Directed by Václav Marhoul
With Jan Meduna, Petr Vanek, Martin Nahálka and Robert Nebrenský
Tobruk is a humanistic story about exiled Czech soldiers fighting alongside the Allies in the infamous battle of Tobruk in North Africa during WWII. A naïve young soldier joins the Czech troops and soon finds out that there is a very thin line between heroism and cowardice.

The Karamazovs (2008) 110min
Sun, Nov 22 at 2, 6:50pm
Directed by Petr Zelenka
With Ivan Trojan, Igor Chmela, David Novotný
As a Czech theater company travels to Poland to perform Dostoyevski's Brothers Karamazov, a drama of morality, conscience, guilt, and punishment takes place on stage and off. Zelenka ingeniously weaves the story through the performances on stage and the situations behind-the-scenes.

I'm All Good by Jan Hrebejk

I'm All Good (U Mne Dobrý) (2008) 102min
Sun, Nov 22 at 4:30, 9:15pm
Directed by Jan Hrebejk
With Miroslav Vladyka, Boleslav Polívka, Jirí Schmitzer
Hrebejk's (Divided We Fall) entertaining ensemble comedy, set in the early 1990s, follows six friends who meet up at a pub only to have the tranquility of their card game interrupted when one of them is victimized by con-men at an open-air market. All hell breaks loose when the friends decide to take the law into their own hands. NY Premiere!

Four Seasons Lodge by Andrew Jacobs

Directed by Andrew Jacobs, Four Seasons Lodge is currently playing at New York City's IFC Center (website) at Sixth Avenue at West Third Street. The film opens Friday, Nov. 20, at the Quad Cinema (website) at 34 West 13th Street. This week, the filmmaker will be present at the IFC Center's Wednesday-Thursday 8pm shows.

The Four Seasons Lodge summary reads:

“From the darkness of Hitler's Europe to the lush mountains of New York's Catskills, Four Seasons Lodge follows a community of Holocaust survivors who come together each summer at their beloved bungalow colony to dance, cook, fight and flirt – and celebrate their survival. Beautifully photographed by a team of cinematographers led by Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), this unexpectedly funny film confronts sobering topics like aging, loss and the legacy of the Holocaust, capturing the Lodgers' intoxicating passion for life as the fate of their colony hangs in the balance.”

Four Seasons Lodge opens in Los Angeles (and in Boston) on December 11. In case the filmmakers have already submitted it to the Academy, the Los Angeles opening means the film will be eligible for the 2010 Academy Awards in the best documentary feature category.

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