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Geneva Anderson digs into art

“Czech that Film,” a traveling film festival of 5 award-winning Czech films starts Friday, May 31, 2013, at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre

Czech director, David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013, will conduct an audience Q & A following the screening of his new film, “In the Shadow” (2012) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at “Czech That Film 2013 presented by Staropramen.”  Photo: Hynek Glos, Lidové noviny

Czech director, David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013, will conduct an audience Q & A following the screening of his new film, “In the Shadow” (2012) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at “Czech That Film 2013 presented by Staropramen.” Photo: Hynek Glos, Lidové noviny

When’s the last time you saw a contemporary Czech film?  For most of us, the answer is never, or, years ago at a film festival.  It’s not often that the opportunity presents itself.   The last Czech film I saw was Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová’s Otesánek (Little Otik, 2000) a fascinating reincarnation of Czech folklore, that touched on the both the maternal instinct and fertility issues.  It featured a childless Czech couple who purchased a wooden stump, Little Otik, which became the desperate woman’s surrogate child and the man’s nightmare.  Being Czech, I’ve longed for more access to contemporary Czech film.   Little did I know that San Francisco’s  Roxie Theatre, which has a long commitment to screening indie films, had its first Czech film festival last year, New Czech Films U.S. Tour 2012.  There was sufficient demand for them to offer it again.

Starting this Friday, May 31, is Czech That Film 2013,” presenting  five of the best new Czech films, one screening each evening at 7 p.m., through Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at  San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre.  “The program features everything from social dramas to comedies and film noir, and much more – all generously ladled with the wry humor that marks the works as distinctly Czech,” explained Mike Keegan, Special Events Programmer, Roxie Theater, who selected the 5 films that the Roxie will screen from a pool of 12 films.  Czech That Film is sponsored by The Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles together with the Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in San Francisco, Silicon Valley Richard Pivnicka and Staropramen, the renowned Czech brewery.

Opening Night: The festival kicks off on Friday, May 31 at 7:00 pm with an opening screening of Zdeněk Jiráský’s “Flower Buds,” (Poupata)(2011, 91 min) winner of four Czech Lions in 2012, including Best Film. Jiráský’s powerful first feature is about the struggles of a small town family trapped in the ugly, snow-clogged, nameless village who lead a bleak life in the aftermath of totalitarian rule. The film has been recognized in Chicago, Warsaw, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and many other major international film festivals.

trailer Zdeněk Jiráský’s “Flower Buds

Closing Night: The festival wraps on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:00 pm with a screening of “In the Shadow (Ve stinu) (2012, 106 min), a new period drama directed by David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013.  Starring veteran Czech actor Ivan Trojan (“Želary) and Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others”), this modern film noir explores the political and psychological labyrinth of Stalinist Czechoslovakia.  Ivan Trojan is Hakl, a member of Prague’s Communist police force charged with investigating what seems to be a routine robbery at a goldsmith’s shop.  His investigation, however, unveils darker secrets about the Communist Party.  Soon, State Security replaces him on the case with a German specialist in “Zionist crime,” played by Sebastian Koch. When Hakl continues his investigation on his own, he sets both men on a collision course with the ominous powers of the Communist state. The film swept the 2013 Czech Lion awards (the Czech Academy Awards), winning nine prizes, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Ondříček, known internationally for his many popular Czech films, will be on hand after the screening for an audience Q & A.  (Screens Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 7 p.m.)  Following the Q & A, the festival will close with an afterparty at the nearby West of Pecos, 550 Valencia Street, San Francisco.  Combined price for screening and afterparty is $15.

trailer David Ondříček’s “In the Shadow

Three other award-winning films will round the festival.  Contemporary drama “The House,” (Dom)(2011, 97 min) from acclaimed Slovak writer-director Zuzana Liová, won awards at the Bratislava and Palm Springs International Film Festivals.  The film powerfully stages unstapled shift towards capitalism in small Slovak town. Remarkable for its depth of characterization, this sensitively observed, intelligently made realist tale of generational conflict is set in a remote Slovak village where old grudges die hard.  Ambitious teen Eva is about to graduate from high school and eager to experience the world outside her pokey hometown.  Meanwhile, her controlling father is painstakingly building her a house on the family property. After Eva meets a handsome new neighbor, she is tempted, like her now-disowned older sister before her, to leave the family nest sooner rather than later.  Liova’s tightly constructed screenplay makes meaningful looks and repeated gestures speak louder than words about expectations and desires. Winner: Best Film, Best Actress, Art Film Festival.  (Screens Monday, June 3, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

Slovak writer-director Zuzana Liová discusses The House at the 56th BFI LFF

Perfect Days,”(Zeny maji sve dny)(2011, 108 min) nominated for three Czech Lions. This romantic comedy by renowned director Alice Nellis features brilliant acting (Ivana Chýlková) from a range of characters. It effortlessly makes light of the obstacles met in middle age, and playfully laughs in the face of disappointment. (Screens Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

trailer Alice Nellis’ “Perfect Days” (will have English subtitles at the Roxie)

Perfect Days,”(Zeny maji sve dny)(2011, 108 min) nominated for three Czech Lions. This romantic comedy by renowned director Alice Nellis features brilliant acting (Ivana Chýlková) from a range of characters. It effortlessly makes light of the obstacles met in middle age, and playfully laughs in the face of disappointment. (Screens Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

Tomás Rehorik’s Signàl(2012, 113 min) is a comedy about a small Czech town that starts to think there is money is to made with cell phones.  Popular Czech actors, Bolek Polívka and Karel Roden, (15 minutes, Ronin) are co-stars and director Jiří Menzel has a supporting role. (Screens Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

trailer Tomáš Řehořek’s Signàl(2012) (will have English subtitles at the Roxie)

Czech that Film” officially began in Salt Lake City in April, then traveled to Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, all before arriving in San Francisco. The festival will continue on to Chicago, Portland, New York, Washington, DC, before concluding in Seattle in July, 2013.  A total of 12 films will be screened but different cities may select a reduced program. Special events will complement the festival in each city, including opening and closing receptions and Q&A’s discussions with directors. announced.

Details: Czech That Film 2013 is May 31-June 4, 2013 at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th Street, San Francisco, CA  94103 .  All Screenings start at 7:00 p.m.  All films are in Czech with English subtitles.  Tickets are $10 per film ($6.50 for seniors) and $15 for the June 4, Closing Night screening and afterparty with David Ondříček in attendance.  Tickets can purchased in advance online  here or at the Roxie Theatre.

Friday, May 31           “Flower Buds”

Saturday, June 1         “Perfect Days”

Sunday, June 2            “Signal”

Monday, June 3          “The House”

Tuesday, June 4          “In the Shadow” (followed by Q&A with director and Closing Night afterparty at West of Pecos)

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May 29, 2013 - Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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