Czech That Film 2018
July 6 – August 1
The Gene Siskel Film Center presents Czech That Film in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago. Two sci-fi classics are highlights of this series: family-friendly A JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME by master animator Karel Zeman; and Jan Svěrák's hallucinatory ACCUMULATOR 1, screening in a new digital restoration.
A nostalgic view of WWII is seen through the eyes of a child in Jan Svěrák's BAREFOOT, back by popular demand after its debut in our "Chicago European Union Film Festival" in March. Prolific director Jan Hrebejk (KAWASAKI'S ROSE) develops a family saga around three brothers impacted by WWII and their work with the Czech resistance in GARDEN STORE: FAMILY FRIEND. The war years and subsequent trial of resistance fighter and national hero Milada Horáková are dramatized in MILADA, while Russian poet and dissident Anna Alexandrovna Barkova is the subject of a colorful and unorthodox biography in 8 HEADS OF MADNESS.
— Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming
A Journey To The Beginning Of Time
Cesta do pravěku
1955, Karel Zeman, Czech Republic, 83 min. With Vladimír Bejval, Petr Herrman.
This earliest feature by Czech animation and special-effects master Zeman (THE FABULOUS BARON MUNCHAUSEN) became a classic of the fantasy genre, and one of the most beloved childhood adventure films of all time. Through a blend of live action and animation, four resourceful young boys travel back to the primeval world in a rowboat, traversing prehistoric epochs over the River of Time. Dinosaurs and a host of fearsome creatures come thrillingly to life, including the saber-tooth tiger, dive-bombing Pteranodon, plodding Styracosaurus, big-finned Stegosaurus, duck-billed Trachodon, and more, in scientifically accurate renditions based on the palaeo-art of Zdenek Burian. A fierce dinosaur fight gets perilous, while a trek through the swamps of the Carboniferous age yields a prize. A delight for the whole family. In Czech with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Po strništi bos
2017, Jan Svěrák, Czech Republic/Slovakia, 111 min. With Alois Grec, Tereza Voříšková.
"Never makes a misstep…an able touch of sardonic East European humor keeps things smart and light." - Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
"The entire cast is superb…unique and heartfelt." - Jason Pirodsky, Prague Reporter
This gentle and unusually nostalgic look at the WWII years through the eyes of a young boy yields a fresh take on a time more often seen through the filter of violence. The family of eight-year-old Eda is forced to forsake Prague life and move in with rural relatives after the Germans commandeer their apartment. Adjusting quickly, Eda takes the presence of a succession of Nazis, Russians, and Americans as all part of the exotic pageant of his new country life, in this story based on the autobiographical novel by Zdenek Svěrák, the director's father. Director Jan Svěrák (Oscar winner KOLYA) seamlessly blends a child's viewpoint with the adult reality of the larger picture, and creates a lovely bit of magic realism around Eda's relationship with a prodigal uncle. In Czech with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)
8 Heads Of Madness
8 hlav šílenství
2017, Marta Nováková, Czech Republic/Slovakia, 107 min. With Aneta Langerová, Viktorie Cermáková.
"Unexpectedly offbeat…there's a little Terry Gilliam irreverence here too." - Jason Pirodsky, Prague Reporter
This adventurous biopic of Russian poet Anna Alexandrovna Barkova (1901-1976) divides her story into eight highly stylized chapters with sequences that include hand-drawn backgrounds, animation, and features Czech pop star Langerová as Anna. While the facts of this dissident poet's life include twenty brutal years in a Siberian gulag, director Nováková aims through flights of fancy and visual experimentation to evoke Barkova's ever-rebellious spirit. An obstinate and troubled childhood leads to a life of the mind, Bolshevik literary fame, resistance activities, and sentencing to the gulag. Whimsical sequences include imprisoned Barkova receiving a wellness-check phone call from Stalin, and a finale that suggests a posthumous last laugh. In Czech with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Garden Store: Family Friend
Zahradnictví: Rodinný přítel
2017, Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic/Poland/Slovakia, 130 min. With Anna Geislerová, Ondrej Sokol.
"Ranks right alongside Hrebejk and Jarchovsky's finest work…heartbreaking and multilayered…achieves an exquisite balance between comedy and drama." - Jason Pirodsky, Prague Reporter
In this first installment of an intended trilogy, director Hrebejk (HONEYMOON, KAWASAKI'S ROSE) blends fraught drama and ironic comedy to chart the fortunes of a sprawling family after three brothers working for the Czech resistance are caught in a Gestapo web in 1939. Betrayals and shifting bonds fray the clan as sisters-in-law Ela, Bedriska, and Ana (Geislerová of THE NOONDAY WITCH and BEAUTY IN TROUBLE) raise their children alone while their men are imprisoned in foreign camps. The unmarried family doctor Jiri (Sokol) falls into a comfortable domestic relationship as benefactor, surrogate father to the children, and would-be lover, a desire complicated when advance news of a husband's fate proves unreliable. In Czech and Polish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
2017, David Mrnka, Czech Republic/USA, 124 min. With Ayelet Zurer, Robert Gant.
Two tumultuous decades in the life of Czech national heroine Milada Horáková, executed by the communist regime in 1950, are covered in this colorful biopic. The story spins back to the past from the wrenching day that Milada's adult daughter is presented with the unsent letters her dead mother wrote from prison. Wife, mother, lawyer, rising political figure, and daring WWII resistance fighter, Horáková (Zurer) is jailed by the Nazis, only to subsequently find an even more deadly foe in Czechoslovakia's new communist government. Falsely accused of plotting to overthrow the totalitarian rule that she so vocally opposed, she is subjected to a lengthy show trial before being sentenced to death. Director Mrnka shot in authentic locations and gained access to private letters and family photos while writing the screenplay. In English. DCP digital. (BS)
1994, Jan Svěrák, Czech Republic, 102 min. With Petr Forman, Edita Brychta.
"Distinctive techno-vampire yarn…tongue-in-cheekiness sometimes runs to the absurd." - David Rooney, Variety
"Dazzling comic science-fiction fable…soul-mate to Gus Van Sant's frosty satire TO DIE FOR." - Dennis Grunes
Director Svěrák was not the first to satirize television as a soul-sucking monster, but his inspired combo of sci-fi comedy and brash over-the-top surrealism, rife with fast-cutting, bizarre body-based imagery and bombastic music, made ACCUMULATOR 1 a hit in Europe, and an enduring classic. Cynicism and sex, New Age spiritualism, and media obsession are themes that seem ever fresh, as slacker hero Olda (Forman, son of director Milos Forman) falls victim to an energy-draining parasite and is drawn into an alternate universe on the other side of the TV screen. With the intervention of a healer, Olda is transformed into an anti-tube terrorist, wielding remotes as his weapons against the occupants of the TV's mirror-image world. ACCUMULATOR 1 never received a U.S. theatrical release, and is presented here in a new DCP digital restoration. In English, Czech, and Slovak with English subtitles. (BS)
Please note: This trailer does not have English subtitles. Our screenings of the film will be subtitled in English.