The UCLA Film & Television Archive, in association with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles and Staropramen, will be featuring recent films from the Czech Republic, a few of which are co-productions with its neighbors Slovakia and Poland.
Flower Buds (Poupata) (Czech Republic, 2011) – May 10, 2013 – 7:30 pm
A bleakly humorous snapshot of life in a snowy and remote Czech town, Flower Buds tracks with clear-eyed tenderness the intersecting hardships and hopes of its residents, centering on the Hrdina family: Jarda, a train signal operator with a gambling problem, his wife Kamila, who pines for her lost youth, and their restless teenage children.
Gypsy (Cigán) and Made in Ash (Až do města Aš) – May 11, 2013 – 7:30 pm
Gypsy (Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2011): When his father is killed and his loan-shark uncle becomes head of the family, a Roma boy is caught between two worlds—he navigates poverty and prejudice as he struggles to support his family, while resisting his uncle’s criminal activities and embittered attitudes toward non-Roma. Shot on location, evocative hillside landscapes and touches of magic realism balance this astutely realist drama.
Made in Ash (Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2012): A naive teenage girl heads west from Slovakia to the Czech-German border, dreaming of a better life, but succumbing to exploitation as hard times and discrimination narrow her options and dispel her illusions. Non-professional actors and handheld camera punctuated with interludes of animation contribute to a gritty but lyrical portrayal of border town realities.
Polski Film and Signal (Signál) – May 16, 2013 – 7:30 pm
Polski Film (Czech Republic/Poland, 2012): Four Czech actors decide to play themselves in a film about their youth, but the production is plagued with everything from financial problems and tabloid scandals to religious crises and an actor’s inexplicable speech impediment. This self-reflexive satire of the moviemaking industry recalls the absurdism of classic Czech comedies and the deft irony of Christopher Guest.
Signal (Signál) (Czech Republic, 2012): The arrival in a remote town of Filos and Kaja, two pranksters claiming to be scouting locations for a cellphone tower, sets off an underhanded competition among locals for the lucrative contract promised to the owner of the land chosen for the tower. In this farcical depiction of rural intrigue and urban condescension, complications ensue when the townsfolk discover the deception.
The House (Dom) (Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2011) – May 20, 2013 – 7:30 pm
Anxious to escape her small town, ambitious teen Eva saves money to become an au pair in London, while her taciturn father stubbornly builds a house for her on the family property. An intimate, carefully observed drama of generational conflict in which the weight of unspoken expectations, unmet desires and family grudges surfaces when Eva’s older sister returns home with her ne’er-do-well husband.
In the Shadow (Ve stínu) (Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland/Israel, 2012) – June 3, 2013 – 7:30 pm
During the consolidation of Soviet power in 1950s Czechoslovakia, a cracked safe and stolen cash lead an honest police inspector into a dangerous web of corruption in the State Security bureau—even as his reckless pursuit of the truth alienates and endangers his family. Rain and power blackouts contribute to a taut atmosphere in this neo-noir police thriller.