Fans of Czechoslovak cinema, in particular the Czech New Wave, will most likely be familiar with many of the films of director Jiří Menzel. From the Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains to Larks on a String and Capricious Summer, Menzel changed Czech film forever. This Friday, he celebrates his 80th birthday.
Czech journalist and amateur photographer Petr Kubát bought his first professional camera in 2013 to take pictures of his new-born son. Within weeks he was hooked, moving from family pics to landscape and architecture photos. In 2016 The Guardian picked one his photos for its Best Photographs of the Day collection. Now Kubát has a photo exhibition in his home town České Budějovice.
The exhibition Residence: Prefab Estate presents the history of selected residential complexes in the Czech Republic and the social, political, cultural and economic circumstances that accompanied their construction. It follows the development of housing estates in the Czech lands from their start in the late 1940s up until the first years of the 1990s, when such construction came to an end. A brief summary is also presented of the later attempts at ‘humanising’ prefabricated buildings as well as current reflections by architects and historians
A collection of photos of the RAF’s Czechoslovak 312 squadron by the great photographer Ladislav Sitenský has just been published in Prague. The book was meant to come out in 1948 but was pulped, and the new edition has been timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia.
A major exhibition of dolls’ houses from the Victoria &Albert Museum of Childhood in London is now on display in Prague. Through the stories of 12 dolls’ houses from the past 300 years, visitors to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague can follow the history of the home, everyday lives and changing family relationships.
The first major international film festival of the year, the Berlinale, gets underway on Thursday. The Czech Republic is being represented at the prestigious showcase by three films, including one starring veteran director Jiří Menzel and a documentary exploring the life of a young paramilitary leader in Slovakia. Ahead of the festival, I spoke to Markéta Šantrochová of the Czech Film Center, who will be promoting the country’s cinema in Berlin.
One of the biggest events is taking place in the Czech computer games markets with the official launch of Kingdom Come – Deliverance. The game is the creation of a relatively new Prague studio, taking players back to the Czech lands during the troubled times of the early 15th century, with a lot riding on its success.
Hynek Martinec first came to international attention when a painting of his girlfriend Zuzana earned him the British National Portrait Gallery’s BP Young Artist Award in 2007 and he has since cemented his reputation as one of the Czech Republic’s leading visual artists. Martinec, who is 37, is currently preparing for a major exhibition at the National Gallery here in Prague. Before Christmas I spoke to him at his London studio, which at the time was dominated by his wonderful painting Allegory of the Internet.
All the characters in Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s great Irish-language comic novel Cré na Cille are dead. The title could be translated as Graveyard Clay and the setting is a graveyard in Connemara. But this is a graveyard where the deceased are more than a little talkative. The book is narrated in many voices, most of them in South Connemara dialect, and has been said to be untranslatable into English, let alone Czech, but now, nearly 70 years after it was first published in Ireland, Cré na Cille has just come out in a vibrant Czech translation. David
With over a quarter of a million followers, Jiří Šiftař must be one of the most popular Czechs on Instagram. Going by the name Jeera on the photograph sharing service, he is mainly known for stunning pictures of his adopted home of London. Jiří Šiftař and I met at a restaurant in the city near his workplace at Lloyd’s bank, where he designs web interfaces for customers. I first asked him whether he had been into photography as a child.