The Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia (CaSFFA) has announced the Festival program highlights, including the Opening and Closing Night films and a few unmissable gems. Running from 14-23 September 2016 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square in Melbourne, the festival is also preempted by a subscription program and Christmas in July event this Saturday 23 July! They’ll be screening a newly restored version of the classic Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella (1973) to get you in a roasty and toasty mood while Australia suffers under erratic winter weather.
Filled with parrots, witches and the Czech version of Twin Peaks (!), the full program is announced shortly, so be sure to check casffa.com.au for updates and tickets.
The CaSFFA 2016 Opening Night film, THE NOONDAY WITCH, comes hot from the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary. Jiří Sádek’s debut feature is an HBO Europe co-production and concerns a mother of a young girl who is forever promising her daughter that her husband will soon join them in the remote country house they’ve relocated to. And yet… The festival describes it as: “Full of glorious, sun-kissed cinematography, The Noonday Witch draws on Karel Jaromír Erben’s famous folkloric ballad of the same name (in Czech, Polednice) to produce a cautionary fable of similar themes, atmospherics, and intensity to Jennifer Kent’s superb recent Australian film, The Babadook. For Essie Davis, substitute the flame-haired Aňa Geislerová; for the Babadook, the great Daniela Kolářová, and for Adelaide, the gorgeous Czech countryside.”
Renowned Czech writer-director Petr Zelenka’s latest film LOST IN MUNICH closes the festival, is “variously a bizarre political black comedy, a clever slice of speculative historical revisionism, and its own ingenious and hilarious making-of-itself within itself! An elderly parrot, said to have been Édouard Daladier’s, is stolen by Pavel, a Prague journalist down on his luck (Martin Myšička). With Pavel’s help, the parrot starts giving scandalous press conferences in Daladier’s voice, picking at scabs never fully healed after the French Prime Minister was a party to the despised 1938 Munich Agreement, which ceded Czechoslovakia’s border regions to Hitler’s Germany.”
Other highlights so far
SCMITKE is described as the “Czech Twin Peaks” and that should be reason enough to go check it out. Based on a short story by Tomáš Končinský entitled “Julius Schmitke Slipped through Death’s Fingers Like an Awkward Seal”, it stars renowned German actor Peter Kurth as hangdog engineer Julius Schmitke, sent from Germany to the Czech side of the Ore Mountains in order to fix a persistently noisy wind turbine.
Meanwhile, Noël Czuczor stars in Peter Bebjak’s drama THE CLEANER, about a man who has observed life from behind closed doors and finally decides to come out and observe the real world when he sees something unsettling. It sounds a little Rear Window meets Copycat, doesn’t it? Finally, Czech director Alice Nellis has tried her hand at the fantasy genre with THE SEVEN RAVENS, an adaptation of a beloved fairy tale collected and published variously by Božena Němcová, Pavol Dobšinský, and the Brothers Grimm.