Hommage: Jan Němec

November 2016

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Diamonds of the Night

Démanty noci; Jan Němec, 1964, versions: OR : ces

Loosely based on a short story by Arnošt Lustig, this film is a debut by one of the most original Czech filmmakers of the 1960s, the 28-year-old Jan Němec. This drama on the verge of life and death tells the story of two Jewish young men and their escapefrom a Holocaust train, naturalistically capturing the state of exhaustion, anxiety, hunger and danger. Images of the escape of physically and mentally exhausted men are intertwined with associative flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations that make the subjective perception of the two protagonists come alive. Diamonds of the Night grasps the subject of holocaust through an intensely subjective perspective. Němec himself described the style of this technically and narratively provocative work as “dreamy realism” and this fact is only underlined by the visual composition, minimal dialogue and the use of silence as a dramatic element. Show more

2D OR 15
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Pearls on the Ground

Perličky na dně; rôzni, 1965, OV (cz, róm., ang.); Director: various, 1965, versions: OR

Set against the backdrop of a repressed Czechoslovakia, five non-related vignettes are presented, each showcasing the need and want for human connection. In "Mr. Baltazar's Death", a middle aged couple who are experts at mechanics, travel to a motorcycle race where they congregate with the masses on the section of the course where historically there has been the most action of the destructive kind. In "Imposters", two elderly hospital patients talk about their past professional glories as a journalist and light opera star respectively. Each man wants to hear about the other more than tell his own story for good reason. In "The House of Joy", two national insurance agents believe they have an easy sale when they visit an elderly goat farmer/amateur painter, who uses whatever surface as his canvass, and paints his life and his dreams. But the sale will not be as easy as the men first believe it will be. In "The Restaurant the World", a wedding reception is taking place in one part of a busy self-serve diner. The reception guests are oblivious to the sadness of real life taking place all around their small current vacuum of a world, with the bride determined to make the most of *her* night. And in "Romance", a working class lad, out on the town on his own, is mesmerized by a young Romani girl. Show more

2D OR 15
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The Party and the Guests

O slavnosti a hostech; Jan Němec, 1966, versions: CV , OR : ces

A group of eight people is invited to a party held by an unspecified celebrity. The celebration begins as a "royal party" at a lakeside but the good mood of the host is soon spoiled by a "refuge of one of the guests". The rest of the guests take a hunting dog and start looking for the refugee who disobeyed social rules and via that also the structure of mutal collaboration, debt and deadness. Show more

2D CV OR 15
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In the Light of the King's Love

V žáru královské lásky; Jan Němec, 1990, versions: CV , OR : ces, slk

In 1992, Prague is the capital of a small kingdom. The prince is supposed to choose his bride to be at a royal ball. But to everybody's surprise, he chooses an ugly cleaning-woman. She is shy and silent, but after the marriage she turns into a wild and rumbustious woman with an obstinate and stubborn mind. They both try to kill each other, but the queen is thrown into the dungeons. Show more

2D CV OR 15
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Code Name: Ruby

Jméno kódu: Rubín; Jan Němec, 1996, OV /cz/ + AT, Filmotéka; Jan Němec, 1996, versions: OR

This controversial feature blends documentary, archival footage and fiction into an elliptical narrative in which two young people in Prague, an ancient seat for the practice of alchemy, follow the trail for the mystical philosopher's stone. History and future blend as brilliant montage sequences and fanciful leaps of the imagination work to posit questions about the legacy of the past and how it influences the individual's personal freedom and responsibility. Show more

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Late Night Talks with Mother

Noční hovory s matkou; Jan Němec, 2001, versions: OR : ces

An artistically experimental feature film with heavily autobiographical elements from the enfant terrible of Czech cinema, Jan Němec. The director carries out a cinematic-psychoanalytic probe into his own fate. In this cleverly stylised movie (a seeming counterpart to Kafka’s Letter to His Father) the protagonist entreats his dead mother to grant him absolution. Her profession as an ophthalmologist serves as one of the key formal motifs in a cinematic confession whose central “axis” is the Prague tramline running from the equestrian statue at the top of Wenceslas Square to the crematorium in Strašnice. Though the filmmaker’s forced exile temporarily removed him from places where he lived and where the most important people in his life appeared, the tramline became a metaphoric path: half intimately painful, half showy reconciliation with his own tempestuous life. Originally shot on video, the film took the Golden Leopard for video at the 2001 Locarno IFF. Show more

2D OR 15
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Toyen; Jan Němec, 2005, OV/cz/ | Filmotéka ; Jan Němec, 2005, versions: OR

Czech author and poet of Czech cinema Jan Nemec presents his unique vision inspired by life and art of surrealist painter. Show more

2D OR 12
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