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Czech New Wave! Nemec's "A Report on the Party and Guests," "Pearls of the Deep"

Join us on Friday, April 11, when we watch famed Czech director Jan Nemec's dark masterpiece, A Report on the Party and Guests, part of the Pacific Film Archive's month-long retrospective of the director's films. Also on the same program is Pearls of the Deep, an anthology of short films by Nemec and four other Czech New Wave directors, based on the short stories of Bohumil Hrabal.

"Notoriously 'banned forever' by an incensed Czech government, A Report on the Party and Guests is political parable at its most cutting, dryly presenting a society where conformity is the norm and where power is contained not through brute force, but a gentle hand in the back. The revelries of some Sunday afternoon countryside loungers (including such New Wave luminaries as Ester Krumbachova, writer of Daisies, and Ewald Schorm, director of End of a Priest) are suddenly interrupted by sinister thugs, who blithely plop down a desk in a field and start taking reports. The group soon find themselves invited to 'a party' by a seemingly gentle man, of which their attendance is strangely mandatory, or else. With cues from Kafka, Ionesco, and life itself, A Report is one of the most devastating satires ever made, revealing the structures of power that exist in all states and society."

"Representing a who's-who of the Czech New Wave, Pearls of the Deep brings together filmmakers Jan Nemec, Vera Chytilova, Jaromil Jires, Jiri Menzel, and Evald Schorm to adapt the stories of Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, whose work embraced the nation's many outsiders, dreamers, and drunks. Nemec's piece, The Imposters, follows two old men who regale each other with tales of their many accomplishments and victories, which may or may not have actually occurred. Each filmmaker would go on, of course, to contribute their own features to the Czechoslovak New Wave, making Pearls a fascinating compendium of artists just beginning to discover--or hone--their approaches."

Also playing: Mother and Son (Netherlands/Germany/Czechoslovakia,
1967). A tale of a doting mother and her lovable son, who's also a brutal torturer. (10 mins, In Czech with English subtitles, B&W, DigiBeta)

"'If one lives in a society which is at its core illiberal, it is the duty of every thinking human to attack this lack of liberty in every way he can,’ declared Czech filmmaker Jan Nemec in 1968, just before his film A Report on the Party and Guests was 'banned forever' by his government. 'The Czech New Wave filmmaker who posed the greatest danger to the establishment' (Michael Koresky, Criterion), Nemec studied film at Prague's famous FAMU film academy along with compatriots Milos Forman, Vera Chytilova, Jiri Menzel, and many others. His debut feature, Diamonds of the Night, introduced a pure-cinema aesthetic grounded in fantasy and nightmare, influenced by Kafka, the Czech Surrealist movement, and the all-too-real paranoia of the political state around him. His films 'make one realize just how valid and necessary absurdism, especially the austere absurdism of great dramatists like Beckett or even Pinter, is,' wrote Renata Adler in a 1968 New York Times article. Nemec explained, 'This is what appeals to me most in film--the possibility of discovering the secrets of man’s subconscious and dreams. But a pure film should be interpretable in itself; it should have its own aesthetics and poetry."—Jason Sanders

More information about the Diamonds of the Night: Jan Nemec Retrospective: http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries/nemec

Pacific Film Archive Tickets, Information, and Directions: http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/visit/directions

6:00 Purchase tickets at PFA's Box Office (2575 Bancroft) then meet across the street at Cafe Milano (2522 Bancroft) for salads/sandwiches/coffee.

6:45 Head to PFA's theater (2575 Bancroft) to take our seats. The film program starts at 7:00.

10:30 We will meet afterwards at Caffe Strada (two blocks up Bancroft, at 2300 College) for conversation.

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  • John

    "Pearls of the Deep" is perhaps the best anthology of short films I have ever seen. Each film is a memorable short story, with witty dialog and great cinematography. "A Report on the Party and Guests" was more terrifying and more realistic than Orwell's 1984. Thank you PFA!

    January 13, 2015

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