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Films: Closely Watched Trains / Larks on a String

(This article expired 26.06.2014.)

On September 14, the National Gallery of Art will present "A Day with Jiří Menzel," with screenings of Menzel's Oscar-winning film CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS beginning at 2 pm, and the highly acclaimed film LARKS ON A STRING starting at 4 pm. Share a day with the director himself as he offers an inside look at his triumphant films.

Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky)
1966, 93 min., Czech with English subtitles    
In this coming of age story, a young man working at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during WWII, develops a crush on a young conductor. He receives some advice from the experienced train dispatcher, who takes him under his wing to explain the art of lovemaking. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (1968).  

Larks on a String (Skřivánci na niti)

1969, 94 minutes, Czech with English subtitles              

A group of “bourgeois,” including a saxophonist and professor, are sent to work at an industrial junkyard in order to be ‘rehabilitated.’ Hard labor is the means of re-educating opponents of the new communist regime. Meanwhile, a group of female prisoners are serving a year sentence for trying to defect. Under the careful eye of a recently married guard, one of them falls in love. The film was initially banned and released in 1990 after the fall of the Communist regime. The film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (1990).   

Additional information about Jiří Menzel:    
Jiří Menzel is an award-winning director, screenwriter, actor, and theater director. He studied filmmaking at the famous Czech National Film Academy, FAMU, in Prague. Like Forman, he was one of the leaders of the Czech New Wave. Most notably, Menzel won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1968 for his first feature-length film Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966). With the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces in 1968, and the period of so-called ‘normalization’ that followed, he was one of the first directors to be barred from filmmaking. Menzel’s controversial film Larks on a String (Skřivánci na niti, 1969) was banned by the government, but released twenty years later, in 1990, after the collapse of the communist regime. The film won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. In 1987, his film My Sweet Little Village (Vesničko má středisková, 1985) was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film. Other renowned works include Capricious Summer (Rozmarné léto, 1968), Cutting It Short (Postřižiny, 1981) and I Serve the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále, 2006). Menzel is a member of the Czech Film and Television Academy, the European Film Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has received many prestigious awards, among them the French order of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and the Akira Kurosawa Prize for a lifetime’s achievement at the San Francisco Film Festival.   

About the Czech New Wave:            
The Czech New Wave was an artistic movement of the 1960s, hailed as the “golden era” in Czechoslovakia's cinematic history boasting some of the most attractive films produced in Europe. The core of the New Wave was comprised of recent graduates of the Film and Television Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague, who made their debuts in or around 1963, and continued to produce internationally acclaimed work throughout most of the decade. Prominent Czech directors include Miloš Forman, who directed Loves of a Blonde (Lásky jedné plavovlásky, 1965) and The Firemen's Ball (Hoří, má panenko, 1967); Věra Chytilová who is best known for her film Daisies; and Jiří Menzel, whose film Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966) whose film one the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.       

Event Details:
Location: National Gallery of Art
East Building Auditorium
4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

Admission is free. | No reservations are required.