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EU Open House

(This article expired 05.04.2013.)

May 12, 2012, 10 am to 4 pm - Be enchanted at the Czech Embassy by Renaissance swordfighters, ladies-in-waiting, and the queen herself as you learn about castles and other filmmaking locations in the Czech Republic. Enjoy Pilsner beer and goulash and watch children’s choirs and stunt dogs, all from the land where Oscar winning director Milos Forman and numerous US films hail.

Czech This Out at the Embassy on Saturday, May 12!

(click on the map below for performance times)

Location! Location! Location!

Welcome to the Embassy of the Czech Republic, representing a beautiful, historically and architecturally rich country located in the heart of Europe. It’s no wonder that the Czech Republic has been an immensely popular site for filmmaking. This year, we will bring the best of Czech cinematography to Washington, DC, via the MutualInspirations Festival 2012-Miloš Forman, which runs September-October 2012 and celebrates Czech director Miloš Forman’s 80th birthday and work, along with many accomplishments of transatlantic film production. Miloš Forman has received two Academy Awards for Best Director for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984). For now, Czech out ten stops inside the Embassy grounds for a sneak peek into the movie industry in the Czech Republic…

Stop 1: Southern Bohemia

Speaking of the perfect settings for filming, the Czech lands sparkle with the most castles per square mile of any country in the world. One such 13th century city and castle of Český Krumlov in Southern Bohemia, which is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been featured in several US movies, such as Hostel (2005), co-produced by Quentin Tarantino, and The Illusionist (2006), starring Jessica Biel. Read more about the centuries old castles in the Legends of Czech Castles and Chateaux exhibition. Then, have your face painted and travel back in time as you watch a sword fight presented by Period-Productions’ Fight School and learn about how fencing is choreographed and incorporated in movies today, as in Shanghai Knights (2003) with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, filmed in part at the fairytale, white Czech castle Hluboká.

 Stop 2: Barrandov Studios

Many American filmmakers take advantage of the famous Barrandov Studios in Prague, shooting films such as The Bourne Identity (2002), Alien versus Predator (2004), Hellboy (2004), and The Brothers Grimm (2005). Referred to as the "European Hollywood,” the studios were founded by brothers Miloš and Václav Havel and provide complete production services. Václav Havel’s son of the same name drew upon his artistic appreciation, becoming a prolific writer and playwright. He met his lifelong friend, Miloš Forman, in school. Havel was also a signatory to Charter 77, a civic initiative criticizing the then ruling Communist government. After the fall of the regime, Havelserved as President from 1989 to 2003. Still, Havel’s ultimate dream was to direct, only doing so at the end of his life, a film called Leaving. A photo exhibition of the late President (1936-2011) by Tomki Němec inside the Embassy offers a glimpse into his world.

 Stop 3: Eastern Bohemia(Kid’s Corner)

Along with desirable filming locations and a world class production studio at Barrandov, the Czech Republic is famous for its schooling of creative, motion picture animators. Nicknamed the “Walt Disney of the East,” Jiri Trnka was a great puppet maker, creating distinct animation films for children and adults, such as theEmperor’s Nightingale, which hundreds stood in line to see in New York. Jan Švankmajer, the master of animation himself and self labeled surrealist, has greatly influenced other artists such as American animators Brothers Quay. Zdeněk Miler’s cartoon figure, the Little Mole (Krtek), has even traveled in plush form aboard the NASA shuttle Endeavour in 2011 to promote children’s interest in space exploration. Miler got the idea for his character when he stumbled on a mole hill in a forest. Read about the enchanting forests and castles of the Bohemian Paradise in Eastern Bohemia while your child watches Czech cartoons and plays in the kid’s corner with Krtek toys, provided by MU Brno.

Stop 4: Northern Bohemia

The Czech lands called North Bohemia boast the romantic Elbe River valley and the distinct sandstone formations known as Czech Switzerland, featured in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). Miloš Forman’s Czech New Wave colleague and director Jiří Menzel, who won an Oscar for Closely Watched Trains (1966), filmed I Served The King Of England (2006) in the region’s town of Liberec. Moreover, Northern Bohemia is known for containing the oldest Czech glassmaking sites, dating back to 1250. Bohemian glass remains world renown for its beauty, design and expert craftsmanship. Take the time to admire and purchase your own Bohemian glass jewelry at the Embassy from DC based store Green & Blue or see samples of glass beads made by North Bohemian companies Perlex and Glass Beads and buy a necklace or earrings online.

Stop 5: Central Bohemia

Besides film and television productions, the Czech Republic has also been the filming location for hundreds of commercials and music video clips, such as Céline Dion’s It's All Coming Back to Me Now (1996), viewed by almost 12 million on YouTube alone. Within Central Bohemia in Prague, American artist Kanye West filmed his Grammy-winning Diamonds From Sierra Leone (2005) on the 14th century Charles Bridge. Victoria’s Secret used the same bridge in its holiday Angel commercial for 2011. Additional US companies such as Motorola, Levi’s, Everlast, and Nike, to name a few, have also shot commercials in the Czech Republic. Stop by to speak with the Embassy’s Economic Section and CzechInvest, CzechTrade, and CzechTourism, government agencies for investment, business development, trade promotion and travel, for more information about filming opportunities and locations in the Czech Republic.

Stop 6: Prague

The capital of Prague, with its picturesque architecture spanning from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and beyond, has been an overwhelmingly popular shot location for films, such as Les Misérables (1998), starring Uma Thurman, and  From Hell (2001), starring Johnny Depp. It was in Prague at the renowned Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) where director Miloš Forman studied screenwriting, emerging at the forefront of the Czech New Wave with films such as Loves of a Blonde (1965) and Firemen’s Ball (1967). Prague also offered the perfect backdrop for Forman’s Amadeus (1984), winning eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištek) and Best Makeup. Pištek and Forman teamed up again for the movie Valmont (1989),also nominated for Best Costume Design. See Amadeus on the big screen and speak to the Embassy’s Culture Department about the MutualInspirations Festival 2012-Miloš Forman.

Stop 7: Western Bohemia

West Bohemia is revered for its romantic spa resorts like Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), also known for its annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It dates back to 1946 and is the most important international Category A film festival in Central and Eastern Europe. Past guests include Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Connery, Michael Douglas, Renée Zellweger, and Matt Dillon, just to name few. Box office hits Casino Royale (2006), a James Bond series, and The Last Holiday (2009), starring Queen Latifah were shot there. It is also the home of Becherovka, a bitter, traditional herbal Czech liqueur of a closely guarded secret recipe. Savor this so called “thirteenth healing spring of Karlovy Vary” as well as delicious goulash and a cold drafted Pilsner Urquell, brewed since 1842 in the great city of Pilsen in West Bohemia. Often imitated, the name Pilsner Urquell (“thePilsner from the original source”) simply emphasizes that this great tasting, golden lager style was originally brewed inPilsen.

Stop 8: Southern Moravia

Music plays a crucial role in most movies, which have incorporated pieces from some of the greatest Czech classical composers. Antonín Dvořák’s fourth movement of the New World Symphony may be heard in the main theme in director Steven Spielberg’s thriller Jaws (1975). Bedřich Smetana’s Fanfare And March was included in director Forman’s Oscar nominated The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), starring Woody Harrelson. Music also continues to play an every day role in the hilly, wine country of Southern Moravia, a region rich with folk traditions, costume and song and dance. Listen to the student chorus from Bohemia Manor Middle School from Cecil County, Maryland, sing folk songs as well as the Czech Republic’s National Anthem Kde domov můj? (Where is my home?). Then, watch the Czech and Slovak School Sokol Washington perform traditional dances while you sample kolaches, traditional Czech pastries, typically filled with cottage cheese, poppy seeds, or plums.

Stop 9: Northern Moravia

Northern Moravia has customarily been the Czech Republic’s manufacturing region. The industrial city of Ostrava in particular has been affected by the many years of mining and refining the local black coal deposits. Director Mathieu Kassowitz used the city's Vítkovice Ironworks as a location in his sci-fi thriller Babylon A.D. (2008), featuring Vin Diesel. The movie includes a whole slew of stunts, some performed by well trained and courageous Czech stuntmen. Watch a demonstration of crime combating techniques and exercises by real life, brave crime fighters, the Rockville City Police K-9 Unit, Cpl. Kyle Dickerson and Cpl. Heath Marshall and their Czech born German Shepherds, “Rocko” and “Boomer.” We only dare guess that their missions in the streets resemble such as those in Mission Impossible (1996), starring Tom Cruise and shot mainly in the Czech Republic.

Stop 10: Brno

An overview of Czech cinematography would not be complete without mentioning its marvelous film versions of fairytales. Shot at Barrandov Studios and various Czech castles, both children and adults enjoy timeless classics, such as Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella or The Proud Princess. Whether based on fiction or legend, they reflect the country’s ornate royal history and capture the beauty of its locations, just asThe Affair of the Necklace (2001), A Knight’s Tale (2001), and The Prince and Me (2004) have done during their filming in the Czech Republic. One Czech legendary queen was the astonishingly beautiful and very wealthy Eliška Rejčka. See award-winning actress Mary Ann Jung at the elegant Ambassador’s residence reenact the queen and hear about her ill fortuned, twice widowed fate before she meets the love of her life and settles with him in Brno, the capital of Moravia and second largest city in the Czech Republic.

Map of the Czech Embassy and performance times