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Menzel Retrospective: My Sweet Little Village

On December 17, at 7 pm, Bistro Bohem will screen the classic film MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE (Vesničko má středisková) by Oscar-winning director Jiří Menzel. The film tells the story of ordinary people who live a small village and how they quietly triumph over a bureaucrat who comes to the village looking for a summer cottage. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (1987). In the previous year, it won the Special Jury Award and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Montreal World Film Festival. (Dir. Jiří Menzel, 1985, 98 minutes, Czech with English subtitles)

The main character, mentally disabled young man Otík, works as an assistant truck driver. His older colleague, Mr. Pávek, takes care of him until Otík drives him crazy by his inability to perform even the simplest tasks. Rather than work with another driver, Otík accepts a job offer in Prague. The naive and sweet-tempered man does not fit in the city life and eventually, Pávek gives him a second chance to work together in the beloved home village. Throughout the film, there is a comparison between the cordial life of a small village and the routines and rituals of the community as compared to the city. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the joyful film retains its cult status as one of the most popular Czech comedies. Moreover, the Hungarian actor János Bán received for his depiction of Otík the best actor award at the Paris Film Festival in 1987.

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. 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 most recently 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.  

Event Details:
Location: Bistro Bohem
600 Florida Avenue, Washington, DC 20001
www.bistrobohem.com

Admission is free.