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V4 Screening: Birdies, Orphans and Fools

(This article expired 05.04.2014.)

On April 18, at 7 pm, the Embassy of Slovakia will screen the film BIRDIES, ORPHANS AND FOOLS (Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni ) as part of the second annual V4 film series: "Banned! by Communist Governments: Films They Didn't Want You to See," presented by the Embassies of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Vtackovia_siroty_a_blazni_STILL 1
SLOVAKIA

Birdies, Orphans and Fools (Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni )
Directed by Juraj Jakubisko, 1969, color, 78 min., in Slovak with English subtitles

Synopsis: Filmed immediately after the Soviet invasion of 1968, Jakubisko's third feature remained unreleased until after the fall of Communism in 1989. The film centers on the relationship between Yorick, his best friend Andrej, a Pole, and Magda, a young Jewish woman. They address each other (and the camera) with philosophical statements about the meaning of life. Yorick, who has been raised in an institution for mentally handicapped children, envies them their ignorance of the true nature of the world, and decides to deny its cruelty by taking on the role of the Fool. While the triangle relationship recalls Truffaut's Jules et Jim, Jakubisko's heroes are all orphans - products of an absurd world, in which their parents killed each other. Besides the fools and the orphans, their apartment is also inhabited by birdies (little birds, ranging from parakeets to sparrows), who fly in and out through its official and unofficial exits. The film is full of 'postmodern' references from Shakespeare to Rabelais, and refers to key episodes in Slovak history. With its unremitting narrative and visual invention, the effect of the film is ultimately exhilarating despite its downbeat and negative conclusion. Awards: FIPRESCI Prize - 27th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1990

For a preview of the film, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8mYkqJygLE (The preview is in Slovak only)

Location: Embassy of the Slovak Republic, 3523 International Court NW, Washington DC 20008
RSVP: rsvp.washington@mzv.sk 


ABOUT THE FILM SERIES

V4 Logo
V4
The Embassies of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic 
present the 2nd V4 film series:
BANNED! BY COMMUNIST GOVERNMENTS: FILMS THEY DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SEE

Washington DC, April 4-25, 2013

V4 front of postcard

Visegrad Four (V4):            
The The Visegrad Group, also known as the Visegrad Four or simply V4, is a group of four Central European countries - Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia - created in 1991. These countries have always been part of a single civilization that shares cultural and intellectual values and common roots, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen. The group's activities aim at fostering stability in the region, presenting common ideas at various international fora, and encouraging optimum cooperation with each other as well as with other countries. Poland currently holds the rotating presidency of the V4.         

In the 2nd film series Banned! by Communist Governments: Films They Didn't Want You To See  each Embassy will present a film that was banned in its country under the communist regime. The films were finally publicly released following the collapse of communism after the Revolutions of 1989, which began in Poland with its Solidarity movement and continued in Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia and other Central and Eastern European countries.

Each screening will begin with a short introduction by an Embassy representative that explains key cultural and historical elements of the film. The screenings will be followed with a reception.

FILM SCREENINGS:             
April  4, 7 pm: Interrogation (Przesłuchanie)  at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland
April 11, 7 pm: The Witness (A tanú ...)  at the Embassy of Hungary       
April 18, 7 pm: Birdies, Orphans and Fools King (Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni ) at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic
April 25, 7 pm: The Ear (Ucho) at the Embassy of the Czech Republic  

Przesłuchanie1
POLAND

Interrogation (Przesłuchanie)
Directed by Ryszard Bugajski, 1982, 118 min., in Polish with English subtitles

Synopsis: Tonia (Krystyna Janda) is a cabaret singer in post-World War II Poland around the time of Russian leader Joseph Stalin's death. She is arrested without explanation and placed in a political prison to be interrogated. Over the course of several years, she is humiliated and tortured by prison officials into confessing to crimes she did not commit.

Due to its anti-communist themes, the Polish communist government banned the film from public viewing for more than seven years. Only after the 1989 dissolution of the Eastern Bloc did the film see the light of day. The film had its first theatrical release in December 1989 in its native Poland, and was entered into the 1990 Cannes Film Festival where Krystyna Janda won the Best Actress award. The film itself was nominated for the Palme d'Or.

For a preview to the film, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M74ovHZIJmU

Location: Embassy of the Republic of Poland, 2640 16th  Street NW, Washington, DC 20009             
RSVP:  washington.culture@msz.gov.pl  with  "Interrogation" in the subject line. 


Tanu5.JPG                      
HUNGARY

The Witness (A tanú ...)           
Directed by: Péter Bacsó, 1969, 109 min., in Hungarian with English subtitles

Synopsis: The Witnesstakes place during the height of the Rákosi Era, closely modeled after the ruthless and brutal Stalin regime. The film follows the life of an ordinary dike-keeper, József Pelikán, who has been caught for illegally slaughtering his pig, Dezsõ...

Banned for more than a decade for its outspoken criticism of Hungary's post-WWII communist regime, Péter Bacsó's The Witness has since then achieved unparalleled cult status in its native land. Known as the best satire about communism, the film has become a cult classic and was also well-received by critics and general audiences alike when it was finally released outside of Hungary.

Its candid and realistic portrayal of the incompetent communist regime earned great acclaim for both the director and the film itself when it was shown at the 1981Cannes Film Festival.

For a preview of the film, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHhwBY9clio; 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDtf2Aa1N88

Location: Embassy of Hungary, 2950 Spring of Freedom Street NW, Washington, DC 20008             
RSVP: rsvp.was@mfa.gov.hu      

Vtackovia_siroty_a_blazni_STILL 1
SLOVAKIA

Birdies, Orphans and Fools (Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni )
Directed by Juraj Jakubisko, 1969, color, 78 min., in Slovak with English subtitles

Synopsis: Filmed immediately after the Soviet invasion of 1968, Jakubisko's third feature remained unreleased until after the fall of Communism in 1989. The film centers on the relationship between Yorick, his best friend Andrej, a Pole, and Magda, a young Jewish woman. They address each other (and the camera) with philosophical statements about the meaning of life. Yorick, who has been raised in an institution for mentally handicapped children, envies them their ignorance of the true nature of the world, and decides to deny its cruelty by taking on the role of the Fool. While the triangle relationship recalls Truffaut's Jules et Jim, Jakubisko's heroes are all orphans - products of an absurd world, in which their parents killed each other. Besides the fools and the orphans, their apartment is also inhabited by birdies (little birds, ranging from parakeets to sparrows), who fly in and out through its official and unofficial exits. The film is full of 'postmodern' references from Shakespeare to Rabelais, and refers to key episodes in Slovak history. With its unremitting narrative and visual invention, the effect of the film is ultimately exhilarating despite its downbeat and negative conclusion. Awards: FIPRESCI Prize - 27th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1990

For a preview of the film, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8mYkqJygLE (The preview is in Slovak only)

Location: Embassy of the Slovak Republic, 3523 International Court NW, Washington DC 20008
RSVP: rsvp.washington@mzv.sk 

Ucho - foto -ìb 1
CZECH REPUBLIC 
  

The Ear (Ucho)           
Directed by Karel Kachyňa, 1970, 94 minutes, in Czech with English subtitles

Synopsis: The story takes place over the course of an evening in the life of Ludvík and Anna, a bitter married couple. Ludvík, a senior ministry official, and his alcoholic wife Anna return home after attending a political party function and notice that someone has broken into their home. Several strange occurrences, including the disappearance of their spare house keys and dead phone lines, lead them to believe that they are under surveillance by their own government. A disturbing sense of paranoia encompasses the couple as they fear that the "ear" is listening to everything they say and do. The film was banned immediately upon completion and withheld from circulation until 1989. At the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 1999, director Karel Kachyňa won the Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema.        

For a preview of the film, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2QnHkRVp1A (The preview is in Czech only)

Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom Street NW, Washington, DC 20008          
RSVP:  czech_events@yahoo.com with"The Ear" in the subject line.