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Oscar-Winning Director Heads to DC

(This article expired 13.08.2014.)

The Embassy of the Czech Republic announces a week-long series of events from September 13-17, with Oscar-winning Czech director Jiří Menzel, which will include an evening with Menzel at the Czech Embassy, screenings and discussions of his film classics at the National Gallery of Art, an informal screening at the Czech restaurant Bistro Bohem, as well as the local premiere of his new film Don Juans (Donšajni) at the AFI Silver Theater. The special series marks the year of Menzel’s 75th birth anniversary!

On September 13, at 7 pm
, the Embassy of the Czech Republic welcomes renowned film and theatre director Jiří Menzel, prominent Czech physical theater actress and director Miřenka Čechová, and U.S. theatre/musical theater director Gail Humphries Mardirosian for an intimate evening entitled the Directors' Café: Directors' Approach to Havel. The exhibition Capricious Summers of Jiří Menzel, based on photographs, posters, texts and documents from private archives of the director, will be on view at the event. Engage in the exploration of theatrical directing from the different viewpoints of each of the directors. Admission is free. RSVP: reservations@mutualinspirations.org and put “Directors” in the subject line.          

On September 14, at 2 pm, the National Gallery of Art will present “A Day with Jiří Menzel,” featuring the  screening of Menzel's Oscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky), a coming of age story about a young man who develops a crush on a young conductor while working in a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during WWII. The screening of the highly acclaimed film Larks on a String (Skřivánci na niti) will follow starting at 4 pm. In the film, a group of “bourgeois,” including a saxophonist and professor, are sent to work at an industrial junkyard in order to be “rehabilitated.” The film was initially banned and later released in 1990, after the fall of the communist regime. Share a day with the director himself as he offers an inside look at his triumphant films. Admission is free. (Closely Watched Trains, 1966, 93 min., Czech with English subtitles) | (Larks on a String, 1969, 94 minutes, Czech with English subtitles) 

On September 15, at 5 pm, the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center will screen Jiří Menzel's new film Don Juans (Donšajni). The latest film from this Czech New Wave legend is a comedy about the intersection of life and art. When a small-town opera company mounts a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, passions run high both on stage and behind the scenes. Menzel made a memorable appearance at a sold-out screening of I Served the King of England during the 2007 AFI European Union Film Showcase; don't miss this chance to see the auteur present his latest film. A Q&A with the director follows the screening. The event will also include a special exhibition on the famous director. The exhibition Capricious Summers of Jiří Menzel, based on photographs, posters, texts and documents from private archives of the director, will be on view at the event. For more information about the film, please visit www.donsajni.cz/en/. Tickets can be purchased at AFI’s box office or online at www.afi.com/silver. (2013, 100 min., Czech with English subtitles)

On September 17, at 7 pm, Bistro Bohem will screen Jiří Menzel’s classic film Cutting it Short (Postřižiny), as part of the Menzel Retrospective,  and marking the one-year anniversary of the "film and beer" series at the Czech restaurant. Share a brew with the director himself, watching the humorous tale based on the writing of Bohumil Hrabal and his childhood in Nymburk’s brewery in the 1920s. Admission is free. RSVP required: bistrobohem@gmail.com. (1981, 93 min., Czech with English subtitles)                 

Additional information about Jiří Menzel:                 
Jiří Menzel is an award-winning director, screenwriter, actor, and theater director. He studied filmmaking at the famous Film and Television Academy of the Performing Arts, 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. 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 (Sedmikrásky); and Jiří Menzel, whose film Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966)  won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  

Praha and PSJ