Athens International Film Festival

Spring awakening: Wild flowers of the Czech New Wave

For a brief but deciding period, beginning from the early ‘60s till the August of 1968, one of the most amazing film movements ever flourished in Czechoslovakia. Benefiting from a short period of relaxation of the political climate and the promise of a gradual liberalization, a group of directors who had studied at the distinguished Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) tuned in beneficially to the same artistic frequency and began unleashing on screen some of the most innovative, narratively wild and formalistically bold films ever made.

Drawing inspiration from literature, surrealism, visual arts, the recent and primal History, but giving their multidimensional narrations a timeless and universal energy, these directors set as their fundamental goal to
completely free their imagination. As a s result? Films that original examples of modernism that influenced countless directors (Yorgos Lanthimos is the most recent, who noted 'Cremator' by Juraj Herz as inspiration for the 'Favourite').

Parallel with the French Nouvelle Vague, the English Free Cinema and the Brazilian Cinema Novo, the Czech New Wave, not only had immediate international impact, but has an impressive series of participations and awards from respectable film festivals abroad, as well as two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. And while the famous Prague Spring, initiated by Alexander Dubček, leader of the country at the time, promised democratization and full freedom of the arts, the USSR tanks invasion (August 1968) lead the newfound film movement to vanish.

In many cases filming stopped abruptly, approved scripts were now being rejected, films were banned forever and many of the creators were forced either to leave the country (Milos Forman, Ivan Passer) either to stay behind and watch their careers being destroyed. Maybe the violent invasion of reality meant the inglorious end of the Czech New Wave and halted unfairly the ecstatic blooming of the film-making of the country, but there is a whole legacy left behind, so many masterpieces. Twelve of the masterpieces of that era, many of which had been considered undesirable and dangerous by the regime, were chosen by the 25th AIFF, which proudly introduces them anew to Greek audiences, digitally remastered. The Spring Awakening is not another festival feature. It’s a precious world of unexplored emotions that you simply must discover. Loukas Katsikas

We appreciate the support of the Czech Centre of Athens and the help of its director, mrs Lucie Kuligová.



    Publication date: 2019-09-09 15:57:33

    Intimate Lighting

    Intimate Lighting

    It was among Krzysztof Kieślowski's ten favourite films. It was voted one of the best representatives of Czech cinema by the country's critics. Such accolades for a disarmingly modest film may seem excessive. However, the combination of humanity and humour found in the story of the reunion of two old friends and musicians during a weekend in the country is so irresistible that there can be no doubt as to the film's significance.

    The Joke

    The Joke

    Expelled from the Communist Party and jailed because of a seemingly harmless prank, a man decides to find and take revenge on the person responsible for his woes. But life has its own games in store. The director of the legendary “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” collaborated with Milan Kundera on the screenplay and together they produced a wonderful adaptation of the author's similarly titled book, even though the film itself was instantly banned and remained unscreened in its own country for twenty years.

    Loves of a Blonde

    Loves of a Blonde

    Before “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” and “Amadeus” won him two Academy Awards, Milos Forman was fast becoming one of the greatest representatives of Czechoslovak New Wave thanks to this film. Youthful misconceptions of love are skillfully exposed through a young working class girl who believes she has found the love of her life but when that turns out not to be the case she takes matters into her own hands. Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

    The Fabulous Baron Munchausen

    The Fabulous Baron Munchausen

    A marvellous bridge between the fairytale world, hand-drawn animation and the magical universe of Georges Méliès, a film that influenced Terry Gilliam more than any other and simultaneously a masterpiece of wild imagination, pioneering animation and directed for an audience of all ages.

    A Report on the Party and Guests

    A Report on the Party and Guests

    As the carefree picnic of a group of bourgeois friends is about to come to an end, a mysterious group of men appear out of nowhere and force them to participate in a series of increasingly bizarre games. Provocative allegory, surrealism, a class system satire of Buñuel proportions and terror thinly veiled by humour and playfulness: these are but some of the reasons which led the Commmunist regime of the time to “ban forever” this notorious film, and forced its director to leave the country.