Athens International Film Festival

The Joke

20/09/19, 18:00, ODEON OPERA 1
24/09/19, 19:45, DANAOS 2

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. 

CZECHOSLOVAKIA | 1969 | B&W | DCP | 81' | CZECH

After the Communist Party banishes him due to a seemingly innocent prank against it – which had dramatic consequences–a man meets the wife of the person responsible for sending him to jail and decides to take revenge. But life is full of surprises. The openly cruel ‘Joke’, based on Milan Kundera’s legendary book (who co-writes the screenplay) and created during the Prague Spring, today seems strikingly ironic.

Through the description of the main character the film seems to be fearing the shadowy practices of the solemn Party supporters but at the same time it seems to feel safe, almost generous in 1968, when it was filmed. The truth is that during the August of '68 the dream was destined to end for several decades. But either as a document (it’s one of the last films of the Spring) or a psychological presentation of recovery, ‘The Joke’ seems to be the definition of humour, a word definitely unknown to those it criticizes. I.D.

DIRECTOR: Jaromil Jireš
SCREENWRITERS: Jaromil Jireš and Milan Kundera
DoP: Jan Čuřík
MUSIC: Zdeněk Pololáník
EDITOR: Josef Valušiak
PRINCIPAL CAST:Josef Somr, Jana Dítětová, Luděk Munzar

JAROMIL JIREŠ (1935-2001)
Jireš is the Slovak director of ‘The Cry’, which is often considered the starting point of the New Wave. Despite his filmography, he remained in Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion, blunting his subjects. He worked non-stop until his dying day, directing for cinema, TV and opera.

FILMOGRAPHY (SELECTED)
1982 Incomplete Eclipse
1979 The Young Man and Moby Dick
1970 Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
1969 The Joke
1963 The Cry

 



    Publication date: 2019-09-09 00:11:15

    Spring awakening: Wild flowers of the Czech New Wave

    Spring awakening: Wild flowers of the Czech New Wave

    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.

    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.