ONLINE Summer School

The Czech New Wave and Beyond

August 3 – August 7, 2020

Online Summer School

Online classes will take place Monday-Friday for three hours a day. The course will be held via the communication platform ZOOM. Students are expected to participate in live lectures.

Requirements

Full attendance of the seminars and an essay (undergraduate students - min. 2000 words; graduate students min. 2500 words).

The required level of English language is B2 according to CEFR (TOEFL iBT score of 87 or higher / IELTS score of 5.5 or higher).

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Every topic will be explored through a three-hour lecture, one feature film, and one article/chapter students will watch and read by themselves. Students should do this before each session starts. In order to open a discussion about the selected films, students will be also given handouts accompanying every title and listing topics worth exploring.

All materials will be provided in advance. All films are of a Czech origin, in the Czech language with English subtitles. During the lectures, there won’t be any additional feature film screening, only short clips with or without subtitles.

Team

Mgr. Šárka Gmiterková, Ph.D.


Dr. Šárka Gmiterková defended her Ph.D. thesis on prewar versus postwar Czech film stardom at the Department of Film and Audiovisual Culture, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic. She regularly presents her research outcomes in Czech Film Studies journal Iluminace, where she also served as a guest editor on the topics of local stardom and film acting. Her work was published internationally in Journal of Celebrity Studies, NECSUS and in the edited volumes Popular Cinemas in Central Europe: Film Cultures and Histories and Routledge Companion to Transmedia Studies.

Contact

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Language of instruction: English

Credit value: 2 ECTS credits

Tuition fee: 300 EUR

Application deadline: July 15

Application

The 1960s are still considered as the golden age of the Czech cinema. Numerous articles, books, historians, and even the younger generation of filmmakers frequently compare 1960s cinematic output to a miracle and consider the decade as an exceptionally fruitful era yet to be surpassed. On one hand, such claims are based on a proliferation of young talented filmmakers, labeled as a Czech new wave, and which through their work introduced original ways of storytelling, innovative forms, and topics, stemming from youth culture, everyday reality, and recent national history. 

However, narrowing our focus down on the new wave “auteurs” would complicate our better understanding of the 1960s. This area not only discovered artistic, modernist cinema but also introduced new genres (such as musicals), reinvented previously negated phenomenons (namely stardom), and also stimulated the older generation of filmmakers to create their best work. Through screenings, lectures, and discussions this short course will help the participants to explore this both turbulent and prolific time of Czech cinema.

After completing the course students will be able to:
  • Identify key authors of the Czech New Wave and their work
  • Recognize other key filmmakers and genre films of the 1960s
  • Understand this creative output in wider social, economic, cultural and aesthetic contexts of the decade

Course Content

This short course consists of five 3hour lectures. Each session explores a different facet of the 1960s Czech film production.

Lesson 1 – Introducing the 1960s

The decade in question witnessed major social, political, and cultural changes, which more or less directly influenced local film production. Therefore we will present the students both with the broader context of the decade – in terms of the emerging youth culture, consumerist lifestyle and embracing influences coming from western countries – as well as with the development concerning cinema, namely FAMU film school, three generation of active filmmakers in the 1960s and the state socialist mode of production.

Film: Konkurs (Audition, dir. Miloš Forman, 1963)

Reading: HAMES, Peter (2005): The Czechoslovak New Wave. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press, pp. 20–29.

Lesson 2 – Czech New Wave: The Realists (Miloš Forman, Ivan Passer, Jaroslav Papoušek, Jiří Menzel)

Stemming directly from the previous broader exploration of the decade this lecture focuses on those auteurs associated with the new wave, whom we might label as realists. While Miloš Forman’s name might be the one with the greatest international resonance, other filmmakers in the group also created visually restrained, but still rather sharp and ironic portraits of contemporary society. This session will thus explore the realists’ topical range and aesthetics, their key films, and how the regime treated them in terms of censorship and reception.

Film: Lásky jedné plavovlásky (The Loves of a Blonde, dir. Miloš Forman, 1965)

Reading: MAZIERSKA, Ewa (2008): Black Peters and Men of Marble. Masculinities in Polish, Czech and Slovak Cinema. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 99–110.  

Lesson 3 – Czech New Wave: New Forms (Věra Chytilová, Jan Němec, Evald Schorm, Ester Krumbachová, Pavel Juráček)

Apart from movies set in a recognizable, everyday reality, the other group of young filmmakers offered rather distorted portrayals of the society and the ruling regime. These allegorical and provocative visions attracted bans and critical condemnation from the communist leaders as well as gained international praise. Therefore we will present students with a wide range of formal elements and stylistic innovations introduced by these directors, explore documentaries and their aesthetic and talk about period censorship and how the authors learned to negotiate with it.

Film: Sedmikrásky (Daisies, dir. Věra Chytilová, 1966)

Reading: SKUPA, Lukáš (2018): Perfectly Unpredictable: early work of Věra Chytilová in the light of censorship and production reports. Studies in Eastern European Cinema 9, 2018, no. 3, pp. 233–249.

Lesson 4 – The 1960s Czech Cinema as a Genre Cinema

Understanding the 1960s Czech cinema as an all innovative, all radical, and young art form would be rather limiting. In fact, the decade embraced cinema as an entertainment form as well. Therefore we should introduce students of the course to the popular titles falling under various generic categories – comedies, musicals, and thrillers. This session will also focus on parodies as a way to introduce western genres and their values into the ideologically restrictive context.

Film: Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe, dir. Oldřich Lipský, 1964)

Reading: SZCZEPANIK, Petr (2017): Postwar Czechoslovak Comedy, the Autonomization of Parody, and Lemonade Joe (1964). In: Ostrowska, Dorota – Pitassio, Francesco – Varga, Zsuzsanna (eds.) (2017): Popular Cinemas in East Central Europe: Film Cultures and Histories. London: I.B.Tauris, pp. 102–119.

Lesson 5 – Animation and Experiment

The lecture will be focused on "niche" films of the 1960s and the Czech film industry apart from live-action feature films of Barrandov studio. It will introduce Brno and Zlín film studios and their production. Special attention will be given to Czech animation and its creators (Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman, Hermína Týrlová, etc.), related closely to the long Czech tradition of puppeteering.

Film: Baron Prášil (Baron Munchhausen, dir. Karel Zeman, 1962)

Reading: POLT, Harriet R. (1964): The Czechoslovak Animated Film. Film Quarterly 17, 1964, No. 3, pp. 31–40. 

Mgr. Ivona Vrzalová

Phone: +420 549 49 1513
E‑mail: