Annual summer cinema makes a move across town
Prague's summer outdoor cinema series, formerly known as the StЕ™elГЎk Festival, is moving to Riegrovy sady this year as construction on StЕ™eleckГЅ ostrov - its former home - alters both the terrain of the city and its cultural landscape.
"We don't know if it will be possible for us to return to the island," says organizer Petr PoЕЎvic, who is seeking a fresh start and has aptly renamed the festival "RiegrГЎk."
"[Riegrovy sady] fulfilled our criteria: to be outside, to be central yet away from residents who might feel disturbed by the noise," he said.
This year's series kicks off June 14 with a concert by the orchestra Mandelbrotovy KostiДЌky featuring a 200-piece student choir, mixing classic arrangements with modern pop-music elements.
The early days of the program are heavy on contemporary Czech films, most not available in subtitled English versions. The only Czech film that will be accompanied by English subtitles is PromД›ny, which will play June 16.
"Most subtitled 35mm film copies get sent straight to festivals, and it is hard for small cinemas and festivals to get their hands on them," PoЕЎvic said.
The series offers its trademark mix of Czech and international films, and recent American releases and second-runs. There are concerts most Thursdays, and documentaries will screen Wednesdays. With the exception of Garbage Warrior July 22, the documentaries are all Czech-language versions. The end of June provides an opportunity to catch some American blockbusters, such as the new Star Trek film (June 25), and the Oscar-nominated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (June 27). Catch Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in Doubt (June 29), and for a release just outside the Hollywood mainstream, see The Visitor (June 30).
July and August offer plenty for English-language cinephiles, as well as European films with Czech subtitles.
For animated film fans, the American Coraline is a must-see. In a beautifully pictured account, we learn of a young girl's discovery of an alternate world behind a secret door in her home (June 23). Watchmen runs the following night, and, for lovers of political drama, Frost/Nixon shows June 28. Recent acclaimed films like Milk (Aug. 11), Synedoche, New York (Aug. 12), Oscar-winner Slumdog Millionaire (Aug. 22), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Aug. 28) and The Reader (Aug. 30) are all on the agenda.
At the heart of the repertoire are films from Project 100, an initiative of the Club of Czech Art Cinemas, which compiles between eight and 10 films each year notable for historic or cinematographic contributions. This year's picks include the German silent classic Nosferatu from 1922, a film adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm, and the more recent, brutally explicit Requiem for a Dream, based on Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel of the same name. Movies from this collection show Monday nights.
For viewers well versed in Czech, the Wednesday night documentary series is worth checking out. Films shown in the series include VГtejte v KLDR (Welcome to North Korea!), Jak se vaЕ™Г dД›jiny (Cooking History) and the moving documentary RenГ©, which follows a young man who spent much of his life in prison. The Thursday concert series is still in the works, and not all details were available at press time, but the reggae and dub-influenced four piece Nana Zorin along with Rakija'n'Roll outfit Gothard are confirmed to play July 2. Other confirmed bands include Vimal Darpan's Temple of Glowing Sound (July 30), a blend of ethnic and electronic sounds and shamanic grooves. Most concert nights are supplemented by Czech comedic films, again, without subtitles.
A Sunday night showing of Psycho (July 5) is one to mark on the calendar, as well as the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading (July 10). Woody Allen's latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, shows July 17.
RiegrГЎk will also give 2009 FAMU graduates a chance to showcase their final projects June 19. Entry is free and offers a rare opportunity to see the country's newest original work. Though without subtitles, entries promise to be of a highly visual nature.
Last year's crime-infused comedy, In Bruges, is worth a view Aug. 18 and should prove itself the kind of film enhanced by an outdoor screen, and a couple of beers.
"As we have done in years before, we will provide cold drinks that can be bought at our refreshment stand," says PoЕЎvic, allaying any fears of dehydration.
By Sarah Borufka