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A Season of Classic Films: Discover Czech silent films

From April to June, the Czech National Film Archive will offer free online access to seven silent films with contemporary music, in the framework of A Season of Classic Films.

In the context of the initiative coordinated by the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) and supported by the European Commission’s Europe Creative MEDIA programme, the Czech National Film Archive has made a selection of films that includes some of the first movies shot in the Czech lands, Karel Lama’s films and performances by Vlasta Burian and Anna Ondráková. Some screenings will be followed by a live discussion on topics related to silent film and its presentation.

The first screening of the Czech retrospective is Karel Lama’s Bílý ráj (White Paradise, 1924, 73’) with music by multi-instrumentalist Tomáš Vtípil on Thursday 8 April, starting at 17:00 CET. In this film, Nina falls for the good heart and piercing eyes of an escaped prisoner and decides to help him visit his dying mother for the last time. An ingeniously written script and the involvement of ‘The Strong Four’ – one of the most distinctive creative teams to come out of Czechoslovak cinema: director and actor Karel Lama, cameraman Otto Heller, actress Anny Ondra and screenwriter Václav Wasserman – contributed to the international success of the film and established Lama and Ondra as major forces of early cinema. Other prominent figures of early Czech cinema participated in the production, such as Martin Fri and Gustav Machatý. The new film digitisation originates from a 35mm coloured restored print, for which a unique tinted and toned nitrate film provided source material.

The premiere screening on 8 April will be followed by the discussion Classics Today, which provides a framework for the entire Czech retrospective. What the term ‘classic’ means in architecture, music, literature and why using this term, will be some of the questions discussed by guests from various cultural fields and moderated by the General Director of the Czech National Film Archive, Mihal Bregant.

According to Curator Jonáš Kucharský, “Newly reconstructed film prints offer unique insight into the history of Czech cinema. The programme traces the development of early Czech film in all of its variety - from period blockbusters to marginal, quasi-documentary films. In response to the question of what constitutes a ‘film classic’ in the context of early Czech cinema, our series provides an ambiguous answer. It will be up to the audience to decide what this term means to them on the basis of the screenings and discussions”.

Films with new musical accompaniments will be added to the online series on a bi-weekly basis. The film screenings will be available on the YouTube channel of the Národní filmový archiv, Prague and on the Filmový pehled portal.


'A Season of Classic Films' is an initiative coordinated by the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) and supported by the EU Creative Europe programme. Twenty-two institutions from all over Europe, including the Národní filmový archiv, Prague, are taking part in this year’s free-admission screening events, which aim to acquaint the public - younger viewers in particular - with the history of cinema and the preservation of film heritage.

Watch the film online on 8 April at 17:00 here!


8 April
17:00 Bílý ráj / White Paradise (Karel Lama, 1924). Music: Tomáš Vtípil.
19:30 Discussion: Classics Today
Moderated by Michal Bregant (Národní filmový archiv, Prague). Panelists: Paulina Reizi (Eye Filmmuseum, ACE), Gérald Duchaussoy (Festival de Cannes, MIFC Lumière Festival), Irena Lehkoivová (ViPer Gallery), Barbora Kundraíková (Museum of Modern Art, Olomouc), Tomáš Glanc (Zurich University), Jií Tourek (Faculty of Humanities of the Charles University).

22 April
17:00 Films of Jana Kíenecký (1898-1911). Music: Jan Burian.
19:30 Discussion: Film restoration and the historical context of these early films [mod. Jeanne Pommeau]

6 May

17:00 Bu pipraven! / Be prepared! (Svatopluk Innemann, 1923). Music: Wabi Experience.

20 May
17:00 Híchy lásky / The Sins of Love (Karel Lama, 1929). Music: Ovold & Ovold & Kratochvíl.
19:30 Discussion: Music for film

10 June 17:00 Milenky starého kriminálníka / The Lovers of an Old Criminal (Svatopluk Innemann, 1927). Music: Jan Burian.

17 June 17:00 Cikáni / Gipsies (Karel Anton, 1921). Music: Trio Neuvitelno.

24 June
17:00 Ukiovaná / The Crucified (Boris Orlický, 1921). Music: Ondej Dizzcock (Ondej Blíek).
19:30 Discussion: Acting styles in early cinema



Facebook Events: Bílý ráj / White Paradise, discussion Classics Today