The 38th annual Summer Film School pulls crowds to Uherské Hradiště

Photo: Marek Malušek

The 38th annual Summer Film School festival, that took place in Uherské Hradiště last week, attracted over 5000 visitors. This year’s program was mainly focused on Hungarian film and the history of movies in general.

Blessed by good weather and a beautiful host city, the Summer Film School is regarded by many in the Czech Republic to be second only to the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. Originally founded as a summer film seminar for professional as well as amateur film makers, the event has grown much in size since its humble beginnings in the 1960’s.Today it offers one of the best film festival experiences for the masses, while still retaining its rich educational potential. Featuring seminars with many distinguished film makers, as the festivals director Radana Korena was eager to emphasize.

“This year we’ve had multi award winning directors Carlos Saura, István Szabó and Abbas Kiarostami, who also received our annual Czech film association awards, we had many Czech guests and we also had other famous foreign guests, for example Marcel Jankovic, as well as Sri Lankan director Vimukhti Jayasundara. What also makes the Summer Film School so special is the fact that ordinary visitors can simply meet these artist in the streets, cafés, restaurants and have a chat with them, rather than these talks being restricted just to film classes or discussions, which isn’t usual at film festivals.”

István Szabó,  photo: David Kumermann
It is exactly this informality, mixed with the simplicity of a picturesque Moravian town that makes this festival so unique, as was confirmed to me, when I asked the festivals visitors why they were here.

“It provides a lot of very interesting movies and a lot of interesting guests, who you can chat to over a beer. It is this freedom that I like on this festival.”

“It hasn’t ever disappointed me, especially its originality. The silent movies and live music are always a big experience.”

“I am a film historian so I guess you could say I am here on business. I have been visiting this festival regularly for a long time already because it was always an event that showed films one wouldn’t see anywhere else.”

Photo: David Kumermann
This year the festival focused mainly on Hungarian film, featuring 34 movies spanning from the silent era of the 1930’s up to contemporary pictures directed by the afore mentioned Hungarian master director István Szabó, and young hope Bence Fiegelauf. However this was not the only feature that the festival organizers decided to zoom in on. Among other features were also Mark Cousins’ critically acclaimed Odyssey documentary series about the history of film, a series of films themed on the assassination on Heydrich, and a tribute to Laurence of Arabia director, David Lean.

Finally I asked Ms Korena about what country they planed to focus on next year and why she thinks English speakers might enjoy this festival as well.

Photo: Marek Malušek
“We are still in the process of choosing, but most probably it will be either Finland, southern France or Portugal. I think English listeners would find almost everything here. Ninety percent of our films have English subtitles and most of our international guests speak English of course. Other than that there is of course one of the most beautiful and historic towns in the country, in a region famous for its wine.”

Apart from the beautiful venue offering a rich choice of films to see, the annual festival also offers a number of concerts, exhibitions and film classes.