Foto: Barrandov film studios

This week in Mailbox: the beneficial properties of sea water once again, the Barrandov film studios in Prague, an Oscar for Czech musician Markéta Irglová, the 30th anniversary of Czech cosmonaut Vladimír Remek’s flight into space. Listeners quoted: Robert Fraser, Howard Barnett, Stephen Hrebenach, Thomas Kuca.

Welcome to Mailbox, the programme for your questions and comments here on Radio Prague.

Robert Fraser from Maine returns to a January report by Jan Velinger on a medical research project studying the beneficial properties of sea water. We also discussed the story here on Mailbox a month ago. Robert Fraser offers other useful tips:

“Interesting that idea of using seawater as a nasal spray for children’s colds. We use it in a variety of ways. Soak a bruised finger in hot salt water and it alleviates the pain, also a sprained ankle. Soaking will also cause a splinter to come out almost by itself. I and my friend often soak in seawater at the beach to clear up rashes caused by poison ivy. And I suppose it would work on most skin rashes. Too bad you are not near an ocean, you may find many more uses for the water.”

Too bad indeed. But even in this landlocked country many people swear by the healing power of the sea. Doctors will often recommend that parents take their young children for a seaside holiday to improve their health. They say sometimes two weeks by the sea can work wonders and help people get rid of persisting colds or some types of eczema.

Howard Barnett who listens to our programmes on shortwave in England wants us to clarify a few things:

“I was listening to your broadcast on Friday 25th January where I heard a report on the Czech film industry. As I understand it, it is 75 years old. And I was wondering if you would answer the following questions and they are what is the correct spelling of Barrandov? Next I would like to know where the film industry is located? And finally what Czech films have been successful overseas, if any?”

Prague’s Barrandov film studios indeed celebrated their 75th birthday in January. They were founded by the father and uncle of the former Czech president Václav Havel. The site is located in the southwest of the capital on a hill above the Vltava River. The district is called Barrandov after the French geologist and paleontologist Joachim Barrande who carried out excavations on the site in the 19th century and unearthed a whole range of fossilized prehistoric creatures.

Since their foundation, the studios have housed over 2,500 film shoots including many international productions. As far as Czech movies achieving international acclaim is concerned, Czechs film directors have several Academy Awards and nominations under their belt. For example Miloš Forman whose 1960s features “Loves of a Blonde” and “The Firemen’s Ball” received Oscar nominations when he was still a Czechoslovak citizen. After he relocated to the United States, Miloš Forman continued making Oscar-winning films. Another 1960s picture, “The Shop on Main Street” by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos won the 1965 Academy Award for best foreign language film. The 1966 film “Closely Watched Trains” by Czech director Jiří Menzel won the 1967 Academy Award for best foreign language film. Director Jan Svěrák has two Oscars: his 1988 short film “Ropáci” received the Academy Award for best student film and his 1996 feature Kolya won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

And while on the topic of Oscars, regular listeners to Radio Prague will know that just two weeks ago, the young Czech musician Markéta Irglová along with the Irish singer Glen Hansard won the Academy Award for best original song with their composition “Falling Slowly”. And our listener Stephen Hrebenach from Ohio sent us his reaction:

“Well done to Markéta Irglová for winning an Oscar. I finally saw the movie ‘Once’ just last week and it was really lovely. Wonderful story and music. And to think that I would have missed it, except that I heard about it on Radio Prague. That prompted me to seek out the movie. It took a little time to find it where I live, but it was worth the effort.”

We are certainly glad to hear that. Let me just add that Markéta’s success at this year’s Oscars was not the only Czech-related achievement. “The Counterfeiters”, based on the memoirs of Prague resident Adolf Burger, won the Academy Award for best foreign language film. Mr Burger was born in Slovakia but has been living here in Prague since after the Second World War. The film is based on his book “The Devil’s Workshop” which was first published here in the 1970s.

Vladimír Remek,  photo: CTK
And in a perfect timing, Thomas Kuca from New York added this question in a postscript to his competition answer last month:

“What became of Czech cosmonaut Vladimír Remek, who flew into space 30 years ago?”

Vladimír Remek, who is now 59, is currently a Member of the European Parliament. He was elected in June 2004 for the Communist Party though he is not a member. The anniversary of his flight was last Sunday and this past Tuesday, Radio Prague aired a report on it. In case you missed it, you can look it up on our website both in sound and text.

And finally, let me repeat our monthly competition question. Four of you who answer correctly will receive small prizes from Radio Prague:

March’s mystery man was born in 1861 in the town of Heřmanův Městec. Besides being a prolific writer, translator, teacher and later President Masaryk’s chief of protocol, he was also one of the founding members of the International Olympic Committee and its general secretary at one point.

The address for your answers as well as questions and comments is Radio Prague, 12099, Prague or much quicker [email protected]. Till next week, bye-bye.