Prague IFF ‘Febiofest’ to premiere Karel Gott documentary, pay tribute to Jiří Menzel


Febiofest – the Prague International Film Festival – gets underway on Friday, the same day a giant of Czech cinema, the director Jiří Menzel, is laid to rest. In his honour, the festival is screening three classic Menzel films, including the Oscar-winner ‘Closely Watched Trains’. Febiofest will also premiere a documentary about another Czech cultural icon, the late singer Karel Gott, alongside screenings of other exceptional films from major festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Venice.

Ivan Trojan in 'Charlatan',  photo: Marlene Film Production

The proverbial red carpet is already in place at Prague’s Slovanský dům cinema, where this evening actor Vlasta Korec will emcee a show open to the public – who along with each ticket purchased will receive two facemasks and be seated in line with anti-coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

But apart from being postponed many months and compelled to switch venues, Febiofest is going ahead pretty much as originally planned in March, artistic director Marta Švecová Lamperová says

“Probably the biggest change is that we had to move it from Anděl to the centre of Prague, to Slovanský dům, and add other cinema venues – we’re cooperating for example with Kino Pilotů. But, basically, the entire programme is going ahead.

'Karel' | Photo: Bontonfilm
“Unfortunately, some films are not being distributed as planned back in March, but on the other hand due to a release delay we are very fortunate to have [Agnieska Holland’s] ‘Charlatan’ and new films like Olga Malířová Špátová’s documentary film ‘Karel’, about Karel Gott.”

Špátová’s film, which comes a year after the singer’s death, is billed as a unique insight into the private life and soul of the Czech pop singer known in Germany as “the Bohemian nightingale” and to much of Europe and the world as “the Sinatra of the East”.

Febiofest is now in its 27th year. As always, the popular cinema showcase features a range of films from across the globe alongside Czech premieres. Among the most anticipated is the zany Israeli film ‘Mossad’, screening within the new Comedy Competition. The competition is being judged by a jury no less than 33 film buffs, led by actress Dana Morávková.

‘Servants‘,  photo: archive of Febiofest

On Saturday, the Main Competition kicks off with a screening of the Slovak-Czech-Irish-Romanian drama ‘Servants’, an Iron Curtain kind of noir, to be presented by its director, Ivan Ostrochovský:

“It is set in the year 1980, at a theological seminary in Slovakia under close surveillance by the secret police. It centres on two young students who struggle to keep their faith when learning so many have taken the easier path of collaborating with the regime.”

Among other highlights, Saturday will also see the arrival in Prague of Danish star actor and filmmaker Ulrich Thomsen, who will present his film ‘Gutterbee’, an idiosyncratic social satire about “sausages, friendship and intolerance”.

As for the sidebar dedicated to the late Czech New Wave legend Jiří Menzel, on hand to introduce his long-banned classic ‘Larks on a String’ will be his widow Olga Menzelová, while ‘Capricious Summer’ will be preceded by a Q&A with the prominent film journalist Jan Foll.

Febiofest runs until September 25. Tickets to individual screenings are available at the box offices of the cinemas Cinema City Slovanský dům, Kino Ponrepo, Edison Filmhub and Kino Pilotů. Viewers can purchase festival passes for three, five or eight days at the box office at Cinema City Slovanský dům.