Project bringing classic films to Czech schools

Why is the most important art form of the 20th century not being studied at Czech secondary schools? That is a question being asked by a group of people in the Czech film world, who have started a project to introduce classic films - accompanied by seminars and lectures - to the country's school system. The project is the brainchild of Jiri Kralik, the director of the Summer Film School in Uherske Hradiste. Ivo Andrle, who runs the independent cinema Aero in Prague, is also involved. I spoke to Ivo Andrle earlier, and asked him what was the basic idea behind the project.

"As you might know, in Czech schools the students are being taught about architecture a little bit, they're definitely being taught about music, they tell them about painting, and all classical forms of arts, except for audio-visual, except for films, video. As today's teenagers I believe spend most of their time with audio-vision, if they want to be entertained, we believe that part of the education should be telling them why some films could be better than others, try to teach them what are the basic films from film history, why they are good."

How big is the project so far?

"Well, the project so far is big on paper but small actually in the real world. We are talking about buying 170 films for distribution, which is a lot of money. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture - which we believe should be involved - of course, they think this is a nice project, but I think they are kind of waiting for us to prove that this project should work. We started on a small scale. Jirka Kralik, who is actually the father of this project, started working really hard on this in his region, in Uherske Hradiste, south Moravia, where he got involved all of the local high schools in the project. We're starting something even smaller here in Prague."

How have kids reacted in the schools where the project has been running?

"You know how kids react when you tell them about music, when you take them to a classical concert. Some of them might get actually hit and explore a new world, and get interested. Some of them are yelling at the conductor, you know, bad words. Same with films; when you show them classic films of course you get part of the kids very interested, part of them just get inert, not interested, not awakened."

You say you want to buy 170 films; how many of those are Czech?

"I don't have the list here on me, but there is about five to ten of them that are Czech. Mostly from the 60s, the classics...or some (Milos) Forman, if you want to call some of the Forman films Czech, that he made in the States. Yeah, you could find probably five, rather than ten."