Uherské Hradiště film festival goes ahead despite coronavirus

The 46th annual Summer Film School in Uherské Hradiště, one of the country’s most highly respected film festivals, kicked off in the south Moravian town on Friday. Over the course of six days, it will feature dozens of films, both classics and new releases, as well as concerts and debates.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak the Summer Film School in Uherské Hradiště starts later than usual this year and its programme has been cut to just six days. The screenings and other events are only available for holders of festival passes and take place under strict hygienic conditions.

Jan Jílek is the film school’s programme manager:

“The main thing is that the festival happens at all. When you look at other festivals in the Czech Republic and Europe, it is kind of a miracle.

Andrzej Wajda, photo: Piotr Drabik, CC BY-SA 2.0

“Of course it will be shorter and we won’t screen as many films as usually, but we have really a detailed hygienic plan, so people who come don’t have to be afraid.”

One of the main focuses of this year’s event is a retrospective of Polish director Andrzej Wajda.

“We had to choose very carefully of course from the filmography of Andrzej Wajda, because he was active for many decades and made dozens of films.

“We have decided to show him as a director who was following the Polish history and at the same time creating the history of Polish cinema.

“These films are Ashes and Diamonds, and Man of the marble, which are some of the iconic films from the history of Polish cinema.

“But we are also showing him as a director making great films based on the books by Iwaskiewicz and other Polish authors.”

Every year, the festival presents selected national cinematography. The focus of this year’s Terra Festivalis section is Israel:

“Our visitors will be able to watch contemporary Israeli films which were selected for the big screens. They are films that won major awards, such as Grand Jury Prize from Venice for Foxtrot by Samuel Maoz or Golden Bear from Berlinale for Synonyms by for Nadav Lapid.

“But there are many more films dealing with contemporary Israel; with its history, religion and all the other topics that make the country so interesting not only for Czech but also world audiences.”

'Shadow Country', photo: Czech Television

The festival will close with a world premiere of a new film by a leading Czech director Bohdan Sláma Krajina ve Stínu or Shadow Country:

“It is a black and white film, over two hours long, which offers an insight on a small village in the region of Vitoraz close to Novohradské Hory.

“Today it is a part of Austria but it used to be part of Czechoslovakia. So it is a very special film, which I think needs to be seen on a big screen.”

This year’s Award of the Association of Czech Film Clubs, traditionally handed out the Summer Film School, will go to the great Czech author and screenwriter Vladimír Korner.