Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors—including eventual Oscar winners Miloš Forman and Ján Kadár—began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement’s essential voices: Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, and Evald Schorm. This mini-season presents that title, along with five other crucial works that followed close on its heels, one from each of those filmmakers — some dazzlingly experimental, some arrestingly realistic, all singular expressions from a remarkable time and place.
Pearls of the Deep / Perlicky na dne
Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm | Czechoslovakia 1966 | 105 minutes
A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression and the versatility of the movement’s directors.
Daisies / Sedmikrásky
Věra Chytilová | Czechoslovakia | 1966 | 74 minutes
Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.
A Report on the Party and Guests / O slavnosti a hostec
Jan Němec | Czechoslovakia | 1966 | 71 minutes
In Jan Němec’s surreal fable, a picnic is rudely transformed into a lesson in political hierarchy when a handful of mysterious authority figures show up.
Return of the Prodigal Son / Návrat ztraceného syna
Evald Schorm | Czechoslovakia | 1967 | 98 minutes
This raw psychological drama about an engineer unable to adjust to the world around him following his suicide attempt is at heart a scathing portrait of social alienation and moral compromise.
Capricious Summer / Rozmarné léto
Jiří Menzel | Czechoslovakia | 1968 | 74 minutes
Two years after his worldwide hit Closely Watched Trains, Jiří Menzel directed this amusing idyll about three middle-aged men whose mellow summer is interrupted by the arrival of a circus performer and his beautiful assistant.
The Joke / Zert
Jaromil Jireš | Czechoslovakia | 1969 80 minutes
Jaromil Jireš’s brilliant adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel tells the fragmentary tale of a man expelled from the Communist Party because of a political joke.