past
past
past
INDEPENDENT OF REALITY:
THE FILMS OF JAN NĚMEC
TOURING RETROSPECTIVE
NOVEMBER 2013–APRIL 2014

METAMORPHOSIS (Die Verwandlung, 1975)

METAMORPHOSIS


Die Verwandlung, 1975, 52m, Germany
German with electronic English subtitles
with Heinz Bennet, Zdenka Procházková, Edwige Pierre

 

Living in forced exile since 1974, Němec had limited opportunity to make films the way he wanted—the few significant works then were productions made for television. German TV station ZDF gave him the chance to finally turn to Franz Kafka, whom he called his “essential author” and to whom he already paid tribute in Diamonds by placing all the Prague dreamscapes at Kafka’s favorite walks. Taking a typically personal approach, Němec depicts Samsa’s world through a subjective camera, emphasizing his inner world and his observation of shocked family and his surroundings. 

DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT (Démanty noci, 1964) Němec’s first feature length film follows the escape of two young concentration camp prisoners through the woods of Sudetenland and the ensuing pursuit of them.   A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND GUESTS A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND GUESTS (O slavnosti a hostech, 1966) An examination of the mechanics of power and the ways people collaborate in the reality that oppresses them, the film follows a group of middle-aged bourgeois friends as they picnic in the woods on their way to a celebration. PEARLS OF THE DEEP PEARLS OF THE DEEP (Perličky na dně, 1966) A manifesto of the Czechoslovak New Wave, this anthology of five short films by five rising directors is based on a book by the celebrated writer Bohumil Hrabal.  MARTYRS OF LOVE MARTYRS OF LOVE (Mučedníci lásky, 196­7) The most perfect embodiment of Němec’s vision of a film world independent of reality. Mounting a defense of timid, inhibited, clumsy, and unsuccessful individuals, the three protagonists are a complete antithesis of the industrious heroes of socialist aesthetics. ORATORIO FOR PRAGUE ORATORIO FOR PRAGUE (1968) With film stock and camera at his disposal, director Němec was ready to document the invasion by Soviet tanks in August 1968, which crushed the democratization process of the so called Prague Spring. METAMORPHOSIS METAMORPHOSIS (Die Verwandlung, 1975) Taking a typically personal approach, Němec depicts Samsa’s world through a subjective camera, emphasizing his inner world and his observation of shocked family and his surroundings. LATE NIGHT TALKS WITH MOTHER LATE NIGHT TALKS WITH MOTHER (Noční hovory s matkou, 2001) Experimenting with digital video formats, this counterpart to Kafka’s Letter to Father finds the director probing his own psyche in the form of a confessional dialogue with his long deceased mother. TOYEN TOYEN (2005) In one of the most enigmatic films of his career, Němec uses an abstract structure to create this portrait of revered Surrealist painter Toyen. The film, true to the subject’s own style, is an idiosyncratic vision that revisits the most oppressive period of her life. THE FERRARI DINO GIRL THE FERRARI DINO GIRL (Holka Ferrari Dino, 2009) While shooting a documentary about the exciting and hopeful period known as the Prague Spring, Němec and his crew found themselves watching and filming in horror as the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968. GOLDEN SIXTIES: JAN NĚMEC GOLDEN SIXTIES: JAN NĚMEC (Zlatá šedesátá, 2011, dir. Martin Šulík) An illuminating portrait of Jan Němec from a 27-part TV series about masters of the Czechoslovak New Wave. A LOAF OF BREAD A LOAF OF BREAD (Sousto, 1960) Němec’s graduation film follows the story of starving prisoners plotting to steal a piece of bread from a parked train in preparation for their escape. MOTHER AND SON MOTHER AND SON (Moeder en zoon, 1967) An absurdist tale about a doting mother of a brutal torturer.


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