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IN AND OUT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE
Starting August 2, 2019
MORGIANA (1972) courtesy of Czech National Film Archive
JURAJ HERZ: IN AND OUT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE
Film retrospective North American tour starts August 2, 2019 at Metrograph, New York
This touring retrospective runs concurrently with the Janus Films release of the newly restored masterpiece THE CREMATOR. Four of the films are presented with newly translated subtitles.
The singular career of the prolific film director and occasional actor Juraj Herz is without parallel in the context of the cinema emerging from Czechoslovakia starting in the mid 1960s. He was a breed apart and decidedly a filmmaker of excess—in his visual style and art direction, as well as in the abundance of horror and eroticism in his genre-bending dark comedies, fairy tales, and dramas. Under the surface of genre, he smuggled in clear-eyed and engaged social and political commentary, while attaining the heights in his mastery of the formal language of cinema.
Herz entered the Prague scene at the same time as the core group of filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave, though he never truly considered himself one of them. Even if he personally operated on its margins, however, his most important film, the psychological horror THE CREMATOR, and a number of his other works, fall squarely among the best films of the Wave and address the same issues. This led censors to intervene often, but being one of the most bankable film directors in the country assured him work, apart from a few brief spells, throughout his career.
His penchant for the macabre, his gothic style, and his examination of the underbelly of the human psyche made Herz a darling of the fantasy and horror film scene, and in the past couple of decades his films have achieved cult status among genre film geeks in Europe and the U.S. alike.
Continue reading notes on the director by Irena Kovarova here.
The touring retrospective is produced by Comeback Company. Curated by Irena Kovarova. Originated at the Metrograph, New York. Films provided by the Czech National Film Archive and První veřejnoprávní. Photos courtesy of Czech National Archive except where noted otherwise.
Alex Zucker; Martina Raclavská; Michal Bregant, Tomáš Žůrek, Kateřina Fojtová, Czech National Film Archive; Čestmír Kopecký, První veřejnoprávní.
Film notes: Metrograph/Nick Pinkerton
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