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Getting To Know Each Other’s Culture Through Film

Little known new-wave Slovak films from the late 1960s were shown in Berlin last month as part of the Slovak Film Festival

October 19th, 2016
Linda Vavricova, News from Berlin
Last month, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Institute in Berlin hosted a film festival entitled ‘Slowakische Neue Welle’ (Slovak New Wave) at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. The festival presented mostly little known Slovak films, many of which had never been seen in Germany.

Films produced in the so-called ‘Slovak new-wave’ in the second half of the 1960s are not well known in Germany, but in Slovakia represent the most significant decade in the history of Slovak cinema.

The relaxation of communist control before the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 enabled the creation of the Slovak new wave, which transformed Slovak films from being merely a tool for propaganda.

‘To Catch the Sun in a Net’, directed by Štefan Uher, is considered to be the first film of the Slovak new-wave movement. It was the first film reflecting the period of relaxation of communist control in Slovakia, and focuses on many socially and politically themes that were unacceptaced at the time.

The festival opened with the 1962 film 'The Boxer and Death‘directed by Peter Solana, which is set in a concentration camp during World War II.

Also shown at the festival was the 1966 film ‘Before This Night Is Over‘, which takes place at the Slovak night club ‘Družba‘ over the period of one night and is famous for its exploration of the psychology of its characters.  

The festival also featured Štefan Uher ‘The Organ‘ from 1964, which reconstructs the period of 1939-1945 in Slovak republic and was the first film to portray a realistic face of Slovak society during the First Slovak republic.

Other films shown at the festival include ‘The Return of Dragon’, directed by Eduard Grečner in 1967, based on a novel by Czechoslovakian writer Dobroslav Chrobák, and ‘Pictures of the Old World‘, a documentary by Dušan Hanák, about elderly people living on the outskirts of civilization.

Also shown was a film by perhaps the most well-known Slovak director, Juraj Jakubisko, called ‘Birds, Orphans and Fools‘,which tells the story of three people orphaned by political violence and was banned by the Soviet regime.

Lastly, the festival included a film from the aftermath of the First World War called ‘Field Lilies‘, which portrays war veterans returning back to a Slovak village and trying to find meaning in their lives after the war.


News from Berlin