Tento text původně vznikl pro americký čtvrtletník NOIR CITY. Kvůli změnám v jeho vedení ale nakonec nebyl publikován. Proto jsme se rozhodli umístit jej alespoň na blog, kde si snad najde své čtenáře. Článek neprošel anglickou jazykovou korekturou.
Czech noir fans finally got what they were looking for for several years: the country's first film noir festival took place last summer, August 21–25. What follows is not an objective and unbiased report, but rather an insider's summation of the event.
The Birth of the Idea
The idea for Noir Film Kokořín 2013 originated with Vít Grigartzik from Prague's Era Art Club which earlier in the previous year showcased several examples of classical film noir to generally enthusiastic responses. Grigartzik sensed that there might be a potential for a larger event and turned to the authors of Film Noir Blog, the only website in Czech specializing in film noir run by Jana Bébarová and myself. We immediately embraced the idea and agreed to participate on the project as programmers.
|Jana Bébarová and Milan Hain|
The process of selecting films for the festival was an agonizing one because we realized from the start we could only include about twenty noirs out of several hundred. We also felt the urgent need to balance to program so as to attract both film noir enthusiasts and people who had never even heard the term. We decided to open the festival with Double Indemnity which proved an ideal introduction to the nightmarish universe of film noir. Most of the other films were grouped into four program sections. “Hard-boiled noir” presented screen adaptations of literary works by Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) and James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice). The “Women of Film Noir” section consisted of three films with strong female protagonists (but not necessarily femmes fatales): Laura, Mildred Pierce (another Cain adaptation) and Gilda. The tribute to Marilyn Monroe, composed of The Asphalt Jungle, Don't Bother to Knock and Niagara, proved an unexpected success, confirming the undying legacy of this legendary actress. The last section highlighted what we consider examples of Czechoslovak/Czech film noir, namely Guard 13 (13. revír), …and the Fifth Rider Is Fear (…a pátý jezdec je Strach) and Smart Philip (Mazaný Filip).
Outside of these program sections we screened four additional films and one TV mini-series. Dark Passage and Leave Her to Heaven were meant as tributes to noir icons Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney, respectively. Joseph H. Lewis' The Big Combo was selected for Saturday's midnight screening, testing the endurance of the most loyal visitors. The mini-series Mildred Pierce provided an opportunity to compare this ambitious HBO project with the film version of the same novel produced by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz in the 1940s. The festival was fittingly wrapped up with the screening of Robert Aldrich's “apocalyptic noir” Kiss Me Deadly.
Noir Film Kokořín can be partly seen as a bold experiment because the festival was not held in Prague – or any other big city for that matter – but completely outside of the urban jungle, in the village of Kokořínský Důl with 13 permanent residents (data from 2001). Kokořínský Důl, however, lies in the heart of a beautiful region called Kokořínsko known for its sandstone formations and miles of tourist trails and is conveniently located approximately 40 miles north of the Czech capital. The festival thus provided an opportunity to combine an active holiday in nature with a unique cultural experience.
Valley is dominated by a charming castle built in 1320 and reconstructed a
hundred years ago in the style of late Romanticism. It was in the castle's courtyard
where the evening screenings took place. Despite the cold weather more than one
hundred visitors found their way to the castle to watch Niagara and Leave
Her to Heaven, two Technicolor noirs that also turned out to be the biggest
hits of the festival. Truhlárna Gallery (named Humphrey Bogart Hall for the
duration of the festival) and a conference hall in Pobuda Restaurant (Gene
Tierney Hall) were used as additional screening venues with seating capacities
of eighty and forty seats, respectively.
Guests and accompanying events
Among the visitors were many popular actors and actresses known from film and television. Some of them – for example Zlata Adamovská or Michaela Badinková – gladly agreed to serve as official patrons of the festival. The screening of Smart Philip, a hilarious parody of noir adaptations of hard-boiled novels, was preceded by a lively discussion with the director Václav Marhoul, actor Tomáš Hanák and actress Vilma Cibulková.
the screenings were concerts of jazz pianist Beata Hlavenková, folk singer
Slávek Janoušek, young singers Ondřej Ruml and Radka Pavlovčinová and a string
|Václav Marhoul, Vít Grigartzik, Vilma Cibulková and Tomáš Hanák|
Next Year's Edition
Judging from the overall attendance and reactions of individual visitors, the festival – in spite of occasional organizational slips – can be considered a success. We've also received support from the Czech branch of HBO, the Czech Ministry of Culture and numerous other public institutions, private companies and individuals. All of them made our process of deciding whether to continue or not much easier: next year's edition of Noir Film Festival will take place 21–24 August 2014 at the royal Castle Křivoklát, approximately 50 km west of Prague. Fans of film noir – and readers of NOIR CITY in particular – are most heartily welcome.
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