Film Love presents
Diamonds of the Night (Jan Němec, 1964) courtesy of National Film Archive, Prague
The 1960s films of Jan Němec
Three screenings of films from the classic New Wave
February 28, March 1, and March 4, 2014
8:00 pm at White Hall, Emory University
Since the 1960s, the Czechoslovak New Wave has been recognized as one of the peaks of world cinema, and Jan Němec is one of the movement's greatest figures. His three 1960s feature films – a moving tale of two prisoners’ escape during the Holocaust, an absurdist satire on the mechanics of power, and a uniquely Surrealist-influenced musical – are emotionally powerful and intellectually rigorous fables that gained an international reputation in their time. Yet today, they are almost totally unavailable here. Film Love is proud to present three nights of Němec’s 1960s films, drawn from his first major retrospective now touring the U.S.
The program's centerpiece is a new 35mm print of Diamonds of the Night (1964). Němec's first feature film follows two young men through the countryside after their escape from a train bound for a World War II concentration camp. In a mere sixty-four minutes of screen time, we are taken deeply into the physical and mental experience of escape and pursuit. The film’s stunning cinematography, its unique mix of intense realism with hallucinatory Surrealism, and its deep compassion for humanity embody the spirit of the New Wave. A legendary film, Diamonds of the Night is currently out of print on video in the U.S. It is accompanied by Němec's previous film A Loaf of Bread, a short companion piece about the attempt of a group of prisoners to procure forbidden food for their own escape.
A landmark work of 1960s cinema, Report on the Party and the Guests (1966) is widely considered to be Němec's masterpiece. This satiric, absurdist fable takes place in an unspecified country during an undisclosed time, in which a group of bourgeois picnickers find themselves coerced into attending an outdoor party run by a sinister chairman and his ridiculous henchman. Gradually the individuals learn how to collaborate with the leader – though one man refuses to conform and resists by silently leaving the party. His fate drives the final sequence of the film. Courageous and uncompromising, Report on the Party and the Guests was notoriously "banned forever" by the government, and was a major factor in Němec's exile to the United States. Like Diamonds of the Night, it lasts under seventy minutes and is a model of concision in cinematic storytelling.
Far less known than Němec's other 1960s works, Martyrs of Love (1967) is a unique blend of musical comedy and Surrealist fantasy. Three separate stories present characters who are unlucky in love in the real world, yet find emotional, romantic and erotic connections through their daydreams and fantasies. Rarely screened, Martyrs of Love is essential to understanding the deep ties between the Czechoslovak New Wave and Surrealism. Like Diamonds of the Night, it is completely unavailable in the U.S.
Jan Němec's films from the classic New Wave period are a remarkable body of work, existing at a complex and unique intersection of allegory, realism and Surrealism. These haunting and resonant works provide a compassionate but uncompromising view of twentieth-century history and the individuals caught up in it.
All screenings are in 35mm and take place at White Hall, Emory University beginning at 8 pm.
Friday, February 28, 2014 | 8:00 pm | White Hall room 208
Diamonds of the Night (1964, 64 minutes) newly struck 35mm archival print
A Loaf of Bread (1960, 11 minutes, 35mm)
Saturday, March 1, 2014 | 8:00 pm | White Hall room 205
A Report on the Party and the Guests (1966, 70 minutes, 35mm)
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 8:00 pm | White Hall room 208
Martyrs of Love (1967, 71 minutes, 35mm)
Directions and Parking
Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Němec, 1966) courtesy of National Film Archive, Prague
The Jan Němec programs are co-sponsored by the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, Russian and East European Studies, the Visual Scholarship Initiative, the Department of History, and the Center for Creativity and the Arts at Emory. Diamonds of the Night is co-sponsored by the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University.
The screenings presented by Emory University are part of a touring retrospective of Jan Nemec films INDEPENDENT OF REALITY: The Films of Jan Nemec in North America, premiered by BAMcinématek in New York. The retrospective is produced by Comeback Company, curated by Irena Kovarova, and organized in partnership with the National Film Archive, Prague, Aerofilms, and Jan Nemec-Film.
THE 1960s FILMS OF JAN NĚMEC is a Film Love event, programmed and hosted by Andy Ditzler. Film Love promotes awareness of the rich history of experimental, avant-garde, and rare film. Through public screenings and events, Film Love preserves the communal viewing experience, provides space for the discussion of film as art, and explores alternative forms of moving image projection and viewing. Film Love was voted Atlanta’s Best Film Series by the critics of Creative Loafing in 2006, and was featured in Atlanta Magazine's Best of Atlanta 2009.