Czech Avant-garde Film

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Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311CAF exam 2 28 hours (45 min) of instruction per semester, 29 to 39 hours of self-study English summer

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Czech avant-garde and experimental film in historical overview. We will follow the path of those films and authors, whose creative works were driven by an inner need of expression or the desire of discovering unique and author-bound means of expression of the film language.

There are two key aspects that specify the history of the Czech avant-garde film (sometimes called as an experimental film): The first would be the discontinuity of it's development, caused mostly by the social and historical changes of the 20th century that took place in central Europe. The second aspect is a certain retardation and delayed development, compared to similar movements in Europe or overseas. We can determine three fairly isolated stages in the development of Czech avant-garde during the 20th century: the thirties, seventies-eighties and finally the nineties.

Thus the significance of the Czech avant-garde cannot be simply derived from a comparison with the development in other countries and a fixation on the superficial criteria of „novelty“ or „freshness“. The main criterion should be how these mentally independent films managed to address and affect the social situation and cinematography of the time.

We will concentrate solely on pictures that were created using film stock and were projected from film (which is why we will not discuss “video art“ or the so called “New media”). However, many of the original films are damaged or hard to access. That is why we will, unfortunately, watch these pictures only in an electronic form (various examples screened on DVD or VHS), which of course deprives us of the unique act of light projection from the original film material.

(If it would be possible, we could make one additional screening of some selected works from original 16 mm or 35mm film prints.)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

-understand the basic terms (events) from Czechoslovakian history (First Czechoslovak Republic, Munich Agreement, German Occupation – Protectorate, February 1948, Prague Spring 1968, Normalization, Velvet revolution etc)

-explain the basic political, cultural and social differences in the certain period of Czechoslovak history

-describe the mutual relationship between Cs. Avant-garde-Film and the other branches of art

-define the peculiarities of the Cs. Avantgarde and their changings during the 20th century („classical avantgarde“ of the 30s, „Amateurs’s underground”film of the 70s- 80s, experimental film of the 90s, etc.)

-analyse the contribution of the most important persons of Cs. Avantgarde film (Alexander Hackenschmied, Čeněk Zahradníček, Karel & Irena Dodalovi, Jiří Lehovec, Miroslav Janek, Petr Skala, Pavel Marek, Martin Blažíček etc.)

Prerequisites and other requirements

This course is suitable for anyone able to open her or his eyes and mind.



Evaluation methods and criteria

Class attendance and participation is mandatory in order to pass the course.

Exam: a written test, which will examine students’ basic knowledge of the material covered in class (date of exam – end of April).


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Further information

No schedule has been prepared for this course

The subject is a part of the following study plans