Thank you for the 11th year

Nine days ago, the excited voices of actors and actresses fell silent in the gothic castle kitchen, so let me thank all those who contributed more or less to the fact that we could enjoy the unique atmosphere of film noir in the exceptional surroundings of Český Šternberk Castle for four days.
A big thank you to the whole festival team who prepared the 11th edition for you in the not-so-favourable temperatures in most of the halls, and I would like to bow to all the patrons and guests who came to support us personally. On behalf of all of them I would like to name the premiere patron, which was the still young 88 year old Libuše Švormová 🙂 !
And last but not least, I want to thank all the big and small partners of the festival, the castle administration, the many donors this year and in fact everyone who bought a ticket for just one single film. I will humbly repeat myself, without all of you we could only dream of the Noir Film Festival… Thank you!
Vitek Grigartzik, executive director of the NFF

Eddie Muller on Argentine films

Eddie Muller, president of the Film Noir Foundation, which is responsible for the restoration of the Argentine noirs we screened this year, made a video commentary for our festival on these noir gems of 1950s Argentine cinema. Thank you, we are honoured. 🖤

Main partners of the 11th Noir Film Festival

Thank you to our main partners this year, which are the The Central Bohemia Region and innogy.

Giuseppe Boccassini guest at NFF 2023

One of the guests of the Noir Film Festival 2023 will be Giuseppe Boccassini, German-based Italian filmmaker and program director of the renowned Berlin experimental film festival Fracto. His work is regularly featured in film festivals and exhibitions around the world – such as a subversively conceived montage film based on imaginative work with found footage called ragtag, which was screened in the Venice Classics section and and we’re presenting it in a Special Screening at this year’s Noir Film Festival.

Boccassini bases his work on the transformation and manipulation of various sources of archival material – in this case footage from a plethora of classic films noir, which he layers on top of each other in a rapid-fire editing process of multiple repetitions with ingenious soundtrack in loops, in the style of a master DJ, adding new meanings to the original ones and creating a unique, audiovisually intoxicating and unforgettable artifact. Look forward to it! 💥

Czechoslovak noir

In the traditional section presenting selected Czechoslovak film and television titles with noir aspects, you can look forward to Karel Kachyna’s adventure/psychological film Smugglers of Death (1959), in which a rookie border guard searches for a mysterious smuggler in the tricky Šumava forests. We offer a counterview in the form of a miniseries by David Ondříček in the Special Screenings section. In Tragic Monday (1960), director Milan Vošmik, famous for his children’s and family films with a crime plot, depicts the coping of three nine-year-old boys with the weight of their conscience after a tragic accident happened to their classmate. A psychological drama set in a Slovak court setting, linked to a case involving the rape and murder of a girl, is offered by Martin Hollý Jr.’s A Case for the Defence Attorney (1964), whose dark Ballad of the Seven Hanged was featured last year. Drahomíra Vihanová’s feature debut, Squandered Sunday (1969), about a day in the life of Lieutenant Arnost, has an atmosphere of anxiety that is heightened by the knowledge that the film did not enter distribution until more than 20 years later and the director was not allowed to work in feature films. The section closes with Jiri Sequens Sr’s TV film Confrontation (1971), an adaptation of Patrick Quentin’s novel The Green-Eyed Monster, in which the protagonist must find the killer in order to remove suspicion from himself.

Veronika Zýková

Introducing the Special Screenings section

Special Screenings traditionally fulfil several functions: they complement the main program, highlight special events and anniversaries and present current work influenced by film noir. Jiří Krejčík’s Midnight Mass returns to the program after four years on the occasion of its release on DVD. David Ondříček’s television project The King of Šumava: The Phantom of the Dark Land offers an updated interpretation of the story of the infamous smuggler Josef Hasil, which was given a biased treatment by Karel Kachyňa in the late 1950s (see the section on Czechoslovak noir). Prey was also made for television (and based on the novel by Emile Zola) and it will commemorate the actress Hana Maciuchová, who was one of the biggest supporters of our festival until her death in 2021. And finally, the short film Xpendables and the feature-length ragtag and Night to Be Gone prove that film noir is still a rich well of inspiration for contemporary filmmakers.

Argentine Noir

In 2017, we presented a selection of „black“ films from Mexico as part of our traditional excursion into non-American forms of film noir. After six years, we return to South America, specifically to Argentina, where the socio-politically turbulent period between 1946 and 1955 during the presidency of General Juan Domingo Perón, a sympathizer of Italian fascism, had a significant impact on the work of many filmmakers there. As the film historian Imogen Sara Smith has commented, films made during the Perón era „tell of a turbulent, conflict-ridden time – which for some represented a period of oppression and for others an era of justice and national pride. Crime and superstition collide in works that exemplify the tradition of film noir, yet are little known outside their geographical area – and sinister figures, crime and violence are omnipresent on the gritty streets of Buenos Aires.“

These noir gems would be de facto unknown outside Argentina were it not for the research activities of local film historian Fernando Martín Peña. With the institutional help of the US-based Film Noir Foundation and its president Eddie Muller, UCLA in California, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the selected works were restored and presented to a contemporary audience a few years ago – among others, as part of Peña and Muller’s curatorial selection at MoMA in New York, at the prestigious Austrian Viennale, and at the traveling American festival Noir City organized by Muller’s Film Noir Foundation.

Four of these exceptional works are being brought to the Czech Republic this year: a distinctive remake of Fritz Lang’s M (1931), which was made in Argentina under the title The Black Vampire (1953) by the acclaimed Uruguayan-born director Román Viñoly Barreto, from whom we will also present the visually arresting noir The Beast Must Die (1952), about a crime writer obsessed with revenge. In line with this year’s main programming section will be the noir The Bitter Stems (1956), directed by Fernando Ayala, about a treacherous journalist profiting from the blind trust of others. The selection will be rounded off by the socially engaged adaptation of African-American Richard Wright’s novel Native Son (1951), which, because of the sharp confrontation between the black and white communities in the US at the time, could not be made in Hollywood and was thus made by French director Pierre Chenal in Argentine exile with Wright in the lead role.

Jana Bébarová

The complete program of the 11th edition is coming soon!

On Monday 26 June we will announce the expected full program of the Noir Film Festival 2023. From this day onwards, the pre-sale of individual tickets for the film screenings and two concerts in the accompanying program will start.


“And thus is born this weird figure of the dark… This avenger of evil: The Batman.”

The Dark Knight seems to have risen from noir. When cartoonist Bob Kane and screenwriter Bill Finger came together to shape it in the late 1930s, they drew inspiration primarily from four sources. Leonardo Da Vinci’s visionary sketches and plans for a flying machine determined the shape of the bat wings, while the mysterious avenger Zorro catered to the dual identity and cave hideout. In the end, though, it was one pulp character and one piece of cinematic trash that gave the young creatives the distinct hallmarks of the beloved noir darkness. On one side stood the originally radio, later comic and film character The Shadow, a swaggering millionaire by day, a masked avenger by night, hat on his head and revolver in hand, and on the other the long-forgotten, if formally interesting, mystery thriller The Bat Whispers, featuring a mysterious killer dubbed The Bat.

Both of these early 1930s inspirations are still a long way from what Nic Pizzolatto, the later writer and creator of the True Detective crime-series, would fatally call “the single greatest humanitarian crusade the world has ever known,” but the roots of noir stretch confidently back to the triumphant May 1939. It was then, in the pages of the legendary Detective Comics notebook (issue twenty-Seven), that America first saw The Case of the Chemical Syndicate, starring the brooding Bat-Man. But as the festival itself heralds, noir simply has no boundaries. And (Lego) Batman certainly doesn’t!

The basic building blocks of Gotham City may have been laid, but the aim of this winged section is to turn on the bat radar and explore other possible caves – flitting from Tim Burton’s gothic art-deco (Batman, 1989) to Christopher Nolan’s riotous urban-thriller (The Dark Knight, 2008) to Matt Reeves’ Fincher-esque neo-noir full of rain, mud and big question marks (The Batman, 2022).

By the way, did someone mention LEGO Batman?

Ondřej Čížek

Retrospective: Joan Harrison

It’s no secret that the American film industry has historically not offered (and still does not offer) equal employment opportunities to men and women. During the studio system era, hundreds of women found work as actresses, editors, writers, agents, PR professionals, costume designers, makeup artists, or talent scouts, but hierarchically higher and better paid directing and producing positions were rather rare. One of the most notable exceptions is Joan Harrison (1907–1994).

Harrison was born in Guildford, England, into a well-to-do family of a newspaper publisher. She received a good education (she studied, among other things, at the Sorbonne in Paris) and became Alfred Hitchcock’s assistant at the age of twenty-five after answering an advertisement. His confidence in the young woman grew, and Harrison was soon promoted to screenwriter, a position she officially held for the first time on Jamaica Inn (1939). She then followed Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville overseas to Hollywood, where she worked on such films as Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941) and Saboteur (1942). She was twice nominated for an Academy Award for her work.

Her contribution to these well-received films led to a major career shift when Harrison became a producer in 1943 with The Phantom Lady (1944). In the years that followed, she made her mark as a producer of dark, gothic thrillers, including The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), Nocturne (1946), They Won’t Believe Me, and Ride the Pink Horse (both 1947). She repeatedly got to work with directors Robert Siodmak and Robert Montgomery during this time, but eventually returned to her original employer, Alfred Hitchcock, in the mid-1950s, for whom she produced the popular TV anthologies Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–1963).

The Noir Film Festival continues to highlight the contributions of creative women and, following director/producer Ida Lupino and writer Patricia Highsmith, will focus its retrospective on Joan Harrison who deserves to be known as more that “the one who helped Hitchcock.” The program will include Suspicion (1941), Dark Waters (1944), Nocturne (1946) and They Won’t Believe Me (1947) and selected episodes from Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Milan Hain


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