The complete program of the 10th edition released

It’s here! Starting today, you can find the complete 10th edition programme on our website. In addition to the previously announced Blacklisted section and the Edgar G. Ulmer retrospective, we will also present David Fincher’s neo-noirs, a selection of Spanish noirs and tributes to Hollywood acting icons Rita Hayworth and Robert Taylor, among others. We will also pay tribute to the work of Slovak actress Emilia Vášáryová and Czech actress Hana Maciuchová.

Spanish Noir

That film noir is not just an American phenomenon is made clear to visitors every year by the section mapping its geographical overlap. After last year’s excursion into Bollywood cinema, this year it will once again return to Europe and recall famous but also forgotten noirs from Spain. Alongside the well-known Death of a Cyclist (1955), directed by Juan Antonio Bardem, there will be films such as Express Train from Andalucía (1956), Red Fish (1955), Ditirambo (1969) and The Glass Eye (1956), an adaptation of a work by the American author of hard-boiled literature Cornell Woolrich.

Czechoslovak Noir

The program tradition also includes films of domestic provenance. The five titles include, among others, the silent film The Poisoned Light (1921) directed by Jan S. Kolár and Karel Lamač, which will be accompanied by the cellist Terezie Kovalová. Karel Höger’s charisma will dazzle the audience in the drama A Dead Man Among the Living (1946) directed by Bořivoj Zeman in the Thursday evening open air screening in the Kašpar Sternberg Courtyard. On the occasion of the festival, the film will be released in cooperation with Magic Box as part of the festival DVD edition.

Special Screenings: Iveta, Redl and Pierrot le fou

„I am extremely pleased that we are able to present the Czech TV miniseries Iveta (2022) directed by Michal Samir about the beginnings of the star career of the Czech singer Iveta Bartošová and her colleague Petr Sepeši. A femme fatale, a homme fatal, a fateful meeting, a star image and impressive visuals are typical noir aspects, so this series definitely belongs in our festival program“, comments Jana Bébarová on the selection. „The mission of our festival is to highlight the diversity of the noir phenomenon and to appreciate underrated titles, which I think Iveta is,“ she adds.

The next TV miniseries to be screened will be Redl (2018), which will be personally presented by director Jan Hřebejk and screenwriter Miro Šifra. In the Special Screenings, audiences can also look forward to the Jean-Luc Godard-directed gem Pierrot le fou (1965), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina and featuring an unforgettable cameo by American director Samuel Fuller. Following Fuller’s retrospective at the 2018 NFF, his work will be revisited with the noir Underworld U.S.A. (1961).

A full report on the 10th edition can be found on the 25fps website.

Dark visions of David Fincher

David Fincher is known for many things – perfectionism, versatility, fascination with modern technology, „torturing“ his actors, actresses and crew by repeating shots dozens of times, and for his programmatic rejection of the idea of the „Fincher signature“ often attributed to him. In interviews, which he gives only sporadically, he repeatedly expresses that he does not want to be associated with a particular theme or style. In his view, he resists the frighteningly binding concept of the authorial image, which he perceives as reductive and stupid. In short, Fincher is not comfortable explaining the contexts of his films, convinced that they speak for themselves. As a filmmaker who never writes scripts, he considers himself a „mere“ interpreter. In sports terminology, he considers the director to be the quarterback.

Even so, Fincher is far from a laborer in a Hollywood dream factory – he chooses his subjects carefully, approaches their development with consistency, and, apart from the unfortunate experience of making his debut, maintains control until the end. Like the characters within the fictional world of the films he directs, he plays a game with the audience. He reinforces the interpretive openness with several perspectives through which the stories are often viewed (e.g., Panic Room, Zodiac, The Social Network, Gone Girl), even letting them be controlled by unreliable narrators (Fight Club, Gone Girl). The straightforwardness of the narrative gives way to a subtle multi-layeredness and cynical provocation that sometimes makes the wider audience take longer to find their way to them, as exemplified by Alien³ (1992), Fight Club (1999) and Mank (2020).

In a kind of sadistic pleasure inherent in the nature of many of his characters, Fincher enjoys terrifying his audience, purposefully making them uncomfortable with dark visions of a world wracked by malevolence. He refers to his generation as the generation of skeptics and cynics (of which Fight Club is a showcase) and acknowledges that his entire career has been about perverse books and screenplays. That’s why, no matter how much he resists the idea of the „Fincher touch“, it’s clear from his work that particular themes and genre preferences do indeed appeal to him. This year at the Noir Film Festival, five of his films will convince you of that: Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Gone Girl (2014).

Tribute to Rita Hayworth

Brooklyn native Rita Hayworth (real name Margarita Carmen Cansino; 1918-1987) is one of the most iconic stars of film noir. Especially for her famous role as Gilda in the 1946 film of the same name, where she appeared alongside Glenn Ford, who was her acting partner in subsequent films such as The Loves of Carmen (1948), Affair in Trinidad (1952) and Money Trap (1965).

Professionally, the dancer originally started in film in the mid-1930s under the stage name Rita Casino. However, as American film studies professor Adrienne L. McLean pointed out in Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom (2004), as Rita Casino she failed to become a star, and therefore had to be transformed into a more „marketable“ star. In an effort to erase her previous identity as a brunette with a distinct ethnic appearance that strongly reflected her Spanish roots, Rita Casino became the red-haired, glamorous Rita Hayworth, who became one of the most popular pin-up girls during World War II thanks to Bob Landry’s iconic 1941 photograph published in Life magazine, in which she posed in a negligee with a black lace bodice. Already a rising star at her home studio, Columbia, three years later she starred in one of her most famous films, the Technicolor musical Cover Girl, where she appeared alongside Gene Kelly.

There was a great discrepancy between the actress’s star image and her personal life. Her image negatively affected her relationships with the men she was victim of. „Men go to bed with Gilda, but they wake up with me,“ she declared. Rita Hayworth’s star image was manipulated by her former partner Orson Welles, who, in his 1947 noir The Lady from Shanghai, released the year after Gilda, had Rita Hayworth’s wavy red hair cut short and dyed blonde in order to reshape the actress’s image.

As a tribute to the famed actress, who by the way never played a mother on screen and forever remained a charming femme fatale, this year’s festival will feature the aforementioned Gilda, widely cited in film history, with a memorable singing and dancing performance to the song „Put the Blame on Mame“.

Tribute to Robert Taylor

The actor Robert Taylor (born Spangler Arlington Brugh in 1911) was a handsome, perhaps in the opinion of many downright beautiful, man. This became both his trademark and his curse. The English film critic David Shipman said of him: “The assets of Robert Taylor hardly went beyond a good physique and a handsome face, so that with age he encountered the career decline inevitable to a matiné idol.” But such an assessment is too harsh. Taylor’s career spanned more than thirty years, and while he never received the respect and accolades of some of his colleagues (Oscar winners Clark Gable or Gary Cooper, for example), all the while he was a respected professional capable of pulling off films in a variety of genres, from romantic melodrama to western, from comedy to war film. He spent most of his career with MGM, and among his greatest triumphs were Camille (1936), in which his partner was Greta Garbo, Waterloo Bridge (1940), starring alongside Vivien Leigh, and William Wellman’s little-known western Westward the Women (1951).

His contribution to film noir is not as obvious as that of Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster. His filmography doesn’t include any iconic titles in the vein of Out of the Past (1947) and The Killers (1946), though High Wall (1947), screened at NFF last year, had the potential to do so. That’s not to say that other noirs featuring Taylor are without interest. This year, as tribute to the Hollywood actor, we’re showing Rogue Cop (1954), in which he appears largely against type as a corrupt police detective who only begins to reassess his life’s priorities in response to the death of his younger brother.

Taylor’s career takes on even further significance in the context of this year’s program: together with his first wife, the well-known actress Barbara Stanwyck, he was a conservative Republican in the late 1940s and early 1950s (both were founding members of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals) and became vocal opponent of all the filmmakers we are covering in the main program section, many of whom ended up on the blacklist.

Retrospective: Edgar G. Ulmer

Olomouc native Edgar G. Ulmer is best known today for two films: the Universal Pictures horror film The Black Cat (1934), which brought together two legends of the genre, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and the B-movie noir Detour (1945), which became a classic despite – or perhaps because of – production limitations. Ulmer‘s career, however, is far more varied than these two titles would suggest, although the director‘s tendency to exaggerate his own achievements makes it difficult to tell the truth from fabrication. Ulmer studied architecture, and at an early age – in his early twenties – got to work with famous figures in Austrian and German theatre and film, including Max Reinhardt and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. At the end of the silent era, he worked with Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and the Siodmak brothers on the influential People on Sunday (1930), shot entirely with non-actors in Berlin.

Before Hitler‘s rise to power, Ulmer made his way to Hollywood, where he made a name for himself with the aforementioned The Black Cat. However, an affair with the wife of the nephew of the powerful Carl Laemmle reportedly cost him a prominent position, and in the following years Ulmer found himself on the very fringes of the film industry. He made so-called ethnic films for the Ukrainian or Jewish population and formed a long-lasting partnership with PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation), a company specializing in low-budget films. Most of them were not received well, but one of them, Detour, became a cult classic and is now considered a masterpiece of existentialist noir. After Ulmer‘s death in 1972, some of his other directorial efforts were reevaluated, and today he is a figure renowned in a similar way to his German-speaking contemporaries Otto Preminger and Robert Siodmak.

The King of the B-movies, or the „Frank Capra of the PRC“, will be introduced through a retrospective which, in addition to the obligatory Detour, will include Strange Illusion (1945), The Strange Woman (1946), starring Hedy Lamarr, and Murder Is My Beat (1955).

Best of the 1st Edition

Throughout the history of the Noir Film Festival we have followed the rule that we do not repeat films from previous years in the program. However, with the 10th anniversary edition, we decided to make an exception and, as part of the round anniversary, to remind the program pearls from historically 1st Noir Film Festival, which took place in August 2013 at Kokořín Castle. Thus, you can look forward to Humphrey Bogart in the iconic role of Phil Marlowe in the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel The Big Sleep (1946), the Oscar-winning Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1946), based on the literary novel by James M. Cain, or the insidious femme fatale Gene Tierney in the technicolor masterpiece Leave Her to Heaven (1945). The four films in the „Best of the 1st Edition“ section conclude with Kiss Me Deadly (1955), in which director Robert Aldrich turned the noir tradition of the previous fifteen years on its head.

Festival passes on sale now

We have announced the prices of all this year’s festival passes. From today you can buy the so-called generous passes and from 18th March all other passes. The number of generous passes is limited, so don’t hesitate for long! All information can be found on the Tickets and Passes page.

Stand With Ukraine

🇺🇦 We stand with the Ukrainian people and call upon political representatives to take action, respond to the Russian invasion and to work together towards the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. We ask the international community to support Ukrainian journalists, filmmakers and artists. If you can, please donate to the verified organisations listed in the appeal here.

Introducing the main program section

By the 1930s, Hollywood had become a bastion of liberal-minded artists. Most of them made it as screenwriters, and it was towards them that the criticism accusing films of spreading left-wing propaganda was directed. During the war, ideological differences were put aside, but after 1945 tensions were renewed and intensified. The first wave of interrogations initiated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the fall of 1947 led to a list of some forty names suspected of subversive activities. Ten of them (the so-called Hollywood Ten, including Dalton Trumbo and Edward Dmytryk) refused to testify publicly and were found guilty of contempt of Congress. Most of them ended up spending time in prison. Things calmed down for a time in 1948, but three years later HUAC began interrogations again and with even greater vigor. The rest of the decade was marked by fear and paranoia, where even the slightest pretext and a minor scrape from the past could lead to the blacklisting of a filmmaker.

It is no coincidence that left-leaning artists tended to gravitate towards film noir, which, through crime stories about disadvantaged individuals, made it possible to formulate urgent social statements denouncing class inequality, abuses of power or the excesses of capitalism. Directors and screenwriters such as Jules Dassin, Joseph Losey, Abraham Polonsky, Robert Rossen, and A. I. Bezzerides were most sensitive to these and similar themes. Their contribution to film noir of the second half of the 1940s can hardly be overestimated. By the end of the decade, however, McCarthyism had made them undesirable, and they were all faced with several unenviable options: to retire from filmmaking, to work secretly under a pseudonym, or to go abroad. The noirs of the 1950s mostly took either a strictly apolitical path or, at worst, turned into didactic tracts on the dangers of communist agents.

The main thematic section of this year‘s festival called Blacklisted will focus on those prominent Hollywood figures whose voices were silenced with the advent of the blacklist in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Among others, we will present the acclaimed and historically significant films Force of Evil (1948, written and directed by Abraham Polonsky, starring John Garfield), Thieves‘ Highway (1949, directed by Jules Dassin, written by A. I. Bezzerides) and He Ran All the Way (1951, directed by John Berry, written by Dalton Trumbo, and starring John Garfield).

Support the 10th Noir Film Festival

Seven months to go until the start of the 10th Noir FIlm Festival and we have decided to make our payment account available for those of you who would like to support the jubilee edition of the festival with a financial donation.

You can send your support to the festival account 107-5323330277 / 0100 with the message to the recipient: donor_dar 10.NFF The festival will offer each donor adequate compensation (including possible accreditation) for the donation.

The first 10 donors will receive a special reward from the festival. 🙂

We will start selling this year’s generous passes (Partner, Sponsor and Noir Pass) on March 17, 2022.

The NFF 2022 festival team sincerely thanks you for all your support.

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