Echoes of NFF 2020
Five films from this year’s program will be screened at the Echoes of Noir Film Festival 2020 in Prague, November 26-28:
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Plein soleil (1960)
Blue Velvet (1986)
The schedule will be published not later than October 20. We will keep you posted also about the Echoes in other cities.
The official festival spot
This year, the animated festival spot was again made for us by Marie Urbánková & Matouš Vyhnánek.
Strange worlds of David Lynch
Archetypal characters of fatal women and their male victims in visually refined, gloomy stories about the dark side of the American dream – that is film noir. And those are also films of David Lynch, who reshapes the basic genre conventions in an unmistakable, creative way into multilayered, organic artwork. In his films, admittedly inspired by noir classics, David Lynch dives into the hidden corners of the soul and schizophrenic minds of torn protagonists. Using their distorted perspective, he lets the audience look under the seemingly perfect surface and together with the characters, he lets them get lost in hypnotic pace in intricate labyrinths of disturbing stories. Lynch doesn’t respect the conventions of narrative structure and loves accumulating twists and motives that have no rational explanation, which is very welcomed by viewers, who want to make their own interpretations.
Blue Velvet (1986) will take us under the surface of the idyllic life in the suburbs, we will experience a furious ride across the US with lovers on the run, crazily in love, and Wild at Heart (1990), saxophone player Frank and auto mechanic Pete will live their noir horror with us in Lost Highway (1997) and driving around Mulholland Dr. (2001), we will peek into the dark corners of the Hollywood dream factory.
The Czechoslovak section, full of noir aesthetic in various forms, is introduced at the festival for the eighth time this year. The Magic House (1939), Otakar Vávra’s adaptation of K. J. Beneš’s novel, offers a great cast of Czech actors Adina Mandlová and Zdeněk Štěpánek and an impressive play of light and shadow, which accentuates the burdening moments, for example the inability to remember the main character’s own past.
At the Terminus (1957) is a Czechoslovak neorealist film made by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos based on Ludvík Aškenazy’s book and it channels his poetic fully. There is fantasy, humour and sadness connected to the people living in an ordinary house at the terminal station. Miroslav Cikán, name of maybe not such fame as aforementioned directors, but his last film The End of the Road (1959) is shot very skilfully. The plot revolves around a hidden chest filled with money and it is a gripping story full of noir elements.
Crime according to Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith (1921–1995), it seems, was not exactly a sweet and amiable person. Her talent as a writer and her contribution to crime novel and to psychological thriller are nonetheless indisputable. During her lifetime, she managed to accomplish 22 novels and several dozens of short stories, in which she examined the dark side of the human mind. Her best-known creation was Tom Ripley, a charming gentleman yet also a coldblooded killer, who became the central protagonist of the series of five novels published between 1955 and 1991. Her novel debut Strangers on a Train from 1950 also became famous and, same as some parts of the “Ripliad” and other works by Highsmith, became the foundation for a successful film adaptation.
Our selection of five movies will give you a peek into the disturbing world of Patricia Highsmith as well as show you the scope of different authorial takes on highly esteemed literary works.
The 8th edition still alive!
We would like to reassure you that even after the government meeting on Thursday 30 April, after which the Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek announced that big summer festivals would not take place this year, we are (still) not planning on cancelling or rescheduling the 8th edition of the Festival.
The NFF is a chamber genre festival not exactly characterized by crowds of thousands. The festival halls in the historical premises of the Křivoklát Castle have a seating capacity of 40, 60, 60, and 100, respectively. Only the Upper Castle Courtyard, where evening open air screenings take place, can seat 170 spectators (and would therefore require us to lower the capacity to 100 in order to meet the restriction in effect from 11 May 2020).
We are currently able to ensure the preventive hygienic measures required by the Ministry of Health; however, we hope that in the more than 3.5 months remaining until the opening of the festival, the conditions for the organizers of smaller festivals will be somewhat more merciful.
We would like to use this opportunity to thank the many friends of the NFF who, despite the current uncertain situation, have supported us with financial donations. We very much appreciate their support as well as the support by our partners who are staying with us even in the current economically difficult times.
We look forward to seeing you behind the Křivoklát walls!
NFF Executive Director
Noir Magicians Anthony Mann & John Alton
The works of American director Anthony Mann are not as famous in the Czech context as movies by Wilder, Welles, Preminger, Hitchcock and Lang, to whom we have dedicated our sections in the past. Even though Mann directed exceptional noir titles in the 2nd half of the 1940s, he is best known to the wider public for his 1950s westerns (also soaked with noir darkness) with James Stewart as the lead actor; we showed Winchester ’73 at the 4th edition of NFF in the noir western section. Two of Mann’s pictures, T-Men (1948) and Raw Deal (1948), which he made in cooperation with the exceptional cinematographer John Alton, have made it to the forefront of film noir thanks to their exquisite imagery. Together with Nicholas Musuraca, John Alton was among the most inventive cinematographers of film noir of their time. American film critic Todd McCarthy wrote that in that period, no one’s blacks were blacker, shadows longer, contrasts stronger, or focus deeper than John Alton’s. Film historians unequivocally agree that Mann’s and Alton’s authorial cooperation took the noir style to the next level, case in point being also their noir-tuned historical drama about the French revolution Reign of Terror (1949), or the western noir Devil’s Doorway (1950). And because one simply cannot get enough of Anthony Mann this year, you will also get to see his early noir Desperate (1947) in the main program section LOVERS ON THE RUN.
Situational report on the 8th edition of the NFF
even in these gloomy and uncertain coronavirus times, preparations for the 8th edition of the festival are under way without restrictions.
We still hope that this year’s edition will take place in the scheduled August dates; if this is not possible due to government measures, we would like to reassure you that the festival will take place in an alternative time slot in September or October. We are currently negotiating about the specific alternatives.
We will confirm the final dates of the 8th NFF no later than 31 May which is also when the sales of the first two accreditations will be launched.
Thank you for your understanding and support in this uneasy situation.
On behalf of the NFF 2020 festival team,
Lovers on the run become the main protagonists of the 8th edition of the NFF
Last year, crime as the central theme of film noir played an important role in the main program section, which introduced films revolving around a robbery. Noir would hardly be noir if the crime in it were not triggered by amour fou – insane love which drives the fallen noir protagonists to frenziedly escape from law enforcement, their past, and last but not least, their destiny.
Last year, we presented lovers on the run in the proto-noir by Fritz Lang, You Only Live Once (1937). This year, we will resume with a choice of five U.S. movies from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s of the 20th century, which will take the festival visitors through the transformations of film noir over time, and show them how narrative techniques and stylistic takes on the works of art evolved. This year’s selection will include the iconic noir gangster film Bonnie and Clyde (1967) directed by Arthur Penn, perceived in the history of U. S. cinema as a milestone marking the end of the Classic Hollywood era and the onset of the New Hollywood.
Tribute to Burt Lancaster
As “partner in crime” for film noir icon Claire Trevor, whom we’ll celebrate at this year’s edition of the Noir Film Festival, we’ve selected Burt Lancaster (1913–1994), an Academy Award winner from 1961 for his portrayal of an alcoholic minister in Richard Brooks’ Elmer Gantry and a recipient of numerous other awards, including the Volpi Cup from Venice for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and the Silver Bear from Berlin for Trapeze (1956) in which he showed off his superb acrobatic skills.
Before he started his awards collection, so to speak, Lancaster was a distinctive character actor in a series of films noirs from the 1940s, starting out in The Killers (1946) directed by Robert Siodmak. In this memorable film, he starred alongside Ava Gardner’s femme fatale as a doomed boxer. In Criss Cross (1949), also from Siodmak, he portrayed another fallen man, this time ruined by Yvonne De Carlo’s spider woman Anna. His other unforgettable performances include the hero in Dassin’s Brute Force (1947) and charismatic villains in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957).
Tribute to Claire Trevor
The upcoming year of Noir Film Festival will again remind the actor icons inherently linked to film noir. One of them will be actress Claire Trevor (1910–2000), known for her roles of cold-blooded femme fatales and blonde bad girls with a typical raspy voice. A native of New York, she began her acting career in 1932 on Broadway and a year later she started her five decade-long film career. The Claire Trevor star shone brightest in the 1930s and 1940s when she was a partner to the greatest male stars of her time.
Among others, she appeared alongside John Wayne in the iconic westerns Stagecoach (1939) or Dark Comand (1940), she was an insidious femme fatale of Dick Powell as Phil Marlowe in the famous Chandler adaptation Murder, My Sweet (1944) and a partner to Lawrence Tierney’s psychopathic killer in Born to Kill (1947). She starred with George Raft in film noir Johnny Angel (1945), Dennis O’Keefe was her homme fatale in Raw Deal (1948) and finally she appeared alongside the star couple Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo (1948) in a tragic role of a gangster bride, for which she won her only Oscar.
Noir Film Festival 2019: …against the flow of time
Noir Film Festival 2019 Echoes
After a year, film enthusiasts from Prague and Brno will be again able to watch selected films presented in this year’s Noir Film Festival. In Brno, there will be screening of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) on Thursday, November 7, at a nontraditional spot: in the safe of the former Komerční banka in Palác Kobližná. On November 27 there will be screening of Rebecca in Löw-Beer Vila in Brno.
Visitors of Lucerna cinema in Prague, which will host Echoes of the Noir Film Festival on Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30, can look forward to Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film Rebecca (1940), Fritz Lang’s famous noir Scarlet Street (1945), an adaptation of one of Cornell Woolrich’s novels The Window (1949) and Reservoir Dogs, a movie that is a subversive variation of the heist noirs, which were the main theme of this year’s Noir Film Festival.
Tickets for screenings in Prague are available here.
Last screening – Rebecca – will take place in Havířov (Centrum Cinema) on December 7.
See you in August 2020!
The halls of the 7th Noir Film Festival went out a week ago, so let me thank you for another successful year. It was my pleasure to once again experience with you the unforgettable atmosphere of noir screenings in the backgrounds of the Křivoklát Castle. Thanks again to all visitors, partners and patrons of the festival, those who supported it by purchasing Sponsor and Noir passes and last but not least to the whole team who prepared the seventh continuation of the NFF for you.
As usual, we will announce the date of the 8th year on Saint Nicholas Day. See you in August 2020!
Vít Grigartzik, festival director
Thanks for great festival!
The 7th year of Noir Film Festival is over. Thank you for being with us at Křivoklát Castle again! Look at the photos in Photogalery.
This year’s innovation will be the introduction of the cashless service. All festival pass owners will receive special bracelets with the festival logo free of charge (for others it will be available for 40 CZK), which will enable cashless payment for all goods and services within the festival for a special price (except tickets and passes this year).
Bracelets can be recharged at the festival center and on the Black Market.
Festival spot 2019
© Marie Urbánková & Matouš Vyhnánek
Noir Eye for Jan Hřebejk
“I wish I were the patron of the Noir Film Festival forever!“ That is what director Jan Hřebejk, a long-time supporter of our festival, wrote on the wall of messages during the 5th year in August 2017. This year Jan Hřebejk will return to Křivoklát Castle to receive the annual award Noir Eye, which is given for the contribution to the film noir. In the past, directors David Ondříček, Václav Marhoul, Jiří Strach and the president of the American Film Noir Foundation, Eddie Muller, were awarded. Last year, filmmaker Samantha Fuller took the prize on behalf of her father, director Samuel Fuller, who was awarded in memoriam.
Jan Hřebejk will receive Noir Eye on Friday 23 August before the evening screening of Lang’s noir film Scarlet Street (1944).
2019 Festival patrons
Noir point in Prague is open
Festival passes and tickets can be paid (CASH ONLY!) and picked up (or pick up tickets already paid) at the contact point, Noir point in Prague (CK FIRO-tour, Národní 37/38, Praha 1) from August 14 to August 16 (from noon to 6 pm). After these dates it will only be possible to pick them up at the festival center at Křivoklát Castle (cash or credit), from the day of the festival’s opening, i.e. from August 22, 2019 (9:00 am). More information here.
Happy Birthday to Alfred Hitchcock
On August 13, 120 years ago, Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense was born. We presented some of his films at the margins of noir two years ago. This year, you can look forward to his two other films at our festival: Rebeca (1940) and Rear Window (1954).
Rebecca: Saturday | 24/8 | 9:00 pm | castle courtyard
Rear Window: Saturday | 24/8 | 12:00 am | Nova Cinema Hall
tickets reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vica Kerekes patroness of NFF and godmother of Rebecca
The femme fatale character is an integral part of the film noir iconography. Our festival naturally cannot lack the presence of a charming femme fatale. That is why this year Vica Kerekes will arrive at Křivoklát Castle as the patroness of the Noir Film Festival.
Slovak actress with Hungarian roots is one of the most popular faces of (and not only of) Czech films and TV series of this time. Together with actresses Zlata Adamovská and Hana Maciuchová, Vica Kerekes will be the godmother at the christening ceremony of the special Blu-ray edition of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, which will take place on Saturday August 24 before evening screening of the film in the castle courtyard.
Every year, a series of American films from the 1940s and 1950s, which form the core of the classic noir film canon, and thus the program of our festival, are supplemented by films of local provenance, which were created in parallel, at the same time or a few years later, and which show noir tendencies. This year’s selection of representatives from Czechoslovak cinematography of the time includes four titles: The Night Guest (1961), Midnight Mass (1962), Death Is Called Engelchen (1963) and The House of Lost Souls (1967). In addition to being filmed in the 1960s, being adaptations of literary works and being able to be categorized as psychological dramas, they also share a common theme: the troubling events of World War II, which the characters of individual films bear as tragic traumas – trauma of the past, as usual for typical noir characters.
Václav Marhoul patron of the 7th year
The director and producer Václav Marhoul has been one of the great supporters and regular visitors of the Noir Film Festival since its first year at Kokořín, where he personally introduced his parody of Chandler detective stories entitled Smart Phillip (Mazaný Filip, 2003). This year Marhoul will visit Křivoklát as one of the festival’s patrons and, among other things, as part of the accompanying program on Saturday, August 24 he will show the visitors clips from his highly anticipated film The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče, 2019).
The film adaptation of the world-known bestseller of the same name by writer Jerzy Kosiński, which took 100 shooting days in sixteen months in a total of 43 locations in Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, was selected for the main competition in the Venice International Film Festival, which will take place from 28th August to 7th September. Along with another 37 films it will also be shown in the prestigious Special Presentations section at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (5-15 September). In Czech cinemas, viewers will see The Painted Bird from 12th September. The opportunity to watch the movie clips and hear the story of the making of the film even before its world premiere will be then an exclusive experience for NFF visitors!
Double concert of Beata Hlavenková and Dorota Barová
As part of the accompanying program, a double concert of outstanding performers and The Angel Award winners – singing pianist and composer Beata Hlavenková with her solo project and cellist and singer-songwriter Dorota Barová will take place in the fermentation hall of the old castle brewery on Friday 23rd August (from 6:45 pm).
Tickets for 300 CZK / 250 CZK (with purchase until July 31, 2019) / 200 CZK (NOIR Pass holders) / free (SPONSOR Pass holders) can be booked now at email@example.com.
Hitchcock’s Rebecca on the festival Blu-ray edition
Two years ago, NFF began a new tradition of releasing selected festival titles on DVD and thanks to the festival the extraordinary Czechoslovak films A Game without Rules (1967) and Ninety Degrees in the Shade (1965) were released for the first time on this medium. Alfred Hitchcock‘s American debut Rebecca (1940) will have this honor on the occasion of the 7th year.
The famous gothic romance with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, which is an adaptation of the bestseller by British writer Daphne du Maurier and which will be screened in Křivoklát on Saturday August 24, will be released on a special, first Czech Blu-ray edition. You can buy it for 399 CZK during the festival at Křivoklát castle (for 499 CZK after the event).
Film noir was not only a product of a specific social atmosphere during and immediately after World War II. Many film and non-film cycles, trends and movements are also responsible for its birth. We could even argue that the best way to understand film noir is to explore its inspirational influences and uncover its continuity in progress in both fiction and non-fiction cinema, literature, radio, photography or journalism.
In the section ahistorically called proto-noir (let’s not forget that even film noir was named retrospectively!) we offer examples of films that we believe played a significant role in forming film noir. At the same time, selected representatives from American, French and German cinematography point out that film noir has been highly international in nature from the very beginning.
For the second time in the seven-year existence of the Noir Film Festival, we are going beyond the borders of Europe when mapping various local film noir incarnations. After Mexico (2017) we will offer a selection of films created in the Land of the Rising Sun. Classic Japanese filmmakers such as Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujirô Ozu were already in the 1930s making pictures with criminal plots and motives of fallen women, characterized by dark visual stylization. Only after World War II, however, we can talk about the establishment of a specific Japanese noir tradition. In addition to Akira Kurosawa (Drunken Angel / Yoidore Tenshi, 1948/, Stray Dog /Nora inu, 1949/), creators of the younger generation also belong to this tradition, including the tireless convention-breaker Seijun Suzuki. Our selection focuses on the creative period beginning in the late 1950s, which was characterized by the inception of the Japanese New Wave.
Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain form an imaginary holy trio of hardboiled literature authors. We have already paid tribute to them at the first year of the Noir Film Festival, as films based on their books and scripts have greatly shaped the film noir in the early 1940s. Their younger colleague, Cornell Woolrich (1903–1968), stands unjustly in the shadow of their big names. Though he was one of the best-selling authors of criminal stories in the 1940s and 1950s, today he is rather known in the narrow circle of readers of this particular type of literature. That is the reason why we have decided to bring back his work through a selection of film adaptations, a number of those had been made during his lifetime – his stories were even adapted by great filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut.
Cornell Woolrich spent the vast majority of his life in New York, where he placed many of his works, whose heroes were vicious, cynic pessimists driven by revenge. His work was characterized by an atmosphere of despair and paranoia. That is why the term “paranoid noir” appears in connection with Woolrich’s work. So-called noir fiction novels of the 1940s are considered his best, including The Bride Wore Black of 1940 (adapted for the screen by Truffaut in 1968). His most famous works include Phantom Lady, which he published in 1942 under the pseudonym of William Irish and which was two years later adapted for the screen by Robert Siodmak, or The Black Angel of 1943 filmed three years later by Roy William Neill, Night Has A Thousand Eyes released in 1945 under another pseudonym of George Hopley and three years later adapted by John Farrow, or I Married a Dead Man of 1948, which he released again as William Irish and which was filmed by Mitchell Leisen in 1950 starring Barbara Stanwyck.
In the program section, which includes four film adaptations of Woolrich’s works, you can look forward to the aforementioned adaptations of Phantom Lady (1944) and Black Angel (1946). We also chose the adaptation of the short story The Boy Cried Murder (1947), which was adapted for the screen as The Window by former DOP Ted Tetzlaff in 1949. This film is a very distinctive, little-seen phenomenon in the noir cycle, as its protagonist is – unusually – a child. So far, we keep the fourth film as a surprise.
Tribute to Alan Ladd
Who could be the male acting icon of the classic Hollywood we honor this year besides already announced Veronica Lake? It is no other than Alan Ladd who made very popular 1940s on screen couple with the sensual actress.
Alan Ladd (1913–1964) celebrated biggest success as a hero of western and noir stories and like Veronica Lake, he had the greatest career growth in the 1940s when film noir flourished. Alongside the angelically beautiful Veronica Lake, he first appeared in This Gun for Hire (1942), an adaptation of Graham Green‘s novel of the same name, in which he played the mentally disturbed hitman Phillip Raven, one of the ultimate hardboiled protagonists of the classic noir. After the successful pairing with Veronica Lake, who portrayed Raven’s “savior” Ellen in Frank Tuttle‘s film, their next title The Glass Key (1942) was once again an adaptation, this time Dashiel Hammett‘s novel. (This film was screened at the 1. Year of Noir Film Festival in the section dedicated to hardboiled noir). Four years later, Ladd and Lake returned together on screen in the dark noir Blue Dahlia (1946), that was written by another iconic author of the hardboiled detective school, Raymond Chandler.
As part of this year’s most interconnected festival accolades to acting icons, you can look forward to the This Gun for Hire and Blue Dahlia screenings.
Tribute to Veronica Lake
We choose two movie stars of the classic Hollywood era every year, a man and a woman, who we pay tribute to by screening one of their career’s iconic works and by naming the main screening halls after them as well. For instance, last year’s actors were Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan.
Female stars will be represented this year by Veronica Lake (1922–1973), a delicate blonde who has made her Hollywood breakthrough in Sullivan’s Travels (1941) directed by Preston Sturges. She shot her best films the following year: two noir films This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key and a comedy I Married a Witch.
In the 1940s, Veronica Lake was one of Hollywood’s most in-demand and popular actresses, particularly thanks to her petite body type, delicate baby face, sky blue eyes and naturally blonde curls. Her hair style, the peekaboo style, has become literally iconic. Veronica Lake personified kind and nice young women and excelled on the screen primarily in performing in serene and calm way. That is why she is the angel of film noir for us.
Fritz Lang retrospective
Every year, the Noir Film Festival includes in its program a selection of retrospective of authors who have made a major contribution to shaping the classic noir film – in the past there were directors Billy Wilder, Orson Welles, Otto Preminger, Alfred Hitchcock, Samuel Fuller and James Ellroy.
This year’s festival will introduce film treasures of Fritz Lang, who had been profiling himself as a master of noir films during his 20-year American career. Among others, the selection will include his film adaptation of Graham Green‘s spy novel, Ministry of Fear (1944), and a dark study of characters in Clash by Night (1952), starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan and Marilyn Monroe.
In the mood of crime
As the crime motive is a central aspect of film noir, one of the program sections will focus on robbery – its planning, course, and fatal consequences. The selection will include one of the key titles of the so called sub-genre heist films, The Killing (1956), which Stanley Kubrick made early in his career and which later inspired Quentin Tarantino while filming his groundbreaking Reservoir Dogs (1992). The visually engaging, thrilling noir drama with Sterling Hayden in the leading role captivates the audience with a sophisticated narrative presenting several time levels and perspectives, through which we watch the daring two million dollar robbery right during horse races.
Noir Film Festival 2019
Find your place in the sun… 🙂 We wish you happy new noir year and we are looking forward to see you at Křivoklát castle in August 2019!
Noir Film Festival 2019
Noir Film Festival 2018 Echoes
Praha, Cinema Lucerna (small hall)
admission: 125 CZK (You can buy tickets here)
Zlín, Gulliver coffee house
admission: 50 CZK
Brno, former Penitentiary in Cejl
Thursday Nov 29, 2018 | FB event
9:00 pm White Heat (director: Raoul Walsh, USA, 1949)
There will tours through the penitentiary from 8:00 pm and from 8:30 pm + short lection about film noir
Olomouc, Cinema Metropol
The dust settles slowly on the 6th NFF, thus let me thank everyone who contributed to the success.
I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the Central Bohemian Region, LoGyn and innogy companies and Tomáš Trachta for the financial support. For personal support, special thanks to patrons and festival guests Ivana Chýlková, Soňa Norisová, Jaromír Hanzlík, Tomáš Hanák, Hynek Bočan and Samantha Fuller.
Another thanks to all who have supported this year with the purchase of Noir Pass/es, and many thanks to all the members of the festival team for their enthusiasm and personal commitment.
Finally, I would like to bow to a large family of visitors, without which the unique atmosphere of the noir screenings would not make any sense.
I look forward to meeting again on Křivoklát in August next year!
Vítek Grigartzik, festival director
Noir Film Festival 2018 is over
The 6th year of Noir Film Festival is over. The programme offered nine sections including 34 feature films and 1 documentary and in addition also 1 short film and 2 TV series from our partner HBO. In four days, festival visitors at Křivoklát Castle could enjoy classic Hollywood movies from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The Nordic Noir programme section offered a gloomy atmosphere of northern countries and the visitors could also enjoy older Czechoslovak films with noir aspects.
The American director Samantha Fuller was the main guest of the festival, but two women from the Czech film industry – actresses Ivana Chýlková and Soňa Norisová – came to Křivoklát as well. Another actress, Klára Melíšková, visited the festival as a guest on the first day. The actor Jaromír Hanzlík took the role of the festival patron and personally attended the screening of a detective story The Crime at Zlenice Castle (1971) where he played the main character. The regular visitor of the festival, director Hynek Bočan, introduced his film Borstal (1968); its mood and settings correspond with other noir films in this year’s Prison Noir programme section. The youngest generation of filmmakers was represented by the delegation of the short Czech detective film Cornelia, including director Radim Svoboda, producer Anna Jelínková and composer Oliver Fillner.
More than forty screenings took place in four halls. As in the previous years, the highlights of the festival were screened in open air. The Friday’s screening, connected with Samantha Fuller receiving an annual award for her father Samuel Fuller, had to be moved, due to bad weather, to the gothic Royal Hall.
As in the previous years, the accompanying programme offered a theatrical performance – this year it was performed by the actors from Divadlo v Řeznické, Pavel Rímský and Martin Finger, who played Freud’s Last Session, directed by Radim Špaček. Jazz band Starej pán (Old Man) returned to the castle, so the late Saturday afternoon was filled with film melodies in jazz, blues and swing style. A specialty of this year’s programme was Veronika Zýková’s lecture about noir video games.
Samantha Fuller at the NFF 2018
“Thank you for a Royal Noir Time!” Samantha Fuller wrote on a traditional festival wall, where every year NFF guests leave their notes. American filmmaker and daughter of a renowned writer, director and producer Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) visited the 6th edition of NFF, where she introduced four noir films directed by her father in his retrospective: Pickup on South Street (1953), House of Bamboo (1955), Shock Corridor (1963) and The Naked Kiss (1964). Samantha Fuller’s documentary about her father, A Fuller Life, was screened at the castle as well. The documentary features several people, such as Jennifer Beals, Wim Wenders or James Franco, reading from Samuel Fuller’s autobiography A Third Face, which was released after his death. Before a screening in the Royal Hall on Friday evening, Samantha Fuller received an annual award, the Noir Eye, from the actor Tomáš Hanák, celebrating her father in memoriam – praising his independent creative spirit and ongoing contribution to film noir.
Official spot for Noir Film Festival 2018
Noir Film Festival 2018 trailer by HBO
For the sixth time, part of the NFF program is a block of Czechoslovak films, which according to our judgement is characterized by noir characteristics – whether it is intricate narrative structure, dark visual style, archetypal figures of a detective, an ambivalent anti-hero and a femme fatale or motives of investigation and voyeurism. The oldest title of this year’s collection is the neglected film by director Václav Krška When You Return (1947) set in the harsh environment of Prague apartment building. Martin Frič’s masterpiece Today for the Last Time (1958) takes place in a bar popular with irreparable alcoholics. After the well-received “Kalašovky” The Murderer Hides His Face (1966, NFF 2015) and On the Trail of Blood (1969, NFF 2014), this year we reached for the crime story Fear, which started the series with Rudolf Hrušínský in 1963. And last, Slovak cinematography and Bratislava Koliba production is represented by the classic cut detective story Death Comes in the Rain (1965) with Ladislav Chudík in the lead role.
The darkness and bleakness of noir films is determined not only by the specific visual style based on the night sceneries, distinctive contrasting lighting, play of lights and shadows and unusual camera compositions, but also by the nihilistic atmosphere of stories about the dark side of the American dream, crimes and destructive passions, with which there are concrete archetypal characters and character traits connected. Given the predominantly masculine nature of noir films, in which women are defined stereotypically either as victims or the plotting evil doers (femme fatale), male heroes have substantially more space for action. While in the early phase the noir films were dominated by cynical detectives coming out of the hard-boiled novels‘ private eyes, in the development of noir cycle in the second half of the 40s they were overcome by members of the police force and their action reflected in a documentary film style. In the late phase of noir in the late 40s the attention began to turn to the mentally unstable individuals resorting to brutal violence. With the escalated aesthetics of the culminating noir cycle there was a disrupted psyche corresponding with the exaggerated behaviour of the male characters often reflecting their war traumas.
These characters are connected with several distinctive actors, for whom we dedicate a special programme section called PSYCHO NOIR. Apart from Richard Widmark in the role of deranged killer from Hathaway’s Kiss of Death (1947) and Robert Ryan as the vindictive war veteran in Act of Violence (1948), directed by Fred Zinnemann, you can look forward to a less known face Lawrence Tierney in the role of a cold-blooded plotter in a superb Robert Wise’s film noir Born to Kill (1947) and there is also the notorious James Cagney and his top-of-the-world performance in White Heat (1949) from Raoul Walsh.
Samuel Fuller’s daughter will come to Křivoklát
As we have already announced, the Hollywood filmmaker whose work we will remember this year via a retrospective of his noir films will be Samuel Fuller (1912-1997). The trio of titles which we have mentioned so far – Pickup on South Street (1953), Shock Corridor (1963) and The Naked Kiss (1964) will be complemented by an interesting gem – a noir from exotic Japan, recorded in colour CinemaScope format, titled House of Bamboo (1955), with Robert Ryan in the main role as the leader of a Tokyo-based criminal gang.
In addition to this, we will also screen the documentary A Fuller Life (2013), in which a number of directors-admirers such as James Franco, William Friedkin, Wim Wenders, Tim Roth, Robert Carradine, Monte Hellman and Mark Hamill read aloud from his posthumously-published biography A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking (2002), full of inspirational stories and fascinating life memories – including that of the liberation of the POW camp in Sokolov, in which he participated as a member of the US Army in the year 1945. This very personal film was directed several years ago by the director’s daughter Samantha Fuller (1975), who appeared in her father’s later films, and who will come to Křivoklát in person this August to pay tribute to her father, and remember his exceptional artistic legacy with us.
In the heat of the new femme fatale
The archetypal femme fatale, an emancipated attractive woman who does not hesitate to walk over corpses when she wants to achieve her goals, is perhaps the most spectatorially popular aspect of film noir. Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Phyllis Dietrichson, Cora Smith, Kitty Collins… these are the best known of the most treacherous noir women who drive the people around them (and ultimately also themselves) to destruction. With a revisionistic perspective on the classical genres which young Hollywood authors brought in the 1970s, and with the contemporary transformation of film censorship (which, in the era of classical Hollywood, required treacherous characters to be punished), the image of the femme fatale began to be modified, thereby opening an entire scale of new narration and noir tale direction possibilities.
A copybook example of the revision of the archetypal femme fatale is the early Wachowski brothers’ (now sisters) work Bound (1996), which multiplies the incalculable power of the female element with the presence of not one but two femmes fatales and, as an added value, enriches it with a lesbian element. Similarly indestructible is The Last Seduction (1994) in a rendition by American beauty Linda Fiorentino in a film by John Dahl. In the list of “new femmes fatales”, we also must not forget spider-woman Matty Walker, the bored wife of a wealthy Florida man played by a young Kathleen Turner in the famous neo-noir Body Heat (1981) from Lawrence Kasdan.
You can look forward to all three of the afore-mentioned titles, as well as one surprise, as part of the “The New Femme Fatale” section in this year’s programme.
Samuel Fuller to be the king of the 6th Noir Film Festival
“Film is like a battleground: love, hate, action, death… In one word – emotion.” Those are frequently quoted words of Samuel Fuller in his cameo in Pierrot le Fou (1965) by Jean-Luc Godard. Godard with Truffaut and another colleagues from the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma had discovered Fuller for the cinephile sphere as a director of the Hollywood action genres. Later, filmmakers like Wim Wenders, Mika Kaurismäki or Jim Jarmusch had fallen for him, as well as Peter Bogdanovich, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese and Quentin Tarantino.
Samuel Fuller (1912–1997), the son of Jewish immigrants from Europe, had been growing up in New York and he started his professional career as a journalist. He had literally grown up in the journalistic environment – he had worked on the famous Park Row as the messenger since he was 12. In the beginning of the 30s he began to get on as a criminal reporter, his first novels were published and he moved to the West Coast, where he was engaged as a screenwriter and ghost writer. He carried on with this after the war, which had fundamentally influenced his work – he put the experience from the war time, which he had spent by the 1st infantry division called the Big Red One, to good use in several of the late films, just like he had regularly come back to his journalistic roots.
As a director, Fuller made his debut at the end of the 40s by I Shot Jesse James, film, which belongs to one of his favorite, action genre category – western. A landmark in his career was, after all, a meeting with Darryl Zanuck, the head of the Twentieth Century-Fox production, with whom he had signed a 7-year contract in the beginning of the 50s. Besides, at that time one of his masterpieces with noir qualities had come into being – Pickup on South Street (1953), which you can look forward to see at our festival. The title, which had been awarded a prize for direction at the Venice film festival, introduces diabolical Richard Widmark in the role of New York pickpocket, who unknowingly steals a microfilm with a chemical formula aimed for by communist spies.
Fuller was constantly up to date – he had experimented with color and widescreen format, he tried a role of an independent producer and he followed low-budget production with big epic projects (in his prime there is a semi-autobiographical war film The Big Red One, 1980). Some of his films were received unconvincingly and with a low commercial success at first, but gradually they had become cult. This is the case of two noir films, which he had shot in the 60s under the Fromkess & Firks Productions company and that will be a part of our festival portrait of Samuel Fuller; Shock Corridor (1963) and The Naked Kiss (1964). The first film is inspired by the story of the journalist Nellie Bly, who had pretended to have a mental illness in the end of the 19th Century with the intention to write a scandalous revelation about a psychiatric hospital on Blackwell‘s Island. The second one is a drama about the life of a reformed prostitute with Constance Towers in the lead role.
Festival visitors can look forward to real gems: programmers Jana Bébarová and Milan Hain added films to the NORDIC NOIR section that are unknown to the Czech viewers. In these 1940s and 50s productions from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, the viewers can see remarkable parallels with the contemporary Hollywood noirs and discover more or less apparent influences of the iconic films of the American cinema. For instance, the narrative patterns of the Swedish production Girl with Hyacinths (Flicka och hyacinter, 1950), directed by Hasse Ekman, recall Orson Welles‘ masterpiece The Citizen Kane (1941). Just as Welles did a couple of years before him, Ekman prompts the viewers to ask a series of crucial questions related to the story’s protagonist – in this case a female – who is first introduced as a corpse. Ekman’s Girl with Hyacinths then develops as an atmospheric detective story which little by little discloses the identity of the title character and motives behind her apparent suicide.
The section will introduce one of the films of the distinctive film noir director Jules Dassin, whose legacy the film festival had commemorated in the past, namely by Night and the City (1950) and Rififi (1955). This year it will be his earlier film Brute Force (1947), which had been a significant landmark in the director’s career, because it was his first cooperation with an influential producer Mark Hellinger and his new acting discovery Burt Lancaster. Dassin’s prison drama excels with a stark social commentary and it can be viewed as a rough allegory of the Nazi regime through the character of a sadistic warden Munsey (played by the great Hume Cronyn).
A thrilling drama shot in the real prison locations will be offered in Riot Cell Block 11 (1954), for which director Don Siegel had engaged several unprofessional actors. These two masculine titles will have their counterpart in the dark female noir film Caged (1950), in which Eleanor Parker excels in one of her lifetime roles awarded at the Venice Film Festival. She plays a convict – victim, who is going through a fundamental change of character in the unrelenting environment of a jail. Similar emotional urgency is to be seen in the drama I Want to Live! (1958), in which Susan Hayward had played her Oscar role.
Hynek Bočan celebrating his jubilee
Within the Czech “mark” the festival will commemorate the work of Hynek Bočan, who is going to celebrate his 80th birthday in April. The director, one of the patrons of the festival, visited Křivoklát in 2015 and 2017, as he was introducing a screening of a Czechoslovak-British film Třicet jedna ve stínu (Ninety Degrees in the Shade, 1965), on which he had worked as an assistant director to Jiří Weiss. He had significantly contributed to the Golden 60s of the Czechoslovak cinema with works like Nikdo se nebude smát (Nobody Will Laugh, 1965), a black comedy based on Milan Kundera’s novel, a film adaptation of Vladimír Páral’s novel Soukromá vichřice (Private Torment, 1967) or two films from 1968 that had been banned by the Communist party, Čest a sláva (Honour and Glory), a historical drama from the Thirty Years’ War, and Pasťák (The Borstal), situated in a Prague youth detention center. You can experience the rawness and rough claustrophobic atmosphere, which is close to the prison noir films introduced on the festival, at a special screening.
Tribute to Robert Ryan
Robert Ryan (1909–1973), Chicago native, is connected to a type of rude man with decided, xenophobic opinions, racist attitude and violent behaviour. Let‘s remember his breakthrough role of a killer anti-Semite in Crossfire (1947) from director Edward Dmytryk, for which he had got his only Oscar nomination. Then the role of a mentally disturbed, vindictive war veteran in Fred Zinnemann‘s Act of Violence (1948), or a psychopatic individual threatening frail women in Caught (1949), Beware, My Lovely (1952) and last but not least the role of a nihilistic xenophobe in Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), which was shot by Robert Wise in the time of culminating noir cycle. In the named Beware, My Lovely he had starred alongside Ida Lupino, actress whose we have already announced as a Hollywood heroine earlier and she will be paid a tribute to this year. But this was not their first encounter on the silver screen – a year earlier they had been paired in Nicolas Ray‘s movie On Dangerous Ground (1951).
Rest assured that you are going to see one of the above-mentioned films in half a year within the tribute to Robert Ryan in Křivoklát. Meanwhile you can bet which one it will be.
Tribute to Ida Lupino
On February 4th it will have been 100 years since Ida Lupino was born (1918–1995). She was a Hollywood actress, director and producer, whose movie legacy will be commemorated on the 6th year of the festival.
The face of Ida Lupino can be remembered for instance from the Raoul Walsh‘s films They Drive by Night (1940) and High Sierra (1941), where she had appeared alongside Humphrey Bogart. She had also played with John Garfield then, it was in Curtiz‘ adaptation of Jack London‘s The Sea Wolf (1941) or in Anatol Litvak‘s noir Out of the Fog (1941). Her noir film appearances are also unforgettable in films like Road House (1948) by Jean Negulesco, where Cornel Wilde had been her male adversary, or in the works of up-and-coming generation of young rebels, namely Don Siegel (Private Hell 36, 1954) and Nicolas Ray (On Dangerous Ground, 1951). In Ray‘s film she had met with actor Robert Ryan, with whom she was paired again in the psychopathic noir Beware, My Lovely (1952). Among her acting profession, Ida Lupino had specialized in direction – at the turn of the 40s and the 50s she had produced several films for her own independent production company The Filmmakers, namely The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and The Bigamist (1953).
“The noir ointment is a trap for everyday routine!”
See you at Křivoklát castle in August 2018!
Prague and Olomouc experience the Noir Film Festival Echoes
At the end of August this year, the Noir Film Festival celebrated its 5th birthday in Křivoklát Castle, and once again enjoyed great favour from the audience – both from the ranks of existing fans, and from new arrivals. Its spectatorial success was demonstrated by the fact that almost half of the forty presented screenings were sold out. Those who did not have the chance to come to Křivoklát during the holidays now have a unique opportunity to once again watch selected films from this year’s programme in Prague and Olomouc as part of the festival Echoes.
In Olomouc, where they will be organised in collaboration with Pastiche Filmz, the NFF Echoes will be held on Wednesday the 8th of November. The evening double programme in the Film Hall of the Palacky University Arts Centre will see the screening of the films Human Desire (1954) and In a Lonely Place (1950). The former, representing this year’s main thematic section – trains in film – is a directorial effort by Fritz Lang from the late phase of his Hollywood career. In collaboration with actors Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame, with whom he realised his previous noir The Big Heat (1953), he recorded an adaptation of Émile Zóla’s famous naturalistic novel The Human Beast, which was previously made into a film by Jean Renoir in France in the 30s. The second film in the programme, In a Lonely Place, from the selected festival retrospective of Humphrey Bogart, presents the iconic noir actor in the role of a boorish scriptwriter facing suspicion of murder. Gloria Grahame, then wife of film director Nicholas Ray, once again appears as his acting partner.
One day later, on Thursday the 9th of November, the NFF Echoes will commence in Prague. It will be hosted, for two evenings, by the Lucerna Cinema. Apart from the afore-mentioned titles, viewers in the capital will also be able to look forward to the great Czechoslovak detective story A Game without Rules (1967), in which director Jindřich Polák introduced a detective anti-hero to the screen in the form in which we know it from classic hard-boiled stories – a solitaire, excluded from the ranks of the police force because of a long-ago mistake, who tirelessly pursues a crime which has remained unsolved for years. The fourth film in the Prague programme will be another Bogart film, Conflict (1945), an atypical and unjustly omitted work in the actor’s filmography. The engineer Mason, played by Bogart, who kills his wife in cold blood, defies his typical portrait of a Marlovian hero who stands on the right side of the law and keeps a cool head in every situation.
NFF Echoes 2017 in Olomouc: 08/11/2017
Film Hall, Palacky University Arts Centre, Univerzitní 225/3, 779 00 Olomouc
19:00 Human Desire
21:00 In a Lonely Place
The Echoes take place in collaboration with Pastiche Filmz.
The price of one ticket, with no discount, is 80 CZK. Tickets can be reserved online here.
NFF Echoes 2017 in Prague: 09 – 10/11/2017
Lucerna Cinema (small hall), Vodičkova 704/36, 110 00 Prague
09/11 19:00 A Game without Rules / 20:45 Human Desire
10/11 18:30 Conflict / 20:15 In a Lonely Place
The price of one ticket, with no discount, is 120 CZK. Tickets can be purchased from 10/10 directly in the Lucerna Cinema box office, or here. After presenting tickets for each of the NFF Echoes 2017 screenings in Prague (before the screening of the film In a Lonely Place), their owner will receive a DVD of the film A Game without Rules, first released at this year’s 5th NFF.
A week ago, we temporarily closed our film noir encyclopaedia for the fifth time. Allow me to pay tribute to everyone who participated in the preparation and progress of this year’s Noir Film Festival, which was a big success with the viewers. In particular, I would like to thank all the partners, patrons, festival pass owners, and basically everyone who came to Křivoklát and supported us.
I hope that we will meet most of you once again in August 2018, in the same, unforsaken place.
On behalf of the NFF 2017 festival team, Vítek Grigartzik
HBO special screenings: The Night Of and Wasteland
Films and miniseries imbued with a dark noir atmosphere from the HBO production have been perennial stars at the Noir Film Festival since its first year, when we presented the newly-adapted novel Mildred Pierce (2011) from classical hard-boiled literature writer James M. Cain, as part of a marathon. This year, we have included two series marathons in the programme: Czech original HBO production will be represented by the critically- and viewer-acclaimed Wasteland, which received a Czech Lion Award this year in the Best Drama Series category. The thrilling story of the search for a missing female secondary school student which takes place in a remote North Bohemian village affected by mining was directed by leading Czech authors Alice Nellis and Ivan Zachariáš according to a script by Štěpán Hulík.
The central criminal conflict in the American miniseries The Night Of, which as the title suggests refers to a fatalistic moment in the life of the main hero, also concerns a young woman. He is an ordinary New York student, the son of a respectable family of Pakistani immigrants, whose life turns upside down during one night when he meets a seductive femme fatale and becomes an outlaw.
The marathons will be screened in the HBO hall at the following times:
The Night Of – Friday 18/08, 4.45 pm – 2.00 am (503 minutes, with a 15 minute break after every two parts)
Wasteland – Saturday 19/08, 5.45 pm – 2.00 am (447 minutes, with a 15 minute break after every two parts)
ALFRED HITCHCOCK – on the frontier of noir
Films noirs are about darkness, unease and suspense. And if anyone is known as the master of film suspense, it’s Alfred Hitchcock. His films have such a distinctive character that they stand for themselves, and are difficult to categorise in any way. That is why we are presenting a trio of titles directed by him – Shadow of a Doubt (1943), with the psychopathic uncle Charlie played by Joseph Cotten, the espionage drama Notorious (1946), in which Ingrid Bergman met Cary Grant, and The Wrong Man (1956), with Henry Fonda as an unjustly accused man, in the section titled ALFRED HITCHCOCK – on the frontier of noir.
Humphrey Bogart retrospective
“I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me.
I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”
One of the most iconic statements to come out of the mouth of a noir protagonist, to which none other than Humphrey Bogart, one-liner noir cynic of the first degree, lent his face, belongs to Dixon Steele, a boorish scriptwriter. Nicholas Ray’s film In a Lonely Place (1950), in which Bogart played one of his best roles, stands on the noir pedestal, and it has long been our wish to include it in the festival programme. That is why we are pleased that this will happen in the jubilee 5th year, at which we will present the actor’s select retrospective. You can look forward to this film during one of the atmospheric open-air evening screenings in the castle courtyard.
We have already announced the two films which are being screened: a film from the early stage of his career at the beginning of the 40s, High Sierra, in which he played a criminal on the run, and the later Conflict (1945), in which he appeared in the role of a treacherous, murdering husband. And it would not be a Bogart section if it did not include a film with his life partner Lauren Bacall – after the previously screened The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), this year it’s the turn of Key Largo (1948) which takes place in hurricane-battered Florida.
Noir south of El Paso
This year’s Noir Film Festival will absolutely pulse with an exotic wave from Mexico. In addition to a selection of noir films form Mexican production in the 40s and 50s – The Adventuress – (Aventurera, 1950), directed by Albert Gout, and a duo of titles from Roberto Gavaldón – The Other One (La Otra, 1946) and The Kneeling Goddess (La Diosa Arrodillada, 1947) – the programme will also include a section of films produced in Hollywood but set in Mexico. After all, Mexico was often the target of heroes fleeing from the law or an adverse fate, but it is simultaneously also an incubator of hidden crime.
As a result of a fatalistic like mistake, Dr. Jeff, played by Robert Mitchum, heads for Mexico with his lover in the film Where Danger Lives (1950), directed by John Farrow. Chaos, and the series of bizarre events which await the protagonist of the film Ride the Pink Horse (1947), played by directing actor Robert Montgomery after his arrival in a Mexican border town, are a fitting metaphor for his life’s loss and the general anarchy of the noir world. The shared universe of Mexico and the United states plays a key role in the documentary-style Border Incident (1949), from noir matador Anthony Mann, which captures the immigration officials of both countries in their fierce battle against a gang of smugglers.
Tribute to Elizabeth Scott
A fragile beauty with long blonde hair, sharply-cut facial features, penetrating eyes and a characteristically smoky voice. That was Lizabeth Scott (1922–2015), stellar face of film noir in the second half of the 40s. Her film career begun with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), in which she appeared in a minor role alongside Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and the debuting Kirk Douglas. She later met him again in a film about betrayal and revenge, I Walk Alone (1948), in which Burt Lancaster, with whom she had previously been paired in the lesser-known film Desert Fury (1947) also competed for her.
She enjoyed the role of a femme fatale to the full in Dead Reckoning (1947), in which she was acting partner to Humphrey Bogart. She was just as fateful in the film Too Late For Tears (1949) which, apart from her, also presented the remarkable face of actor Dan Duryea. He has stayed in noir fans’ memories primarily due to his rough, violent performances, towards which he also resorts in the afore-mentioned film by director Byron Haskin, Too Late For Tears, which we have included in the programme as part of this year’s Tribute to Lizabeth Scott.
Tribute to Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum was positively born for noir. With the charisma of a lover, a bewitching heavy-eyed look, a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and the legendarily delivered sentence “Baby, I don’t care”, he became the iconic face of dark films full of fateful moments, passionate emotions and warped relationships. The quoted statement, whose aptness gave Mitchum’s literary biography by Lee Server its name, was uttered in a film which was decisive for the actor’s stellar career – Jacques Tourneur’s drama Out of the Past (1947). If there is anything remarkable about this noir, it is the environment in which it takes place. Save for a few exceptions, it avoids the traditional anonymous city full of dark corners and dirty backstreets. The heroes run away from it, to the idyllic countryside – a secluded place of wild nature. Just like Mitchum’s Jeff, whose dash from the past we will all experience together during one of the festival screenings, with which we will pay tribute to the film legacy of an actor who will have been born exactly 100 years ago this August.
It is no surprise that, in this year’s programme, we will once again present Czechoslovakian films whose atmosphere, plot and characters show noir attributes. The timeless psychological drama Conscience (1948) by director Jiří Krejčík bears a noir element of anxiety and amoral behaviour. The main character, an insurance official (Miloš Nedbal) resorts to this when he commits a crime for which he refuses to take responsibility. Archetypal noir outsiders are dealt with by The Hope (1963) from the author duo of Karel Kachyňa-Jan Procházka. It tells of how fate brings together two down-and-outs of life, an alcoholic and a prostitute, played by Rudolf Hrušínský and Hana Hegerová. Hrušínský is also the star of another film we will present at the festival – the Czech-British drama Ninety Degrees in the Shade (1965) from Jiří Weiss. In it, the legendary Czech actor, alongside British acting colleagues, plays a strict inspector who exposes illegal machinations in one store, thereby fundamentally affecting the life of a broken-hearted salesgirl.
Noirs from Mexico
Every year we include noir exoticism in the festival programme, in the sense of a presentation of a film production from outside the United States of America, with which film noir in its classic form is associated. In addition to traditional noir echoes in Czechoslovak and Czech cinematography, we have screened noirs from Great Britain, France and Germany in the past. On the occasion of the jubilee 5th year, we have prepared exoticism par excellence: MEXICO.
We have included several films from the so-called golden era of Mexican cinematography of the 40s and 50s in the programme. The Mexican master of melodrama, Roberto Gavaldón, will be represented by two films in the selection. The Other One (La Otra, 1946), with Dolores del Rio in the main dual role of sisters who are different in character will present the director’s favourite theme of duality. In this context, we must also remember two American films with similar themes, which were released the same year: A Stolen Life from Curtis Bernhardt, with Bette Davis, and Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror, with Olivia de Havilland, in which the afore-mentioned actresses also starred in the roles of identical twins, who are competing with one another for a man’s affection. Gavaldón’s second film will be The Kneeling Goddess (La Diosa Arrodillada, 1947), with a femme fatale embodied by one of the most beautiful acting stars in Mexico of her time; María Félix. The third film in this section, directed by Alberto Gout under the name The Adventuress (Aventurera, 1950), will also have a female protagonist. This time, the silver screen will be shrouded in the charm which Ninón Sevilla abounded in in the role of a fallen young woman from the big city, whom fate forces to resort to prostitution.
Humphrey Bogart retrospective
When someone mentions film noir, everyone immediately imagines the gloomy atmosphere of a city at night, sinister shadows, a sensual femme fatale with a cigarette in her mouth and a male anti-hero in a trench coat, ideally with the face of Humphrey Bogart. Although many other charismatic actors also proved themselves in films noirs, such as for example Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Dana Andrews, Bogart is the one most closely connected with noir iconography. The actor, with his sharp facial features, piercing stare and cold expression, was a walking advertisement for cynicism and tenaciousness. However, despite his harshness, his charisma made him a romantic ideal for many women – just remember the Oscar-winning Casablanca.
In this legendary actor’s filmography, we will find a number of more and less well-known noir titles. His stellar season was the 40s, starting with the afore-mentioned Casablanca (1942) and The Maltese Falcon (1941), which was determinative for film noir. Even though his connection with Ingrid Bergman in Michael Curtiz‘s afore-mentioned war film functioned one hundred percent, and the chemistry between them truly radiated from the silver screen, his subsequent pairing with Lauren Bacall proved to be even more successful. The young, smart blonde with a sparkle in her eye and a sense of irony was Bogart’s best opponent, and their verbal duels from Hawks’ The Big Sleep (1946) are immortal. In addition to this film, in the past we included another movie in which they starred together – Dark Passage (1947), which was filmed in San Francisco. This year, as part of the actor’s mini-retrospective, we will screen, among others, the noir gangster film High Sierra (1941), where he introduced himself as a criminal on the run. He also appears in the role of a villain in the dark marriage drama Conflict (1945), by Curtis Bernhard, which we chose this year.
Trains in film noir
This year, the main thematic section will bear the name Trains in Film Noir. Thus, a key point of the programme will be dark films whose tension arises from the confined space of the vehicle in which all of the participants are de facto imprisoned. Such as Vicky, played by Gloria Grahame, who is oppressed by her violent husband and who seduces kind-hearted veteran Jeff (Glenn Ford) in Human Desire (1954), shot by Fritz Lang in the late stage of his Hollywood career according to Émile Zola’s novel The Human Beast.
A film which takes place completely in a train, directed by another noir veteran, Anthony Mann, also offers thrilling drama – The Tall Target (1951), whose hero, a former detective played by Dick Powell, is trying hard to prevent an attempt to assassinate American president Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Police officers and secret witnesses to a crime face danger in Richard Fleischer’s noir Narrow Margin (1952), while the fourth film in the selection, the lightweight comedy Lady on a Train (1945), with musical star Deanna Durbin, plays ingeniously with the conventions of the criminal genre.
Tributes to noir icons
Since its first year, the Noir Film Festival has been marked by tributes to acting icons which are unmistakeably connected with classic noir, and after whom the screening halls have always been named. The first year (2013) in Kokořín it was mysterious beauty Gene Tierney and cynical Humphrey Bogart, the second year (in Křivoklát Castle) it was honourable good guy Glenn Ford and acting professional in every situation, Barbara Stanwyck, in the year 2015 it was rebel John Garfield and assertive Joan Crawford, and last year the halls were named after Kirk Douglas and Olivia de Havilland, who were celebrating anniversaries.
This year, one of the halls will bear the name of another person who is celebrating an anniversary – a charismatic male legend with a bewitching look, Robert Mitchum (Out Of The Past, Big Steal, Angel Face, The Night Of The Hunter), who will have been born 100 years ago this August (and, at the same time, in June we will commemorate twenty years since his death). The fifth year’s noir femme fatale will be a fragile blonde with a smoky voice, Lizabeth Scott (Dead Reckoning, Pitfall, Too Late for Tears, Dark City). You will soon find out which films from her filmography we will be including in the programme!
Prague Echoes of the Noir Film Festival
If you didn’t manage to see all the screenings you’d planned to in Křivoklát, or if you didn’t make it to the castle at all this year, then the official NFF Echoes, which are being prepared in Prague right now, are just the thing for you. They will be hosted in mid-October by the Dlabačov cinema, which will show a total of four films from the programme of the festival which finished a month ago.
On Wednesday 12/10, at 8.30pm, those interested will be able to visit a screening of the German noir Murderers Among Us (1946), set in the debris of ruined Berlin. Two days later (14/10), at half past eight in the evening, the Freudian Possessed (1947) with Joan Crawford in the main role will be on the programme, and on Saturday 15/10 viewers can look forward to a noir double feature: the San Franciscan noir The Lineup (1958) will be screened at 6.00pm, followed at 8.30pm by Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) which deals with one of this year’s key themes – Freudian psychoanalysis.
The fourth year of the festival is already a week behind us, so allow me to thank everyone who became part of its unique atmosphere. I would especially like to thank the entire festival team, all the partners, patrons and Noir pass holders, our eminent guest Eddie Muller, and last but not least the many, many visitors who came this year.
See you once again in Křivoklát on the 17th of August 2017!
Vít Grigartzik, NFF festival team coordinator
Czechoslovak TV noir
Three television dramas that were made by Czechoslovak Television in the 1970s (Alone Against the City featuring Karel Höger, Odd Circumstances featuring Václav Voska, Snared featuring Rudolf Jelínek) were introduced within the 3rd year of NFF.
This year we will continue to explore more television dramas of that time; besides the 1970s, attention will be paid to the preceding decade as well. This year’s selection offers three variations on film noir. All of them are noteworthy films featuring distinctive actors – Jiří Adamíra as a main character in Ministry of Fear, Jiřina Šejbalová excelling in the one-woman show Sorry, Wrong Number! and Petr Čepek starring in Greed. There will also be a special screening of the Czech television crime thriller The Greene Murder Case.
Prague noir: authors reading
Fourteen Czech authors contributed to the collection of short stories, Prague Noir, which will be released by Paseka publishing house in October of this year. An English version will be published by Akashic Books as a part of the City Noir series.
Two of these stories will be read by their authors at Křivoklát, offering a special preview of the upcoming release. Author Jiří Walker Procházka, who focuses on the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and detective stories, will read his short story “Mrtvá holka v Čerťáku” on Friday evening. The winner of Jiří Orten’s Award (for the prose To the Seaside) and Magnesia Litera (for the collection of three short stories To Disappear), author, film dramaturgist and screenwriter Petra Soukupová will read her story “Další nejhorší den” on Saturday evening.
JIŘÍ WALKER PROCHÁZKA – MRTVÁ HOLKA V ČERŤÁKU
Friday, Aug 19, 5.15 pm, “Hell”
PETRA SOUKUPOVÁ – DALŠÍ NEJHORŠÍ DEN
Saturday, Aug 20, 8.15 pm, Huderka Tower
The Czar of Noir at the festival
We are more than proud to announce that San Francisco based writer, filmmaker, and noted noir historian Eddie Muller will be our honoured guest this year. Muller is founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, non-profit public benefit corporation created as an educational resource regarding the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of film noir as an original American cinematic movement. Its mission is to find and preserve films in danger of being lost or irreparably damaged, and to ensure that high quality prints of these classic films remain in circulation for theatrical exhibition to future generations. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s public awareness campaign is the annual NOIR CITY festival held in San Francisco.
Writer James Ellroy (born on 04/03/1948 in Los Angeles) is one of the most distinct carriers of the legacy of the tough American school authors – Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett and James M. Cain. He made his debut in the early 80s, but he only registered a more significant response with his trilogy about Lloyd Hopkins from the years 1984-1985. He further developed his specific view of the world, full of scepticism and pessimism, in the famous Los Angeles quartet which also includes the novels Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential, which were made into films. After the so-called underworld trilogy, Ellroy published the novel Perfidia the year before last, which is to be the introduction to the second Los Angeles tetralogy. Ellroy’s style is easily recognisable, thanks to its sketchy, telegraphic form of expression and brilliant use of police and criminal slang. We will present his work in the form of two adaptations of his novels (Cop and L.A. Confidential), and the action thriller Street Kings, which was shot according to his original concept.
After Britain and France, we take a look at Germany in our systematic mapping of non-American film noir. We can identify elements of classic noir in three basic types of productions. First and foremost, it is the films of German artists who worked in Hollywood during World War II and gradually returned to their homeland after 1945. As you will be able to see for yourself in the festival, the Robert Siodmak film The Devil Strikes at Night (Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam, 1957) is noteworthy for mixing tendencies typical for both national film industries.
After the war what are known as trümmerfilme (rubble films) realized in the ruins of bombed cities and reflecting the harsh realities of post-war existence became a distinctive form. An example of this is presented by the next film in the program Murderers Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns, 1946). Finally, the creators of later generations also referred to the poetics of film noir, combining noir conventions with modernist film practices. The most significant representatives of this trend are Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, whose Veronika Voss (Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, 1982) will be the third title of this section.
Noir protagonists were pushed into difficult situations by their dark past and made an ambivalent enigma in the eyes of those around them. For many of them the mysterious aura of these characters was a challenge that they tried to solve and break. Some by violence, others by their wits. In the 1940s when psychoanalysis became popular again, noir-style films often featured intellectual characters that penetrated deep into the minds of disturbed individuals and searched for the causes of their aggression. One of them was the psychoanalyst (Lee J. Cobb) in the peculiarly titled film The Dark Past (1948) by the directing cameraman Rudolph Maté (behind the camera of Gilda or The Lady from Shanghai), revealing the inner trauma of a runaway criminal (William Holden) holding him hostage in his own house. In Possessed (1947) by Curtis Bernhard the doctors are trying to help a mentally unstable protagonist (Joan Crawford) by means of narco-hypnosis. Another young psychoanalyst (Ingrid Bergman) in Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) attempts to get to the root of the problems of her new colleague, an attractive physician (Gregory Peck) who turns out not to be who people thought he was. On the contrary, the mentalist played by Tyrone Power in Nightmare Alley (1947), situated in the distinctive environment of a circus, uses his mental “abilities” to manipulate rich people. Freud upon them and Freudian noir upon you! In August at the Křivoklát Castle.
Last year, retrospective tributes were paid worldwide to Orson Welles on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, and this year the festival sections focusing on film classics will belong to Otto Preminger. Given Preminger’s broad noir work, we won’t be left behind in paying tribute either. A Jewish emigrant of Austrian origin, who would have celebrated his 110th birthday in December this year, he left a great film legacy behind him in American cinematography. An opinionated film-maker, who was not afraid to provoke with sensitive themes (Anatomy of a Murder, 1959), attempt an internal censorship of the Production Code (The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955), or stand up for discredited authors (Dalton Trumbo and his work on the film Exodus, 1960), realized several distinctive noir titles after his arrival in the United States, which today still represent the noir cycle’s best creations. We presented the iconic Laura (1944) with the divine living corpse of Gene Tierney and the charismatic Dana Andrews in our very first year, but you won’t miss this photogenic film duo this year, either – the actors came together again in Preminger’s subsequent noir Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), which we’ll present at the festival together with two other titles. The fragile Gene Tierney appears in the central role of a kleptomaniac in the second presented noir, Whirlpool (1949), and the irresistible Dana Andrews plays the title role in Fallen Angel (1945) beside femme fatale Linda Darnell. The latter film will be presented during a unique evening screening on Friday 19/08 in the Křivoklát Castle’s Royal Hall.
The Dark Mirror
Olivia De Havilland, who will celebrate her jubilee 100th birthday at the start of July, belonged among the best actresses of her time as the star of Warner Bros. studios. Although she was not an iconic noir face, she played an unforgettable role, or more precisely dual role, in one iconic noir. Director Robert Siodmak, who enriched the noir cycle with a colourful range of films, entrusted her with the characters of identical twins Ruth and Terry – physically indistinguishable but psychologically very different – in his film The Dark Mirror (1946). The dark psychological thriller about a complicated murder case, in which their easily interchangeable identity plays a major role, will be included in the programme as part of the tribute to this unforgettable charismatic actress’ face.
Film noir was not limited merely to contemporary big city detective stories, melodramatic tales full of intrigue, and plans for perfect crimes or disillusioning dramas about the dark side of the American dream. With the growing influence of film noir in the second half of the 1940s and in the following decade, its gloomy undertones also permeated other genres, such as for example westerns. Clear traces of such genre breakthroughs can be observed, in particular, in the work of Anthony Mann and Samuel Fuller, who based their careers on these types of films. From the former’s filmography we’ve included Winchester 73 (1950) in the programme section, in which America’s darling James Stewart appears in the atypical, contradictory role of a man searching for his father’s murderer. Fuller’s work will be represented by the noir-themed, revisionist western Forty Guns (1957), with Barbara Stanwyck in the main role of an authoritarian rancher.
San Francisco Noir
“Film noir is inextricably linked with damned characters, failed existences and people caught up in life crisis situations from which it is difficult for them to find a way out. Hollywood film-makers found an ideal materialization of a noir trap, from which there is no way out, in a picturesque city in the northern part of California. The question of why so many gloomy and dark films were set in San Francisco, which thanks to its romantic charm is one of the most sought-after tourist locations in the world, has confounded many people.” wrote festival programmer Jana Bébarová in the opening of her thematic article “San Francisco Noir – the city from which there is no escape” in the magazine 25fps, in which she dealt with the unique atmosphere of the ultimate noir city.
That will be conveyed by this year’s festival in one of the thematic sections, among others through films which were directed by pure noir film-makers: Edward Dmytryk’s The Sniper (1952) and Don Siegel’s The Lineup (1958). The former is a social-critical study of a serial killer, a mentally deranged war veteran afflicted by a chronic hatred of women, for whom the San Franciscan urban labyrinth becomes a perfect hiding place. The Lineup, with Eli Wallach in the role of a violent rogue, which preserved the breathtaking exteriors of the city by Hal Mohr’s riveting camera work, was also shot completely in San Franciscan locations.
The action crime thriller Street Kings (2008), made by American director David Ayer, will be part of the thematic section of films connected with the work of American writer and screenwriter James Ellroy at the 4th year. For the film, from the environment of a corrupt Los Angeles police force, Ellroy figures as the author of the theme and the co-screenwriter.
In his productions, David Ayer keeps returning to the criminal environment of Los Angeles – that’s where he situated his début Harsh Times (2005), with Christian Bale in the main role, and later End of Watch (2012), in which one of the central roles was played by Jake Gyllenhaal; even his latest film so far, Sabotage (2014) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington, has a police storyline.
He first co-operated with James Ellroy in the year 2002 on the script for the film Dark Blue (2002) in which, under the direction of Ron Shelton, he presented Kurt Russell in the role of a tough Los Angeles detective. The protagonist of Street Kings, detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a typical noir (anti)hero, who overcomes trauma from the past, and in his convoluted search for the crime encounters many obstacles, only to find out that the only person he can rely on is himself.
At the beginning we see a successful detective with a contented wife; at the end, he is lying dead and his wife is gone. How did this happen? You can find out for yourself at the festival screening of the film Detective Story (1951), with which we will pay tribute to a man who is celebrating a jubilee this year – Kirk Douglas (*1916). A film by Oscar-winning director William Wyler, based on a play by Sidney Kingsley, it offers a realistic look at the work of crime scene investigators in New York, which it views complexly and definitely not in black and white. In a time frame of one day, it offers a mosaic of several stories, connected by the character of a tough policeman – anti-hero Jim McLeod – played by the charismatic Kirk Douglas.
The first noir delights
In less than seven months you will be able to enjoy a packed programme at the festival, which will once again bring genre overlaps, tributes, and noir echoes and tendencies in other national cinematographies and, traditionally, also Czechoslovak and Czech television films noir.
This year, contemporary forms of film noir will be depicted by films shot according to books and screenplays by James Ellroy and, among others, we will introduce films in which the atmospheric backdrop of San Francisco stars in the main role. This year’s tributes will belong to acting icons Olivia de Havilland and Kirk Douglas, who will celebrate an unbelievable 100th birthday this year. The halls named after both actors will screen films that will commemorate them in the times of their greatest glory.
First information about the NFF 2016
For the 4th year of the NFF, we can once again promise you 40 screenings in 4 historic halls and the Křivoklát Castle’s upper courtyard. The entrance fee to the screenings will stay the same as last year – 90/120 CZK, and 50 CZK in the TV hall in the Huderka Tower. We’re looking forward to it together with you – see you in less than 7 months!
NFF team wishes you all the best in the new year and many strong “noir” experiences.
The fourth year is, and will be!
Making people happy isn’t just for Christmas, so know that next year we will be in the same place at the same time: 18 – 21/08/2016 we will once again meet in Křivoklát Castle. This is the fourth time we’ll be looking forward to seeing you, and our common regular four-day dose of noir! Until then, with the advent of the new year, we want to again gradually bring you new information on our website relating to both the organization of the entire event, and the dramaturgical plan we’ve prepared. You’ll find out what programme cycles we’ve prepared for the fourth year, and what films you have to come and see with us in the Czech medieval castle’s unique, enthralling atmosphere. Now, on behalf of the entire organizational team, we wish you a beautiful and comfortably-spent Christmas holiday, and lots of wonderful film and non-film experiences in the forthcoming year!
A poorly autumn has descended on us from the skies, the days are getting shorter, and the dawn is shrouded in a thick fog. For noir fans there’s no better time than right now to let themselves be enchanted the magic of old black-and-white films. Our script editors have not been idle during this time, either; they’re diligently preparing next year’s festival programme for you. However, before we start the new noir season, let’s remind ourselves what you, the fans, enjoyed the most this year, and which films you took the greatest liking to in Křivoklát. If we ignore the evening screening in the courtyard – which appealed to you the most – and the closing screenings, which were not evaluated, then according to your feedback (counting the films for which at least twenty votes were cast), Ingrid Bergman was the clear winner with her Gaslight. This year’s honoree Orson Welles, with his epic Touch of Evil and Kafkaesque The Trial, was right behind her. The French film The Raven and the American classic The Big Clock also got into the five most popular titles. As to which films will resonate with you most the next time, that’s still in the stars, but we can promise you that we’ll do our utmost to ensure you enjoy them all as much as possible. So, in the meantime, prepare for the winter at home in front of the television with your noirs, and see you in the spring!
The 3rd edition of Noir Film Festival is behind us.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to all of you who contributed to its success, especially to festival partners and patrons…
Evening screenings at the castle courtyard
In noir films, Robert Mitchum is often associated with playing charming but cursed lovers, something akin to his character Jeff from Out of the Past (1947). However, British actor Charles Laughton fundamentally changed his stellar image when he cast and directed him in the part of a psychotic pastor in The Night of the Hunter (1955). With the traits of Bluebeard, Mitchum’s pastor pursues the heart of a lonely woman in order to get to a hidden treasure which belongs to her after the death of a condemned man.
Sudden Fear (1952) is a variation of the archetypal noir storyline about an almost perfect crime. However, unlike Double Indemnity (1944), it views it from the other perspective – that of the victim. She is the wealthy author of plays, Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford), who is trying to thwart the plans of her husband (Jack Palance) and his young mistress (Gloria Grahame), who are preparing to murder her.
Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes, 1955) is regarded as a classic of the caper film sub-genre, capturing the act of an ingeniously planned jewellery robbery, which is meant to be the last major job by ageing Parisian gangsters before their retirement. It is paradoxical that this iconic French noir was directed by an American – Jules Dassin, who belongs to the canon of directors who to a significant extent participated in the formation of classic film noir.
You can read complete texts about all programme sections and films in the festival catalogue which you can buy in the festival shop (Black market).
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955): Thu 20/8, 9.15 pm, upper castle courtyard
SUDDEN FEAR (1952): Fri 21/8, 9.15 pm, upper castle courtyard
RIFIFI (DU RIFIFI CHEZ LES HOMMES, 1955): Sat 22/8, 9.15 pm, upper castle courtyard
Film noir has always been attractive for both the viewers and the filmmakers themselves, who have been happily returning to its iconography and archetypes for decades and revising them in their own way. The popularity of this phenomenon is demonstrated by the amount of titles that were created as variations of more or less well-known noir films. In this year’s programme, we have included three film duos that represent the aforementioned tendencies. While the original films selected from the classic noir era (Criss Cross, The Big Clock and Night and the City) represent the 1940s/1950s period when the noir genre was in its strongest phase, their “remakes” (Underneath, No Way Out and Night and the City) date back to the end of the 1980s to mid-1990s when neo-noirs enjoyed great popularity. Comparing these will give viewers a clear idea of the development of film noir and the conventions that have been associated with it over time.
NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950): Thu 20/8, 6.00 pm, HBO hall
CRISS CROSS (1949): Thu 20/8., 7.00 pm, Joan Crawford hall
THE UNDERNEATH (1995): Fri 21/8., 2.30 pm, Joan Crawford hall
THE BIG CLOCK (1948): Sat 22/8, 1.00 pm, John Garfield hall
BEZ VÝCHODISKA (1987): Sat 22/8, 4.15 pm, HBO hall
NIGHT AND THE CITY (1992): Sat 22/8, 11.59 pm, John Garfield hall
This year’s edition of Noir Film Festival will bring you not only screenings, but also accompanying events every day. You can look forward to concerts, discussions, seminar and a theatrical performance. See details below:
Thu 20/8 (7.30 pm) – Pavel J. Ryba & The Fish Men (modern jazz) | festival club in the castle “Hell” | admission: 80 CZK
Sat 22/8 (12.30 pm) – moderated discussion with festival patrons + screening of the film from the 1st year of NFF | ČT art hall
Sat 23/8 (7.30 pm) – Ondřej Ruml (swing, jazz, mix) | festival club in the castle “Hell” | admission: 80 CZK
Sun 23/8 (1.45 pm) – seminar of Milan Hain (NFF programmer) about Orson Welles + discussion | ČT art hall | admission: 50 CZK
In the mid-1940s, films combining elements of theatrical melodrama, Gothic novels and horror films enjoyed great popularity. Very often – but not necessarily – they were set in the past, and were played out in the depressing environments of Victorian houses or deserted country residences, in which a young, inexperienced woman was left at the mercy of an older man with a mysterious past and/or tendencies towards violence and manic behaviour. In the Gothic noir section, we decided to include four films starting with the famous Gaslight (1944) by George Cukor with Ingrid Bergman who received the first Oscar of her career for her precisely nuanced acting performance; the producers took home another statue for the best art direction in a black and white film. The screening will be held on Friday 21st of August from 4.45 pm in Joan Crawford hall. Next two films – My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) by Joseph H. Lewis and Hangover Square (1945) by John Brahm – are from the following year. Youthfully rash heroine Julia Ross suddenly finds herself in a remote manor where a new identity of the mentally unstable wife of a nouveau riche son, which his crazy family is planning to kill, is being forced upon her. This film will be screened twice: on Thursday, 20th of August from 4.45 pm and on Saturday, 22nd of August from 10.00 pm. Both screenings will take place in Joan Crawford hall. The protagonist of Hangover Square, set in London at the turn of the 19thand 20th centuries, is composer and pianist George, who experiences fits of violent behaviour during periods of sudden memory loss. The screening will take place in John Garfield hall from 12.30 pm on Saturday, 23rd of August. The ten years younger, fairytale-themed noir horror The Night of the Hunter (1955, directed by Charles Laughton), with the brilliantly chilling performance by Robert Mitchum, keeps them company. This film will open the festival on Thursday, 20th of August at 9.15 pm at the castle courtyard.
We will commence and end this year’s Noir Film Festival with a smile. How can we be so sure? The explanation is simple: we’ll devote one of the programme sections to noir parodies. The festival will open at 12.00 pm on Thursday the 20th of August (in the Joan Crawford hall) with the film Unfaithfully Yours (1948) by Preston Sturges, which will offer an irresistible combination of screwball comedy and film noir. While conducting an orchestra, the self-centred husband, played by Rex Harrison, fantasizes about the ways in which he could murder his wife, whom he suspects of infidelity. His wife was played by Linda Darnell, an actress whom we will also be able to see this year in the Gothic noir Hangover Square (1945) by John Brahm. The following day, i.e. Friday the 21st of August, from 3.00 pm (in the John Garfield hall), will bring a unique combination of feature film and animation: in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), director Robert Zemeckis brought together an untraditional pair of heroes – a hard-as-nails private eye played by the excellent Bob Hoskins and the animated rabbit Roger, whom someone framed. During the closing screening of the film Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) by Carl Reiner on Sunday 23rd of August from 3.30 pm (John Garfield hall), you can try to count how many noirs you know of the ones from which this peculiar tribute with Steve Martin in the role of detective Rigby is composed, and also how many we’ve already shown during the three years of the Noir Film Festival…
Last year’s programme section devoted to hints of noir in our national cinematography included Vávra‘s film Krakatit, in which the main part of engineer Prokop was played by Karel Höger. The legendary Czech actor will be the distinctive face of this year’s selection of Czechoslovak, or more precisely Czech, films. Viewers will be able to see him in Křivoklát in Václav Krška‘s exceptional film Scars Of The Past (Zde jsou lvi, 1958), a retrospectively-narrated drama about a mining engineer who is sent to the countryside due to a negative assessment, where a tragedy occurs after his advice goes unheeded. In this expressively-themed film, Höger acts side-by-side with Dana Medřická. In the television production of Alone Against The City (Sám proti městu, 1974), directed by Jaroslav Dudek, Höger presents himself for a change as the eccentric doctor Salt who, as an amateur detective, searches for his missing patient. Höger‘s acting was seconded by Jana Štěpánková and Hana Maciuchová. The latter will personally introduce the Křivoklát projection of the film in the role of this year’s festival patron. The selection will be completed by one of Petr Schulhoff‘s classic detective films with the acting duo of Rudolf Hrušínský and Radoslav Brzobohatý, The Murderer Hides His Face (Vrah skrývá tvář, 1966).
This year is marked by the celebrations of the work of the great and unappreciated film genius Orson Welles, who was born on the 6th of May 100 years ago. In October, the world will also commemorate his death thirty years ago, and honour it with a quiet remembrance. Across the whole world, the legacy of Orson Welles, director of one of the ground-breaking works of world cinema, Citizen Kane (1941) is commemorated with a range of retrospective shows and tributes. The festival in Cannes, which begins this week, included not one but two of Welles‘ titles in the prestigious Cannes Classics section which presents the jewels of world cinema in their restored form: the above-mentioned Citizen Kane accompanied by The Lady from Shanghai. In our country, over ten of his directorial feats were presented during March and April by the Prague cinema Ponrepo, and we won’t fall behind either. We will enrich this year’s programme with a miniseries of his noir masterpieces including The Stranger (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1948) and Touch of Evil (1958). In addition to this, a presentation will take place at the festival in which one of the festival programmers, Milan Hain, will introduce visitors to Welles‘ enigmatic work and his complicated, non-conformist personality.
French Film Noir
The Noir Film Festival dramaturgy specifically refers to the various forms of the film noir phenomenon, whether in the area of genre hybrids and inter-text puns, or in the area of noir tendencies in other national cinema. Last year we included three British noirs in the programme and this year, in this dramaturgical step, we will continue with the section devoted to French film noir. The era of French cinema which is analogous to the golden era of classic film noir in the 1940s will be represented by two titles. Today, both films are considered to be French classics, and both of them are connected with the same director’s name: Henri-Georges Clouzot. His film The Raven (Le Corbeau, 1943) shows an oppressive atmosphere pervaded by paranoia and fear, which is typical to film noir and which is evoked among the inhabitants of one small town by a series of anonymous letters. Quay of the Goldsmiths (Quai des Orfèvres, 1947), for which Clouzot received a Best Director award in Venice, is a detective story about a cabaret singer, a rich businessman and a jealous husband. Another French classic, the heist film i(Du rififi chez les hommes, 1955), directed by the American Jules Dassin during his forced European exile, will complete the film duo and connect them with Hollywood film noir.
Tribute to John Garfield
This March, we also remembered the birth of John Garfield, the tragic hero of the classic Hollywood era. Even before the world discovered James Dean, with whose dissenting attitude towards authorities and “live fast, die young“ approach to life the contemporary generation of adolescents (and the following generation) identified, it had John Garfield, a unique character of the 1940s era. Garfield was the icon of the rebellious young men from the lower (blue-collar) social class, whose environment saw the emergence of a number of noir protagonists that longed for the American dream. The tragic nature of his character lay not only in the film roles which he embodied – e.g. in the noir films The Postman Always Rings Twice, Nobody Lives Forever, Humoresque, Body and Soul, Force of Evil, The Breaking Point or He Ran All The Way – but also in his own fate, as the actor, with his left-wing views, was one of the victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Years of pressure and stress exerted on him by the public, together with physical exhaustion, led to his premature death at thirty nine years of age, when he suffered a sudden heart attack in his New York apartment. With Garfield’s demise, Hollywood lost a great acting talent, but his legacy will live forever. We, too, will pay tribute to this extraordinary actor’s personality, by the special presentation of one of his films.
Tribute to Joan Crawford
The 23rd of March saw 110 years pass since the birth of one of the greatest female movie stars of the golden era of classic Hollywood, Joan Crawford. The native of San Antonio in Texas started off as a dancer in theatre companies, and had already progressed to film during the silent era. From 1925 she was a contract actress of MGM studios which cast her in hard-working women’s roles that strongly resonated with the spectator audience at a time of economic crisis. However, her fame gradually waned at the end of the 1930s and she only got a second wind in the mid 1940s when film noir came into play in American cinematography. Joan Crawford‘s great comeback was Mildred Pierce (1945) in which she revived her woman-mother-workhorse type, and for which she got her first Oscar. In subsequent years she added two more to it: for the noir-themed study of a mentally unstable woman in the film Possessed (1948) and for the movie Sudden Fear (1952) which dealt with the (im)perfect murder of a wealthy wife à la Double Idemnity. We’ve included the latter, in which her acting partners were Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame, in this year’s Noir Film Festival programme as part of the Tribute to Joan Crawford. Among other noirs in which the actress appeared we must mention Humoresque (1946), in which she was supported by John Garfield, a male movie star to whom we will also pay tribute this year. The major films of the late phase of Joan Crawford‘s career undoubtedly include the essential milestone of the western genre, Johnny Guitar (1954), in which her adversary was Mercedes McCambridge, and the horror-themed psychological portrait of a relationship of rivals between two ageing sisters titled What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) in which she compared powers with the also once-stellar Bette Davis.
NFF 2015 Programme SECTIONS
We’ve entered a new year in our calendar, and the third year of NFF is almost upon us. In eight months’ time; from the 20th to the 23rd of August to be precise, we will meet again inside the bulwarks of the royal Křivoklát Castle. The mysterious atmosphere of the castle environment will go hand in hand with Gothic films noir, which will form the core of one of the parts of this year’s programme. Noir parodies, on the other hand, will lighten the atmosphere. The remakes of films noir which will be shown will surely be rewarding for the audience, and fans of Orson Welles, to whom an exclusive retrospection will be dedicated, will also come into their own. The film icons to whom we will pay homage this year are Joan Crawford and John Garfield. HBO projections and Czech/Czechoslovak noirs already have a traditional place at the festival. The different perspective this year will be from France. We will gradually reveal the names of the individual titles during the spring, so don’t forget to follow us on our social networks (on Facebook and on Twitter).