30+ Classic Czech Films to Hit US Cinemas & Home Video

30+ Classic Czech Films to Hit US Cinemas & Home Video

Great news for Czech film lovers in the states: arthouse distributor Janus Films, famed for their home video collaboration with the Criterion Collection, has struck a deal with the Czech National Film Archive that will grant them distribution rights to 30 Czech classics in North America.

The films are a diverse crop that feature the silent film From Saturday to Sunday by Gustav Machatý up through the Czech new wave and early features from celebrated directors Miloš Forman (Black Peter, Loves of a Blonde, and The Fireman’s Ball), Věra Chytilová (Daisies, Something Different), and Jiří Menzel (Closely Observed Trains, Capricious Summer).

The most recent film on the list is the beloved Czech fairy tale Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku) from 1973.

Many of the films, especially those from the Czech New Wave, may already be familiar to arthouse-inclined American audiences. Missing are the more mainstream Czech classics from celebrated directors like Oldřich Lipský and Karel Zeman. Still, there a lot of crossovers from my recent list of the Czech-voted top 50 Czech movies.

Some of the features, including From Saturday to Sunday, the sci-fi classic Ikarie XB 1, and the Oscar-winning The Shop on Main Street (the first Czech film to win an Oscar) have been digitally restored in recent years by the National Film Archive and screened at film festivals both at home and abroad.

Distributor Janus hopes to bring many of the features into US cinemas over the coming years.

“The demand for classic Czech films in the US is on an increase, also thanks to the retrospective we have presented this April at the Museum of Modern Art in New York,” said NFA president Michal Bregant in a press release.

“Step by step we broaden the interest of foreign audiences beyond the realms of the new wave, and so the contract also includes titles like Radok’s Distant Journey, and Machatý’s From Saturday to Sunday.“

The deal also includes home video distribution rights for the Criterion Collection, perhaps the world’s most prestigious purveyor of classic films on DVD and blu-ray.

Many of the features here - including Forman’s Loves of a Blonde and The Fireman’s Ball, The Shop on Main Street, Closely Observed Trains, and Marketa Lazarová, have been previously released by the Criterion Collection in North America.

“Over the years, it has been an honor to distribute some of the key films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, and now we are excited to be working with the National Film Archive to bring an even more expansive selection of major voices in Czech cinema to audiences in North America,” says Criterion Collection president Peter Becker.

“The NFA has been an invaluable partner, not only for their first-class restoration and preservation efforts, but for their role in educating us all about the overlooked treasures of Czech cinema by directors whose names may not be as well known today, but whose works are as relevant now as ever.“

The below list of 30 films have been confirmed, but more features are still being negotiated.

  • All My Good Countrymen (Všichni dobří rodáci, 1968)
  • Black Peter (Černý Petr, 1963)
  • Capricious Summer (Rozmarné léto, 1968)
  • Closely Observed Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966)
  • Courage for Every Day (Každý den odvahu, 1964)
  • The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol, 1968)
  • Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966)
  • Diamonds of the Night (Démanty noci, 1964)
  • Distant Journey (Daleká cesta, 1949)
  • The Ear (Ucho, 1970)
  • The Firemen’s Ball (Hoří, má panenko, 1967)
  • From Saturday to Sunday (Ze soboty na neděli, 1931)
  • Ikarie XB 1 (1963)
  • Intimate Lighting (Intimní osvětlení, 1965)
  • The Joke (Žert, 1968)
  • Loves of a Blonde (Lásky jedné plavovlásky, 1965)
  • Marketa Lazarová (1965)
  • Pearls of the Deep (Perličky na dně, 1965)
  • A Report on the Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostech, 1966)
  • Return of the Prodigal Son (Návrat ztraceného syna, 1967)
  • The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze, 1965)
  • Something Different (O něčem jiném, 1963)
  • Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku, 1973)
  • Transport From Paradise (Transport z ráje, 1962)
  • Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Valerie a týden divů, 1970)
  • When the Cat Comes (Až přijde kocour, 1963)
  • A Boring Afternoon (Fádní odpoledne, 1964) (short film)
  • Footprints (Stopy, 1960) (short film)
  • The Hall of Lost Steps (Sál ztracených kroků, 1960) (short film)
  • Uncle (Strejda, 1959) (short film)

Lead pic: Forman's Loves of a Blonde

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