Restored Version of Miloš Forman Classic Black Peter Premieres in Prague
Czech director Miloš Forman won fame at home for his films Loves of a Blonde and The Fireman’s Ball, which scored back-to-back Oscar nominations for Czechoslovakia, before emigrating to the states and winning his own Academy Awards for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus, among other accolades.
But Black Peter (Černý Petr), Forman’s debut feature (following the documentary Audition and short films), remains relatively little-seen and little-available outside of the Czech Republic, though its innovative techniques gave a glimpse of what was to come for the acclaimed director.
Now, it might get a little more recognition: a lovingly-restored new digital print of the film premiered earlier this week at the Venice Film Festival, where it was first awarded 53 years ago (it also won an award at the ‘64 Locarno Film Festival).
Black Peter also happens to be one of the titles included on a list of films to be distributed in North America by Janus Films and the Criterion Collection.
A documentary-style fictional narrative utilizing handheld camerwork, a non-professional cast of actors, and improvised dialogue, Black Peter charts the life of the titular character, a teenager who has started his first job in communist Czechoslovakia.
The new digital restoration of Black Peter is the latest from the Czech National Film Archive, who have also restored Czech classics like the sci-fi feature Ikarie XB 1.
The restoration was conducted with the cooperation of cinematographer Jan Malíř and sound designer Pavel Rejholec, along with assistant director Ivan Passer, with hopes of realizing Forman’s wishes that the film “will look the same as when we shot it in 1963.”
Next week, the restored print will have its premiere in Prague. Black Peter will be screened at Kino Lucerna on Wednesday, September 13, at 20:00 with English subtitles. On September 14, the film will screen at Kino 99 in Kolín, where Black Peter was shot in the summer of ‘63.
If you can’t make it to see Black Peter then, watch for subsequent showings in Prague’s arthouse cinemas and an eventual blu-ray / DVD release by the end of the year.