Wenceslas Square
Photo: Daniel Antal (Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0
On Prague's famous Wenceslas Square during the Velvet Revolution of November 1989


In the third part of our mini series commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in many parts of Central and Southeastern Europe, Kamila Kubásková, a recent graduate, currently based in Munich, shares her experiences of growing up in the Czech Republic.

It must have been wonderful to have been living in Czechoslovakia in November 1989. Although I belong to the lucky ones who never had to put up with communist rule, I could not particularly enjoy the events of the year, as I was a baby with entirely apolitical interests. But I can vividly imagine the atmosphere of the day. I can feel the excitement, the air of anticipation and expectation. I picture people all over the country waiting impatiently for news from the capital, trying to comprehend what was happening and knowing that everything in their lives was about to change. The revolution was a peaceful event that filled the people with euphoria and, for the first time in many decades, with hope for a better future.

My parents could not join the spontaneous celebrations that were happening in the streets, because they had to look after me and my older brother. However, the knowledge that their children would grow up with the freedom to travel, study and live without constant fear of their own government, was satisfying enough for them. Parents of our generation also knew that our lives will be very different to their own and they would not always be able to prepare for all the choices that would lie ahead of us.

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00

Boys will be boys


Pojedeme k mori
Photo: © Bio Illusion, courtesy of Miloslav Šmídmajer
Young talents Petr Šimčák and Jan Maršal in Pojedeme k moři


Cafe Cinema is returning to Sixth Sense! In the first edition of this new run, E&M's Frances Jackson reviews Pojedeme k moři, a ground-breaking Czech film written and directed by actor Jiří Mádl.

At a time when many critics have been despairing of the state of Czech feature films and finding only documentaries to their taste, there comes along a film that not only bucks the trend, but also seems to have re-written the rulebook.

Pojedeme k moři (English title: To See the Sea) was released in April of this year and quickly became one of the biggest hits of the summer, bagging a number of domestic and international festival prizes along the way. Both young and old have flocked to the cinemas of the Czech Republic to watch this unconventional comedy, which tells the story of Tomáš, an 11-year-old scamp with bold ambitions to become the next Miloš Forman.

Armed with just a digital camera – a birthday present from his parents – and a nose for intrigue, Tomáš sets out to produce his own documentary about life in the southern Bohemian city of České Budějovice. With the help of his equally mischievous best friend Haris, he uncovers a number of mysteries and comes to appreciate that all is not as it seems – particularly when it comes to relationships. 

Published in Cafe Cinema
Sunday, 08 April 2012 07:31

Good Reads 08/04/2012


Lucy, Heart Editor 

New house? Make it a bright pink windmill

Whether you're travelling through the countryside in the Czech Republic or the Republic of Ireland, you'll see them: oversized houses, painted bizarre colours, and sometimes even featuring turrets and ornamental windmills. In countries where individual wealth has increased quickly over the last twenty years, people are sometimes scarily eager to show that they have the most oddly-shaped carport in the village - and Czech photographer Jan Kruml has documented some of the most weird and wonderful examples. Kruml has campaigned in the past to encourage Czech villagers to maintain their heritage and restore old buildings rather than building new ones inspired by their exotic holidays. His work raises interesting questions: should kitsch eyesores be banned, or does everyone have the right to make their home a castle?

What happened to the revolution?

If Marx travelled forward in time and found himself in the year 2012, watching bankers spend their bonuses or seeing Chinese workers queuing up for jobs making iphones at one of the Foxconn factories, he might have been surprised. Not all of his predictions have come true: for instance, how can we explain the fact that the financial crisis has not yet resulted in a mass revolt by the global proletariat? John Lanchester sets out to answer this question in a lecture called Marx at 193, which is very accessible to non-economists and features a fascinating description of "the world's most typical human being."

Women who "sell" their "assets": businesswomen, or victims?

Pole-dancing: can it be empowering? Or does it always encourage sexual inequality? The question of sexual empowerment divides young women today, with books such as Catherine Hakim's Honey Money suggesting that women should use their attractiveness for their own gain. Poet Sabrina Mahfouz tackles the question in her poem First Night, about a stripper's first night on the job. Mahfouz is an impressive performer, and the poem has many great moments linguistically (look out for the double use of "hard") - but what I really like about it is the way she creates a clamour of disorientating voices. For me, the feeling of overload which you have at the end of the poem reflects many women's sense of confusion and uncertainty when it comes to the question of empowerment.

Published in Good Reads
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