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FESTIVALS / AWARDS Czech Republic

Czechoslovak and Bollywood film noir to mingle at a medieval castle during the Noir Film Festival

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- Psychological trauma and xenophobia are the main topics of the film festival that homes in on this one, single genre

Czechoslovak and Bollywood film noir to mingle at a medieval castle during the Noir Film Festival
Vertigo by Karel Kachyňa

The upcoming Noir Film Festival, a showcase celebrating the genre popular in the 1940s and 1950s, which continues to exert long-lasting influences, will be presenting a raft of Czechoslovak and Bollywood noir films. The festival continues with the tradition of presenting domestic movies with a certain degree of noir elements. This year’s line-up includes Vertigo (1962) by Karel Kachyňa, the intimate drama Snake Poison (1981) by František Vláčil, the claustrophobic Romeo, Juliet and Darkness by Jiří Weiss (1959) and the psychological murder-mystery The Plain Old Maid by Miroslav Hubáček (1959).

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To give audiences a more exotic taste of the genre, the programmers have also fished out some noir films from Indian cinema. The section on Bollywood noir includes Guru Dutt’s directorial debut, Baazi (1951), the crime-thriller C.I.D. (1956) by Raj Khosla, and two stories closely related to gothic cinema with added supernatural elements, Madhumati (1958) and Kohraa (1964).

The festival will address the burning question of xenophobia and racism in the Noir Without Prejudice section. “Our film selection from the turn of the 1950s aims to show that in order to become a pariah in noir stories, one did not necessarily have to be a criminal or a victim of amour fou; it was enough just to be ‘different’,” says festival programmer Jana Bébarová. The thematic collection includes one of the first Hollywood films to tackle the issue of anti-Semitism, Crossfire (1947) by Joseph L Mankiewicz; the story of lynching and the Ku Klux Klan Storm Warning (1951), starring future US president Ronald Reagan; and films from small towns whose citizens transformed into a fanaticised mob: The Lawless (1950) and The Well (1951).

Psychological trauma and physical injuries in the stories of war veterans are the subject of the Amnesiac Noir section, which will be put into the context of Hollywood cinema by Jenni Gold’s documentary CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion. After last year’s focus on the work of David Lynch, the Noir Film Festival now trains its spotlight on the films of the Coen brothers. Moreover, the gathering will feature tributes to Bette Davis, Hana Maciuchová, Victor Mature and Ida Lupino as a director.

The ninth edition of the Noir Film Festival runs from 18-22 August at the Český Šternberk Castle in the Czech Republic. The full line-up is available here.

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