Praška filmska škola

The Prague film school[1] (Serbo-Croatian: Praška filmska škola, Прашка филмска школа), Czech film school[2] (Serbo-Croatian: Češka filmska škola, Чешка филмска школа) and Prague wave[3] (Serbo-Croatian: Praški talas, Прашки талас) are the terms usually applied to the works of several Yugoslav film directors who rose to prominence in the 1970s, after graduating from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). Five prominent Yugoslav directors born from 1944 to 1947 have attended classes at FAMU: Lordan Zafranović (b. 1944), Srđan Karanović (b. 1945), Goran Marković (b. 1946), Goran Paskaljević (b. 1947), and Rajko Grlić (b. 1947).[4] Emir Kusturica, who was born is 1954, is sometimes also considered a member of the Prague wave. Cinematographers Živko Zalar (who has worked with Grlić, Karanović and Marković), Predrag Pega Popović (who has worked with Zafranović and Marković), Vilko Filač (who has worked with Kusturica), Valentin Perko, and Pavel Grzinčič[5] have also studied at FAMU.[4][6]

Since they have all been FAMU students at the end of 1960s and the beginning of 1970s, the directors which are considered a part of the Prague wave have mostly been influenced by the directors of Czechoslovak New Wave, such as Miloš Forman, Jiří Menzel, and Oscar-winning FAMU professors, Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos.[7] The events of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 have also strongly influenced Prague film school and have made the basis for this loosely defined subgenre.[1]

In 1968, the first public appearance of the Prague film school members happened when Grlić, as a student, directed his first professional television documentary entitled Mi iz Praga (Us from Prague).[8] The film, produced by TV Zagreb, has focused on the interactions between the Yugoslav students in Prague. In this film, it has been pointed out it was Marković who had first enrolled FAMU, prompting the others to follow his steps.[9] The first feature film directed by a Prague film school member has been Zafranović's Nedjelja (1969), starring Goran Marković,[10] followed by Karanović's Društvena igra (1972) and Grlić's Kud puklo da puklo (1974), which have been praised by the modernism-influenced film critics, but have not yet been universally accepted by larger Yugoslav audiences. Yet, the second half of the 1970s brought fame to the members of this informal circle and the term Praška škola has been coined by the critics after the success of its members at the most prestigious Yugoslav and international film festivals. In 1976, TV series Grlom u jagode, written by Grlić and Karanović and directed by Karanović, became extremely popular all across Yugoslavia. That same year, Paskaljević received Golden Arena for Best Director award at the Pula Film Festival, the single most important Yugoslav film festival, for his first feature film Čuvar plaže u zimskom periodu. In 1977, Marković's debut film Specijalno vaspitanje has won the FIPRESCI award at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg. In 1978, all four main prizes at the Pula Film Festival have been awarded to the movies directed by the former FAMU students: Okupacija u 26 slika (Zafranović), Bravo maestro (Grlić), Pas koji je volio vozove (Paskaljević), and Miris poljskog cveća (Karanović), which has also been awarded Golden Arena for Best Cinematographer (Živko Zalar). Throughout the 1980s, the term Prague film school has been associated with many successful films, bringing distinctive aesthetics and appealing to critics, as well as to the general public. Seven out of ten Golden Arenas for Best Director awarded from 1976 to 1986 went to the Prague film school, with each member except for Marković receiving at least one. The successes of two-time Palme d'Or winner Emir Kusturica, who attended FAMU several years after the other members of the Prague wave, have cemented the reputation of the Prague film school as the most revered subgenre in the history of Yugoslav cinematography.

The term Prague film school is sometimes considered dubious, since the authors themselves have never used the term to describe their work, and were of various, often very differing artistic sensibilities and directorial approaches.[3] In 1990, Marković has written an essayistic book entitled Češka škola ne postoji (The Czech School Doesn't Exist), in which he describes his days at FAMU, the relations with the other students and their artistic similarities and differences.[2] In a 2001 interview, Karanović explicitly pointed out that he strongly opposes the term by saying: "I think that everyone has got extremely bored with the term Prague film school quite a while ago. I cannot deny that I have studied in Prague, that I have learned a lot — yet, not everything — there, and that I've made lasting friendships with my colleagues from former Yugoslavia who have studied there at the same time. Yet, I reckon that we are all very different artists and only in some of our films can one find some hints of influence by the 1960s Czech cinematography. I appreciate the films by Rajko Grlić, Goran Marković, Goran Paskaljević, Lordan Zafranović and Emir Kusturica very much, but I think that all of them deserve to be observed individually, and not as a part of this or any other group."[11] Yet, the retrospectives of the Prague film school have been held in Belgrade in 2001,[11] and in Zagreb in 2014, when all the initial Prague film school members, except for Karanović, have met and reminisced their Prague years.[1][12] In August 2014, Zafranović, Marković, Paskaljević and Grlić announced they would be filming together for the first time. Grlić and Marković have said that an anthology film with working title Nirvana was to be filmed in the memory of their professor Elmar Klos.[7][13]



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