Director: Karel Vachek / Jan Němec

34 mins, 1963, Czechoslovakia, Black and White 35mm, Subtitled / 63 mins, 1964, Czechoslovakia, Black and White, 35mm, Subtitled

This film screened on Saturday 8th April 2017. 

Screening as part of the Czech New Wave season, April 8th to 30th. A multi-event pass is available in person or by phone at the IFI Box Office – 5 events for €45.

Described by Jan Švankmajer as ‘the strongest personality of the New Wave’, Karel Vachek’s reputation was based largely on Moravian Hellas, his graduation short film, an experimental documentary essay on the Strážnice Folklore Festival. Blending traditional reportage with staged sequences, Vachek’s unconventional approach presents the festival and its participants in a heightened, theatrical fashion.

A vital entry to the nascent New Wave, the premise of Diamonds of the Night is a model of simplicity: two unnamed teenage boys flee a German train taking them to a concentration camp. Relentlessly pursued though forbidding terrain, the terrified, starving youths must endure extremes in order to survive. Jan Němec’s début feature, a lean reduction of Arnost Lustig’s autobiographical novel, Darkness Casts No Shadow, is a sustained exercise in dynamic minimalism and raw poeticism. The forward rush of the hand-held camera, the associative editing and textured sound design coalesce to create an intoxicating cinematic experience.

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