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Noir Film Festival announces its complete program. It will screen films by the Coen brothers and pay tribute to Hana Maciuchová.

Noir Film Festival announces its complete program. It will screen films by the Coen brothers and pay tribute to Hana Maciuchová.

Less than two months before the 9th Noir Film Festival, the team of organizers announces its complete program. In the five days of the festival (from 18 until 22 August), five interior venues and the courtyard of the Český Šternberk castle will screen fifty films from eight program sections.

We have already announced the main program section Noir Without Prejudice consisting of five American films from 1947-1951 which are intertwined with the topic of racial hate and xenophobia. It will be accompanied by a special screening of a recent feature debut Queen & Slim (2019), directed by American director Melina Matsoukas, about two lovers who become fugitives after having murdered a racist policeman in self-defense. “Crime-romance-road movie, which soon after its release got the nickname “black Bonnie and Clyde”, was adapted from a screenplay by award-winning actress and creative producer Lena Waithe. It relates burning issues that have been eroding (not only) the USA – police brutality, lawlessness and systemic racism against African-Americans, which are now in the focus of the Black Lives Matter protests,” introduces the movie Jana Bébarová, Noir Film Festival programmer.

There will also be a special screening of On Dangerous Ground (1951) which was one of the first films directed by Nicholas Ray, later well-renowned for Rebel Without a Cause (1955) starring James Dean. The film noir On Dangerous Ground, unconventionally set in a snowy countryside, is a tribute to the acting talent of Ida Lupino, who is also recognized as a director in this year’s retrospective section. “To filmgoers, Ida Lupino, labeled as ‘the Bette Davis for the poor’, was the embodiment of a strong-willed and emancipated woman character featured in dozens of roles in the 30s, 40s and early 50s, as is the case in Ray’s film where she played a blind woman who, despite her handicap, does not show any weakness, on the contrary, she is an active and leading character,” says festival programmer Milan Hain.

The disablements, both psychological traumas and physical injuries, are covered in the program section Amnesiac Noir presenting various stories of war veterans. These films, and many more, may be put into a broader context of Hollywood cinema with watching Jenni Gold’s documentary CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion (2018), a composition of interviews and large volume of clips which chart the alterations of presenting characters with handicaps in Hollywood.

Coen Brothers: Noir Pranksters

In addition to the classic film noirs of the 1940s and 50s, the Noir Film Festival traditionally showcases revisionist neo noirs. After last year’s focus on the work of David Lynch, this year’s program will encompass four films directed by the Coen brothers. “The creative siblings from Minneapolis are connected with the lifelong ambition to do things in their own way; their works are quintessence of art and entertainment put together,” comments Jana Bébarová and adds: “Over 35 years, they have been amusing viewers with their whimsical approach to genres and their archetypes and conventions, the Coens surprise them with unexpected twists and win their hearts thanks to their unique sense of humor and ironic lens through which they view American pop-culture.” All four of the films in our selection – Blood Simple (1984), Miller’s Crossing (1990), Fargo (1996), and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) – are original variations on film noir and illustrate the ingenuity of the Coen brothers when constructing storylines and balancing the topics of passion and crime, which clearly shows their inspiration from the hardboiled school of James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett.

Czechoslovak Noir and Tribute to Hana Maciuchová

This year, we keep the festival tradition of screening Czechoslovak films featuring various degree of noir elements, whether it is the claustrophobic drama Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (1959) adapted from a novel by Jan Otčenášek, or the psychological murder mystery drama The Plain Old Maid (1959) featuring Dana Medřická as a strict accounting auditor and Karel Höger as publishing house editor. The suffocating atmosphere full of unexpressed longing is shown in Vertigo (1962), directed by Karel Kachyňa and starring fresh talents of Eva Šolcová and Petr Skála. The demon of alcohol rears its head in the films we have already screened in previous years and reappears in the intimate drama Snake Poison (1981), directed by František Vláčil, where the arrival of the lively Vlaďka (Ilona Svobodová) breathes new life into the days of her alcoholic father (Josef Vinklář). The actress Ilona Svobodová will introduce the film in person on Saturday, 21 August. The visitors can also look forward to an added bonus in the form of the silent film by J. S. Kolár set in Rudolphinian Prague, The Arrival from the Darkness (1921), which will be accompanied by live violoncello performance by Terezie Kovalová.

As an homage to a longtime patron of the festival, Hana Maciuchová, who has passed away this year, the festival will present two TV productions: The Man in the Net (1973) and Death on the Hour (1981). The former adaptation of a crime novel by Hugh Wheeler directed by Jiří Sequens is about a painter who seeks to redeem himself in a city which sees him as an outcast. However, he gets help from a group of children for whom looking for the real killer is more like a game. A novel by Richard Lockridge was an inspiration for a film by Zdeněk Kubeček, Death on the Hour (1981), which reveals a story of a cunning murder committed in a competitive fight and pressure on independent American television.

The complete program of the 9th Noir Film Festival is available on the festival website: https://www.noirfilmfestival.cz/en/. You can already book and purchase single tickets to all screenings, or to purchase festival passes. For further information, visit the website: https://www.noirfilmfestival.cz/en/tickets/.

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