Czech Velvet celebrates the 30th anniversary of 1989 with cabaret, electronica, and so much more.
This November marks 30 years since the events of 1989 redrew the political map of Europe, affecting millions and millions of lives.
In Czechoslovakia, the peaceful civic resistance that resulted in Václav Havel becoming president and transforming political domination by one party into a pluralist democracy was called the Velvet Revolution.
For almost the entire month, the Czech Centre London will host a huge festival of arts, film, photography, music and theatre, all being showcased at venues across the city. From Rich Mix to Regent Street Cinema, and so many more…
Get on your dancing shoes for Velvet Havel – a five-time, award-winning, cabaret-style musical that tells the striking story of a man with a unique personality, who, thanks to the absurdity of real life, becomes the first Czech president.
Another not-to-be-missed moment of the festival is Made in Prague, one of the UK’s oldest national film showcases. Its 23rd edition boasts seven UK premieres hosted by Regent Street Cinema and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, all exploring Czech society today.
To finish on a high, head to Electronica: Vision of Sound, the closing night gala featuring Floex & Tom Hodge, Mïus X Attaray Visual, NOON and Stroon & Kubriel. These Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak musicians will join forces for a one-off experience, fusing intricate electronics and dizzying visuals to make for a groovy night.
And this is only the beginning of what you can expect at Czech Velvet. Stunning photography exhibition ‘1989 The Velvet Revolution’ at the Czech Centre’s Vitrinka Gallery will capture ground-breaking moments in modern Czech history: the demonstrations, the fall of the communist dictatorship and the exhilarating atmosphere that followed. Others will look at these historical moments through personal testimonies from today’s perspective in a unique Touching 1989 video project. Old documentaries will be revisited by multi-award winning directors (e.g. 1988 Channel 4 documentary series The Other Europe). Guest of the festival, director Helena Třeštíková, will introduce her latest film which premiered at 2019 Cannes International Film Festival, Forman vs. Forman.
A special November edition of Dash Café will see everybody from diplomats and DJs to actresses, award-winning screenwriters and leading journalists explore the long term impact of the 1989 revolution, and whether that extraordinary spirit of activism still exists today.
After all that questioning, thinking and exploring, there’ll certainly be room for more light-hearted moments across the festival. You really have to enjoy Most! humour at the festival’s appropriately titled show, which presents a provocative portrayal of a local Czech community packed with politically incorrect humour, crude language and taboo topics. Lead actor Jiří Schmitzer and directors Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník will then discuss the UK premiere of their comedy/revenge thriller Old Timers, in which two ageing WWII veterans set out on their last mission to murder the communist prosecutor who once jailed them.
“Whether you are fascinated by this key moment in European history, or know absolutely nothing about it, this is the best chance to catch up, learn, admire, and enjoy 30 years since the Velvet Revolution,” adds Premysl Pela, the director of Czech Centre London.
[Featured photo:CzechTourism, @Michal Vitásek].