The sixth annual Aussie and Kiwi Film Fest will take place in Prague from November 1–6, with a main theme of Freedom, to celebrate 30 years since the Velvet Revolution.
The festival will have screenings at Atlas, Lucerna, and Ponrepo cinemas, as well as a screening and debate at Atlas cinema and a discussion at the Vaclav Havel Library about Czechoslovak emigration to Australia and New Zealand. All screenings are in English with Czech subtitles.
Issues raised in the films include the clash of indigenous and European cultures, environmental protection, and women’s rights and self-determination. Two exhibitions will be held as part of the festival.
The opening film will be Ladies in Black, directed by Bruce Beresford. Audiences may remember him for his Hollywood hits Driving Miss Daisy and Tender Mercies.
His new comedy is set in 1959, with three women who work in a department store as the main characters. One is wary of immigrants, but the other two are from Slovenia and Hungary. Circumstances force them all to become friends. The film won awards for Best Actress, Best Original Music Score and Best Costume Design from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in 2018.
At the opening, audiences will hear Aboriginal mission songs sung by indigenous Australian singer Jessie Lloyd. An exhibition of photographs from 1995 by Jiří Jírů, called “Havel in New Zealand” will also be on display in Lucerna Café throughout the festival.
Not all the films are new. A real highlight of the festival will be a 25th anniversary screening of the cult classic road movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It celebrates the freedom of sexual minorities, and also helped to launch the international careers of Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving.
The screening will be preceded by a live drag show from the group Hanky Panky. Following the movie, there will be an after party at Champagneria Bar at Průchodní Street with wines from festival partner Foltýn Wine.
Another actor with a large international following is Geoffrey Rush, who stars alongside action film star Jai Courtney in Storm Boy, set in a sparsely populated area with a boy who bonds with three orphaned pelicans.
The musical drama Daffodils is based on a New Zealand stage play, inspired by real events. It stars Rose McIver, who was in the American supernatural comedy-drama series iZombie, and George Mason, who has been in several Australian series. The screening will be followed by a wine tasting, free to ticket holders.
The movie Vai, made up of short vignettes by nine female directors, focuses on women’s self-determination. This has become an important topic in New Zealand and Pacific Islander cinema.
The segments explore the experiences of women who leave tradition behind in search of education or work. The word “vai” means “water” in all Pacific Island languages.
The Australian drama Buoyancy, which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Berlin film festival, will be accompanied by a post-screening discussion at Atlas on how to free modern-day slaves in the fishing industry. The talk will include experts from the organization La Strada and the Institute of International Relations.
The Vaclav Havel Library will host an evening called “the journey of Czechoslovaks in search of freedom down under plus Havel in the Pacific” on November 5 at 7 pm.
A complete progran can be found here.