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Czech Republic, 2007, 52 Minute Running Time
Program: Documentary FilmsLanguage: Czech, English English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Jan Šikl
Editor: Simon Spidla, Jan DanhelScreenwriter: Jan Šikl
The revival of nonfiction filmmaking in post-Soviet Eastern Europe has been fraught with financing and distribution problems, but documentarians like the Czech Republic’s Jan Šikl remain undaunted. See You in Denver is the latest installment of Šikl’s renowned Czech television series Private Century, in which he provides narration for vintage home movie clips taken from the archives of ordinary families to illuminate the private drama of their—and all of our—lives.
See You in Denver chronicles half a century in the lives of the beleaguered Cvancaru family. Focusing on a patriarch who founded a pre–World War II film distribution company while operating a chain of theaters in Prague that showed slapstick comedies and Hollywood Westerns, it also follows his cinephile son, František, who lived vicariously through motion pictures until his father lost the business and he and his friends began making their own films. (The boys’ upbeat phrase upon parting, lifted straight out of a Ford and Hawks flick, was always the same: “See you in Denver.”) After being expelled from school and even unjustly imprisoned by the Communist authorities, František fulfilled a lifelong ambition in the wake of the political upheaval of 1968 by emigrating to the United States—the land of his silver-screen dreams.
Šikl has directed a number of Private Century episodes—but none more personal, he acknowledges, than this poignant look at one family’s cinematic obsession and its relation to the hunger for freedom.
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