Friday, May 3, 2013

Marketa Lazarová (1967)

WHO: Czech director František Vláčil made this.

WHAT: The second and final full week of the San Francisco International Film Festival starts today. I was recruited to provide seven week 2 picks for the 7x7 website and the piece was just published. Since one of my picks is Marketa Lazarová, let me quote from myself:
If you thought Soviet master Andrei Tarkovsky was the only Eastern Bloc filmmaker to meticulously recreate the Middle Ages in a stunning, black-and-white widescreen epic, you need to see František Vlácil's 1967 film, Marketa Lazarová, perennially named the "greatest Czech film of all time." Its unblinking approach to medieval violence between pagans and Christians easily puts it in a class with Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev,
WHERE/WHEN: Final SFIFF screening tonight at 8:45 at New People Cinema.

WHY: Tonight's screening is a special event. Marketa Lazarová screens in honor of George Gund III, who chaired the board of the San Francisco Film Society until his death this past January. Gund was a tireless advocate of Eastern European and Czechoslovakian cinema in particular, and the print of Vlácil's masterpiece I first viewed at the Pacific Film Archive more than ten years ago came to the PFA directly due to Gund.

I was always too shy to approach the SFFS board president when I saw him at festival events. Part of this must have been due to a sense of regret planted in me from childhood. Growing up in a middle-class household less than a block from Alamo Elementary School in the Richmond District, I attended that school and befriended Gund's son Gregory, who was exactly one day older than me and was a member my first-grade class. When we became friends I had no idea how wealthy Greg's family was; all I knew is that hockey was a big deal in his household, but that he was also the only boy in my grade who was willing to forego playing team sports during recess and lunch in order to hang out with an unathletic kid like me and play word games and pore over Safari cards. Once I was invited over to the family home- I'd never knew about mansions with elevators before. My friendship with Greg ended when he moved to Idaho the summer after first grade (presumably a move related to the Gund connection to the Sun Valley Suns). I lost touch with him as most kids tend to do when friends move, and by the time I seriously thought of trying to contact him again, it was too late, as he'd recently been killed in a plane crash.

So I'll be attending tonight's screening not just to see a great work of cinematic art, but to pay some small tribute to the man whose parenting produced a little boy who made early elementary school far more bearable for an introverted kid like me.

HOW: 35mm print.

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