Archive of films The Firemen's Ball / Hoří, má panenko

Czechoslovakia / Italy
1967, 71 min

Section: Out of the Past
Year: 2012

This film, whose digitally restored version is being screened at the festival in its world premiere, provides an eloquent and utterly convincing argument against those who claim that you can’t get a good theme out of a banal situation. All Forman needed was a single evening at a provincial firemen’s ball to say everything worth saying about the pettiness of man and its consequences – all wrapped up in a highly entertaining package.


Synopsis

"Never before have I seen so many unsightly faces on-screen in one place!” Carlo Ponti was said to have exclaimed in outrage, at the same time refusing to invest the promised sum for the production of this satirical comedy. He would probably have found other reasons for further indignation since, as in other films from Forman’s Czechoslovak era, it lacks a robust story and dependable plotline and, instead of a strong leading man, the film offers us a community hall full of essentially anonymous outsiders. But the things Forman does with them! He transformed the pub which hosts the firemen’s ball into an arena where various human failings and peccadilloes are paraded in the harshest light even though the situations that play out here appear irresistibly comical and highly entertaining. The Firemen’s Ball, the last film Forman shot in his native country, is more than a brilliant typology of his characters’ behaviour, however. The provincial ball with its spectacularly unsuccessful accompanying programme, and the ensuing fiasco when the firemen are called out to an actual fire, could clearly be used in a parable about the destructive force of small-mindedness.

General partner of the digital restauration is Czech Film Foundation.

About the director

Miloš Forman (b. 1932, Čáslav, Czechoslovakia) is the best-known Czech director. He studied screenwriting and script editing at FAMU (1958) and in the 1960s was one of the most original filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave. He left for the USA at the end of the 1960s, where he made a number of hit films (15 Oscars). While he started out using original screenplays and making minimalist films unrivalled for their authenticity and tragicomic tone, as an exile he began working on adaptations of literary works with strong dramatic impact and compelling storylines. In these films as well he established his keen sense of the nature of characters and situations, and concentrated on his key themes, chiefly the unequal struggle between the individual and oppressive power (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975; Ragtime, 1981) and the malignancy of human parochialism (Amadeus, 1984).

Contacts

National Film Archive
Malešická 12, 130 00, Praha 3
Czech Republic
E-mail: nfa@nfa.cz
www: www.nfa.cz

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Out of the Past
   
Director: Miloš Forman
Screenplay: Miloš Forman, Jaroslav Papoušek, Ivan Passer
Dir. of Photography: Miroslav Ondříček
Music: Karel Mareš
Editor: Miroslav Hájek
Producer: Rudolf Hájek
Production: Filmové studio Barrandov
Cast: Jan Vostrčil, Josef Šebánek, Ladislav Adam, Vratislav Čermák, František Debelka, Milada Ježková, Alena Květová, Olga Blechová
Contact: National Film Archive

Guests

Michal Bregant

Film Institution Rep., Cinema Representative, Distributor

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