Friday 16 May – An Evening with Čaroděj OZ: Wizardly Films for the People

Easy Rider OZ 1Sny toaletarovi

Screening with Performance by Mathew Cunningham. Organised by Hana Janeckova as part of Three Experiments in Translation

Book Tickets – Friday 16 May – 7pm – £3

‘I asked my friends to come for a weekend in the countryside and to bring a camera because I would like to shoot a film. In the meantime I was thinking about a topic. Walking around my flat, my attic and garage, I tried to find some props and costumes – to be used allegorically, symbolically. What I found was used to create a story. At that time, I was digging a small, round swimming pool in the garden. I said to myself, this would be a good setting for the film – that hole. So it was clear that the whole thing would take place in a dug out hole. Then I gathered all the items that I had found to play the extras – chairs, hangers, suitcases and umbrellas.’

(Čaroděj OZ on The Blessed Cleaner – from an interview by A. Moralesová, 7 August 2012)

After several unsuccessful attempts to emigrate and to be accepted to university, Čaroděj OZ (Lubomír Drožd, b.1955) moved from Prague to the countryside where he and his friends (Vladimír Gaar, Pavel Veselý, Irena Gosmanová and others) created a mesmerising body of work spanning film making, publications, events and musical performances. Unlike the previous generation, who confronted the political situation directly after Czechoslovakia was invaded in 1968 by the Soviet Union and the persecution of the 1970s, Čaroděj responded to the repressive regime in occupied communist Czechoslovakia by forming a closed alternative community.

Even though Čaroděj did not considered himself an artist, he worked with a highly lyrical style where economy of means became an economy of expression and cinema as an event fed into the community and its social relations. Chance encounters with the police, communist May Day parades and the objects found in his attic, are used and interwoven into adaptations of  literary and film classics such as Easy Rider, Czech national poems or George Orwell’s 1984.  The community based working methods of the group are close to the London Filmmaker’s Cooperative. The work proposes shared entertainment in the community as an alternative to both consumerism and the regime’s controlled media.

His film works have been digitised only recently at the Centre of Audiovisual Studies, FAMU Prague and this is the first time they will be screened publicly outside of the Czech Republic. This new performative translation has been devised by Hana Janeckova with Matthew Cunningham. The screening will be accompanied by live performance.

The Blessed Cleaner (Blahoslavený uklizeč) 15 min 17 sec
1980, Normal-8, sound, black and white, 6 min 13 sec (sound introduction 7 min 18 sec, sound finale 1 min 42 sec)
Production: Čarodějné filmy pro lid/Wizardly Films for the People
Directed by: Lubomír Drožď (Čaroděj OZ)
Photography: Jiří Vnouček (Giorgionne), Vladimír Gaar (subtitles)
Cast: Pavel Veselý (Pablo de Sax) and others
Music: Gregorian chant, Patti Smith (We shall live again), J. S. Bach

Dreams of a Toilet Attendant (Sny toaletářovy)  18 min 31 sec
A follow up to the Blessed Cleaner is set in the former hole, now a tiled swimming pool, fashioned into a public toilet. The toilet attendant, a person at the bottom of social strata, unable to change anything, fills his time at work by leafing in publication about Oriental art.  When he falls asleep he loses himself in a dreamscape, where hope and horror clash, but without any alleviation from his daily routine.

1980, Super-8, sound, black and white/colour, 11 min 49 sec (sound intro 3 min 50 sec, sound finale 2 min 37 sec)
Production: Čarodějné filmy pro lid/ Wizardly Films for the People
Script, director: Čaroděj OZ (Lubomír Drožď)
Photography: Vladimír Gaar (Mr Karra)
Cast: Pavel Veselý (Pablo de Sax), Irena Gosmanová (Pigi), Vladimír Gaar and others
Music: Vladimír Veit, Hawkwind, Scott McKenzie, Blossom Toes

Easy Rider OZ 53 min
A lose adaptation of the film classic Easy Rider set in the Czech countryside, Easy Rider OZ features guitarist  ‘Andy Warhol’ introducing and closing the film. Two drug dealers discover large quantities of codeine in a field (in this case supplemented by bags of fertilizer). After making a quick sale they set out on a free bike journey , meeting a feminist, a nice policeman, an ‘alternative’ music concert and visiting a brothel until the money eventually runs out…

Accompanied by original music from  Čaroděj’s band Ovoce a Zelenina OZ (Fruit and Vegetables).

1984, Super-8, sound, black and white/colour
Part 1 – 20 min 12 sec (music intro 45 sec)
Interlude – sound 6 min 43 sec
Part 2 – 21 min 31 sec (music finale 5 min 36 sec)
Producer: OZ films
Directed by: Lubomír Drožď, Vladimír Gaar
Photography: Vladimír Gaar, Lubomír Drožď, Irena Gosmanová, Pavel Veselý
Cast: Lubomír Drožď (Čaroděj OZ), Vladimír Gaar (Karra), and others.
Music: Ovoce & Zelenina

Kindly supported by the Film and Television School of Academy of Performing Arts, Prague (FAMU) Centre of Audiovisual Studies. Part of Three Experiments in Translation supported by Arts Council England.

Organiser details

Hana Janeckova is artist, writer and researcher based in London and Prague.
Mathew Cunnigham is artist based in London.
Principal researcher, digital post-production (FAMU) – Martin Blažíček