Czech Avant-garde Film

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311CAF ZK 2 2T English winter

Subject guarantor

Martin ČIHÁK

Name of lecturer(s)

Martin ČIHÁK

Learning outcomes of the course unit

Students will comprehend two key aspects that specify the history of the Czech avant-garde film. Students will determine three fairly isolated stages in the development of Czech avant-garde during the 20th century.

Mode of study

lecture + screening

Prerequisites and co-requisites


Course contents

Czech avant-garde and experimental film in historical overview, we will follow the path of those films and authors, whose creation and work was driven by an inner need of expression or the desire of discovering unique and author-bound means of expression of the film language.

There are two key aspects that specify the history of the Czech avant-garde film (sometimes called as an experimental film): The first would be the discontinuity of it's development, caused mostly by the social and historical changes of the 20th century that took place in central Europe. The second aspect is a certain retardation and delayed development, compared to similar movements in Europe or overseas. We can determine three fairly isolated stages in the development of Czech avant-garde during the 20th century: the thirties, seventies-eighties and finally the nineties.

Thus the significance of the Czech avant-garde cannot be simply derived from a comparison with the development in other countries and a fixation on the superficial criteria of „novelty“ or „freshness“. The main criterion should be how these mentally independent films managed to address and affect the social situation and cinematography of the time.

We will concentrate solely on pictures that were created using film stock and were projected from film (which is why we shall not discuss video art or the so called New media). However many of the original films are damaged or hard to access. That is why we will, unfortunately, only see these pictures in an electronic form (various examples screened on DVD or VHS), which of course deprives us of the unique act of light projection from the original film material.

If it would be possible, we will make one additional screening (during the semester) of some selected works from original 16 mm or 35mm film prints.

Topic's schedule:

1.Introduction (cultural-historical contexts, precursors, film librettos, etc.)

2.The Beginners (Alexander Hackenschmied: Aimless Walk -1930, On The Prague Castle – 1932, etc.)

3.Light & electricity (Light Penetrates the Darkness – 1930, Idea in The Search of Light – 1938, etc.)

4.Advertising film and popular scientific film (Play of The Bubbles – 1936, Highway Sings – 1937, Magic Eye -1939, etc.)

5.Čeněk Zahradníček and amateur films of the 30's (Atom of The Eternity – 1934, Story of A Soldier – 1934, etc.)

6.Absence of avantgarde 40's - 60's (new storytelling and searching for geometrical forms and informel structures)

7.“Amateurs's underground” - new generation of the 70's - 80's: Miroslav Janek, Pavel Bárta, Jiří Smýkal, etc.

8.“Amateurs's underground” - new generation of the 70's - 80's: Ivan Tatíček, Petr Hvižď, Petr Slabý, Pavel Marek & Bulšitfilm, etc.

9.Experimental film of the 90's (Martin Blažíček, Martin Ježek, Martin Klapper, František Wirth, Vít Pancíř, Emil Kubiš, etc.)

10.FAMU and Experimental Film (contemporary situation)

  1. Additional screening of some original film prints (16 mm or 35 mm)

Recommended or required reading


Assessment methods and criteria

1.Class Attendance and participation: mandatory in order to pass the course.

2.Oral Defense: students will meet individually (in small groups) with the instructor and present a brief analysis of a chosen film, person or historical period etc.


This course is suitable for anyone able to open her or his eyes and mind.

RNDr. Martin Čihák, Ph.D. email:

Schedule for winter semester 2019/2020:

room 107
Room No. 1

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel1)
Date Day Time Tutor Location Notes No. of paralel
Thu 19:00–21:25 Martin ČIHÁK Room No. 1
Lažanský palác
lecture parallel1

Schedule for summer semester 2019/2020:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans