Beyond the Black Forest - Dark Fairy Tales

Oddball Films Presents Czech Please! an evening of mind-blowing animation from the former Czechoslovakia.  From cut-outs to puppets to stop-motion; from the adorable to the dark and thought-provoking, this evening will open your eyes to the brilliance, vision and creativity of some of the great Czech animators.

Red Stain (Color 1963, Zdenek Miler)
A much darker vision from the man that brought us the joyful and colorful Little Mole cartoons.  A somber tale of fisherman and his small son who try to retain peace after they discover that their country has been invaded and that an armory has been established near their house. The blood of the peaceful protestors becomes a swath of red flowers that grow all around the armory and force it to shut down.  Miler made the film to break free from his little mole rut and try something different; a moving and thoughtful piece drawn simply with charcoal on paper.

The Hand (Color, 1965) 
This is Jiri Trnka’s last, and many say his best work. “The Hand” is an allegorical take on the Stalinist Czech dictatorial regime. Trnka directed some of the most acclaimed animated films ever made. In 1966, four years before his death, Newsday lauded him as "second to Chaplin as a film artist because his work inaugurated a new stage in a medium long dominated by Disney." Trnka, was a 1936 graduate of Prague's School of Arts and Crafts. In 1945 he set up an animation unit with several collaborators at the Prague film studio; they called the unit "Trick Brothers." Trnka specialized in puppet animation, a traditional Czech art form, of which he became the undisputed master. He also created animated cartoons, but it was his puppet animation that made him an internationally recognized artist and the winner of film festival awards at Venice and elsewhere. His films are brilliant, bizarre and meticulously rendered.

The Devil's Mill (Color, 1949)

A delightfully spooky stop-motion puppet short from Czech master Jiri Trnka. An old soldier sets out to defeat the evil forces that dwell inside an old mill.  When he spends the night in the haunted place, the demons inside do their best to foist him out, but the veteran stands tall and stands up to the mischievous evil. This excerpt features a dancing demon and a delightful array of puppet poltergeisting.


The Sword (Color, 1967)

This clever cutout animation is short and er… to the point, The Sword is allegory on the ignorance of people who enjoy their life to those who are suffering or dying at the very same instant.

Boom (Color, 1979)
The global arms race as animated by the legendary Bretislav Pojar (Balablok). Takes a look at the history of aggression and the theory that might makes right. By extension, it carries us into the atomic and missile age, postulating various scenarios for planetary self-destruction, both planned and accidental. Without narration, using only sound effects and music, the film asks the question: is this THE END?  Awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 1979.

Queer Birds (B+W, 1967) 
From KRÁTKÝ FILM PRAHA a.s., the Czech company that produced animated, cartoon and puppet films from directors like Jiří Trnka, Jan Švankmajer, Karel Zeman comes Queer Birds, a bizarre cold war tale of a black cat and two terrorized birds. The film features a brilliant and innovative pre electronic music score. One of the top animated films in the Oddball archives!