In a stretch, it could be argued that Czechoslovakia was the homeland of the motion picture. It was in 1818 that a Bohemian scientist named Johannes Evagelitsa Purkinje first described "Persistence of Vision" in his writings. This phenomenon--the tendency of the human retina to briefly retain an image it has just seen--is the optical principle by which sequential pictures are made to look like "motion pictures." Purkinje put his observation to use, too--in 1861 he created an animated diagram of the workings of the human heart.
It's in a more figurative sense that the Czech cinema has been mapping the human heart ever since. Some of the most recent such attempts come to the Valley over the next two weeks in the film festival "Czech It Out!" Beginning on Tuesday, February 2, at the AMC Arizona Center 24, Third Street and Van Buren, and continuing through Friday, February 12, the fest features eight films, none made earlier than 1993, by contemporary Czech directors.
It kicks off on Tuesday, February 2, with Those Wonderful Years That Sucked, Petr Nikolaev's adaptation of Michal Viewegh's coming-of-age novel about a fat little misfit boy. Indian Summer (Wednesday, February 3), the feature debut of 28-year-old director Sasa Gedeon, is another coming-of-age tale.
On Thursday, February 4, A Forgotten Light--the true story of a priest's struggle with the government to save a rural church--is screened; andon Friday, February 5, the selection is Dead Beetle, a black comedy about a wanna-be actor's romance with a mental patient, directed by Pavel Marek.
The fest resumes on Tuesday, February 9, with Ivan Vojnar's The Way Through the Bleak Woods, and continues with Zdenek Tyc's supernatural tale Razor-Blades on Wednesday, February 10, and the rock-and-roll satire Mnaga--Happy End on Thursday, February 11. The Moravian historical drama Sekal Has to Die, by director Vladimir Michalek, wraps up the series on Friday, February 12.
Showtimes are at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Individual tickets for evening shows are $6 for adults and $4 for seniors and students; all matinee tickets are $4. A variety of festival passes are available, ranging in price from $14 to $40. Call 534-3751 for more information.