Diamonds of the Night
(Démanty noci) Director: Jan Němec, ČSSR, 1964, Czech version / English subtitles, 64 min
Discussion with director Jan Nemec and screening of DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT from a new 35mm film print symbolically conclude the North American tour of the retrospective Independent of Reality: The Films of Jan Nemec. Making its last stop at Svetozor, the touring retrospective presented the oeuvre of an important representative of the Czechoslovak New Wave in 15 important centers of art cinema in the US and Canada. The National Film Archive in Prague will pick up the baton and present its own retrospective of Jan Nemec’s films in the Ponrepo cinema in the fall.
Nemec’s conviction that a director must create “a personal style” and “a world independent of reality as it appears at the time” was already evident in his first feature length film. Diamonds follows the escape of two young concentration camp prisoners through the woods of Sudetenland and the ensuing pursuit of them. Moving freely between the present, dreams, and flashbacks, Nemec employs an aesthetic of Pure Cinema to depict the state of the distressed human mind.
The Jan Nemec touring retrospective was produced by Comeback Company in partnership with the National Film Archive, Aerofilms, and Jan Nemec - Film. Curated from New York by Irena Kovarova. www.comebackcompany.com
Jan Němec (b. 1936, Prague) gave his debut with the psychological drama Diamonds of the Night (1964, Grand Prix, Mannheim), one of the most fascinating works of the Czech New Wave. He also filmed the segment "The Impostors” for Pearls of the Deep (1965), Martyrs of Love (1966) and Report on the Party and Guests (1966, Gran Premio, Bergamo). His short Mother and Son earned him a Grand Prix in Oberhausen, and the documentary about the 1968 invasion, Oratorio for Prague, won the FIPRESCI Prize at Mannheim. Němec was blacklisted from 1970 and couldn’t work. He was forced into exile between 1974 and 1989. Abroad he made the Kafka adaptation Metamorphosis (1975). In the years 1976-89 he lived in California in the U.S. Upon his return he shot The Flames of Royal Love, Code Name: Ruby, Late Night Talks with Mother (Golden Leopard at Locarno), Landscape of My Heart, Toyen, and The Ferrari Dino Girl. At the 2006 KVIFF he received the award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. Since 1999 he’s been a professor at FAMU in Prague. (kviff.com)