The Party And The Guests which was "banned forever" by the Czechoslovak government
The Němec retrospective will include two of the best films of the 60s, as voted by the New York Times critics, Diamonds Of The Night and The Party And The Guests, as well as Oratorio for Prague, which offers unique coverage of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and is being screened in the UK for the first time. The documentary was intended to be about peaceful demonstrations but his subject changed as Soviet tanks rolled into Prague and the director found himself filming the despair and blood of the people instead, in what is the only filmed footage of the invasion. The festival opens with the UK premiere of The Wolf from Royal Vineyard Street (2016), the final film of Němec's his career in which he reimagines his life, and also features his avant-garde biopic of surrealist artist Toyen.
Given the change in the political situation, Nemec was not allowed to work, his films were banned and he was forced into exile in 1974, only returning after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.
The festival said: "This retrospective testifies to the bravery and originality of the work of an artist who has never stopped developing his non-conformist vision and constantly challenged the boundaries of artistic freedom and the limits of film as a medium."
An accompanying exhibition of digital black and white photographs from his unfinished film essay What is behind that Wall? introduces Němec as a keen photographer while providing a wider context to his work.
As a contemporary counterpoint to the retrospective the festival also features highlights of Czech Cinema, including an exclusive premiere of the thrilling HBO series Wasteland by Ivan Zacharias; Bohdan Slama's Ice Mother (Czech nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Fiction Film) and The Teacher by Jan Hrebejk.
The festival, which is organised by the Czech Centre in London, is part of a wider celebration of Czech arts, which runs from November 8 to December 6. For dates and times of the films, along with other events, visit the official site.