CANNES: The Cannes Classics Selection this year includes two films that showcase the rich film heritage of Lativa and the former Czechoslovakia.
Latvia brings the 96 year old director Rolands Kalnins to Cannes to present a restored version of his film Four White Shirts (1967) in Cannes. The film was restored with the backing of the Latvian National Film Centre.
The head of the National Film Centre of Latvia, the film theoretician Dita Rietuma comments, ‘Four White Shirts by Rolands Kalniņš is a work that the Soviet censorship did not accept because of its innovation, irony and nonconformism, although the film critics are fascinated by the spiritual link of this film with the most vanguard tendencies in the world cinema – The New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague) that flourished in France and resonated also on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in Eastern Europe. In a way, including of the film by Rolands Kalniņš in the classics programme of the world’s most significant film festival shows that the Latvian New Wave is accepted also in the world of cinema. Four White Shirts submitted by the National Film Centre of Latvia has stood a noteworthy selection and competition, standing side by side with masterpieces of the world’s art of cinema.’
The Diamonds of the Night, the debut feature film from the director Jan Němec, is the latest in a string of Czechoslovak classics restored by the Czech National Film Archives to score a slot in the classics lineup of some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals mining the country’s rich film heritage.
The film is a drama set on the knife edge between life and death. Images of the escape of two mentally and physically exhausted men from a train carrying them to their death are interlaced with flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations, which actualise the subjective perception of both protagonists. A free adaptation of Darkness Casts No Shadow by Arnošt Lustig, a Holocaust survivor who closely cooperated in the making of the film, it marked the beginning of the career of Jan Němec, one of the most original Czech filmmakers of the 1960s.
Diamonds of the Night / Demanty Noci (Czechoslovakia) 1964Directed by Jan NemecPresented by the Czech National Film Archive, Prague. The restoration was done by the Universal Production Partners studio in Prague, under the supervision of the National Film Archive, Prague.
Four White Shirts / Certri Balti Krekli (Latvia) 1967Directed by Rolands Kalnins 1967Presented by National Film Centre of Latvia. 4K Scan and 3K Digital Restoration from the original 35mm image internegative and print positive materials mastered in 2K. Restoration financed by the National Film Centre of Latvia, the restoration made by Locomotive Productions (Latvia). Director Rolands Kalnins in attendance.