Instead, one gets a smarmy pitch for foreign production dollars from Barrandov Studios chief Vaclav Marhoul, who coincidentally supplied virtually all of the film clips for the examples of Czech cinema, and a purposeless anecdote from young Czech director Jan Sverak.
Tech qualities, from occasionally murky sound to generally uninspiring interview footage, diminish the impact of the film treasures shown here and the dated quality of many of the interviews only serve to deepen the docu’s too-ambitious breadth and confused focus.
Most of the younger filmmakers surveyed are queried about the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” and Marhoul is proudly touting the production accomplishments “this year, 1993.” Change is happening too quickly in struggling production centers likethe Czech Republic and the extended time lapse for a docu is fatal. If the following national cinemas of the series, “India” and “Mexico,” suffer from similar sorry fates, this “World” will die with a whimper from international film buffs starving for thoroughness, technical proficiency and/or relevance to the contemporary cultures being surveyed.
World of Film with Rita Gam Czech Republic
(Fri. (4), 11:30 p.m.-midnight, KCET)
Videotaped in the Czech Republic. Series produced by Harry Cahill, Rita Gam. "Czech Republic" produced by Andrew Hurwitz, Gam. Co-producer, ProArt Prods.; directed, written by Hurwitz; camera, Michael Baumbruck, John Moers; editor, Ron L. Humer; sound, Radek Rondevald; technical consultant, Marvin Soloway; creative consultant, Pavel Jech. #Narrator: Rita Gam Jamming the entire history of Czechoslovakian cinema into a half-hour public broadcasting slot isn't an enviable task, but the documentarians behind "World of Film With Rita Gam: Czech Republic" have managed to exacerbate a bad situation with this ill-focused maiden effort in the series of three reports. Euro-cinephiles will weep at the compression of a century's worth of work into 30 minutes and novices will switch to less confusing competition like "Coach" reruns. Never mentioning that Czechoslovakian cinema was vibrant long before the fabled "Czech New Wave" of the '60s, the program kicks off with the watershed films of that storied era, spotlighting laudable films like Jiri Menzel's Oscar-winning "Closely Watched Trains" and Czech emigre Milos Forman's "Fireman's Ball." The informational havoc is compounded by chyron titles that include film credits but no directors or years of production, voiceovers that refer to films like "Loves of a Blonde," but no corresponding footage, stills that make reference to filmmakers not seen and a general profusion of images shown out of sequence and without an anchoring context. One line of narration makes mention of the famed FAMU film school in Prague, but there is no indication that the entire generation of venerated filmmakers toiled there together.