Musical comedy “Rebels” (2001) is the next film to be part of the yearlong film festival, Czech Movie Gems. Set in 1968 Czechoslovakia, during the year of the so-called Prague Spring, which sparked the hopes of the end of the Communist regime, but ended with the Soviet invasion, the film tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Tereza, a student on a break who just came back to town and Šimon, a military deserter seeking freedom beyond the frontiers of then Socialist Czechoslovakia.
Though set on the backdrop of dramatic historical period, Rebels is mainly a feast of music and dance featuring the most popular songs of the 1960s. Not only does the film feature original compositions, but also Czech versions of some of the global hits, such as Petula Clark´s “Down Town“ and Nancy Sinatra´s “Sugar Town.“ It also has a dozen elaborate dance performances made in the 1960s style, each of them being a distinctive video clip. The retro-musical cleverly evokes the nostalgia and the euphoric atmosphere of the time with the first Czech television clips, its period costumes and production design, the astounding choreography and performances.
“Quite similar to the music-loving culture of the ever-enthusiastic Filipinos, rarely anybody knows that Czech Republic is also famous for their musicals. Some of them, such as ‘Hamlet’ or ‘The Three Muskeeters,’ were in recent year, succesfully staged not only in Europe, but also in South Korea, Japan and China. With this in mind, I am sure the festive Filipino audience would truly love Rebels,“ reveals Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, jr.
Moreover, popularity of musical theatre among Czechs goes back to the 19th century, and even the Czech national anthem—”Where Is My Home?“—is originally a piece from a musical comedy first performed in 1834. Not only that, long before MTV started the boom of music videos in the early 1980s, similar short music clips were produced by 1960s Czechoslovak television, with all major hits having its TV version.
The film Rebels is directed by Filip Renč, who made his debut with the psychological drama “Requiem for a Maiden“ (1992), and followed by “War of Colours“ (1995). Rebels is his third feature-length film. Renč has won a series of prestigious domestic awards, including a Czech Lion in 2001 for Best Costume and Sound, and the Silver Bullet at the 7th Moscow IFF Faces of Love. Rebels is selected as one of the featured films at this year‘s 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the oldest A-list film festivals in the world, and the the most prestigious in Central and Eastern Europe.
Zuzana Norisová, then 22 years old, Slovak actress and singer, played the main role in both theatre and film versions. The film soundtrack became the highest selling album ever in the Czech Republic. After watching the film you will see that there is a truth in saying “Every Czech is a musician“.
Catch Rebels on March 14, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Cinematheque Centre Manila. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis and is subject to capacity.