If you’ve seen the films in our Eclipse set Pearls of the Czech New Wave, you surely will not have forgotten the lively and profoundly disturbing A Report on the Party and Guests. This was one of the most outwardly political—and therefore controversial—films of the entire Czechoslovak New Wave, and a defining work of that movement’s enfant terrible, Jan Němec, the subject of a career retrospective that is about to begin making its way around the United States. Independent of Reality: The Films of Jan Němec, organized by Irena Kovarova and produced by Comeback Company in partnership with the National Film Archive, Prague, and Aerofilms, will unfurl first at Brooklyn’s BAMCinématek, from November 8–14. The series—comprising seven features, including Němec’s first, Diamonds of the Night, which will run for the entire week; the compilation Pearls of the Deep, to which he contributed a short; and a documentary about his career—promises to be fantastic.
For a taste of the darkly surreal, comically political angles of Němec’s work, check out the following clip from A Report on the Party and Guests (which plays at BAM on November 9), in which weekend picnickers are hijacked by a pack of vaguely defined authority figures. It demonstrates how quickly reality as we know it can be upended, and how distressingly fast we cede control to power.