SYRFILM launches ‘Skrítek’ on DVD, new monthly program at Eastwood Palace

Nancy Keefe Rhodes 01/23/10More articles
Syracuse native Mary Angiollilo (L) has a part in the film “Skrítek”

Syracuse International Film Festival fans likely recall Czech filmmaker Tomáš Vorel’s madcap tale of teen-age graffiti artists tangling with police and teachers, “Gympl,” which screened last spring and took festival honors.

In 2007, Vorel’s adult comedy “Skrítek/Dwarves” – like “Gympl,” featuring Vorel’s son Tomáš, Jr. – won SYRFILM’s 2007 Best of Fest prize. Popular with Central New York audiences, “Skrítek” screens again on Saturday, January 23, at Eastwood’s Palace Theatre at 7:30 PM. The screening also celebrates the release of “Skrítek” on the festival’s own DVD label, New Classics Films.

“Skrítek” follows the mishaps of a supermarket clerk, her unfaithful butcher husband, their two children – a teen-age son and a younger daughter, both at the mercy of ridiculous teachers – and the tiny trickster of Czech fable, the Skøítek, who takes a liking to the daughter. With its music soundtrack by the band MIG 21, the film’s story unfolds without language or subtitles, but that is not to say it is silent. Instead of words, the characters erupt in bursts of incoherent explosive sounds. Made in the manner of early silent film comedies, the action is speeded up, the acting and situations are stylized and broad, and the instrumental accompaniment provides motifs for each character as well as signaling types of scenes to occur.

Some early filmmakers vehemently opposed adding sound to movies; they believed that “talkies” were incompatible with film as an art form and would destroy cinema. Suppose we were to make a movie, with the technical capacity we now have for shooting and editing, but in the style of Chaplin or Keaton, with no event too outlandish to insert in daily life and a shared appreciation of the absurdity of modern urban life? “Skrítek” is what you might get, proving that style is not so antiquated as one might think, but fresh and comic still.

Northside Syracuse native Mary Angiolillo, who teaches acting in Prague and whose husband Marek Jicha is the film’s cinematographer, has a part in the film too as the supermarket side-kick of the family’s mother.

Saturday also marks the launch of monthly SYRFILM events at the Palace. Last week the festival announced a revamped format for its 2010 edition, moving from late April to October 13 – 17, and expanding its emphasis on year-round activity.

“We’ve put together the film portion of the ‘Recovered Voices’ concert at Syracuse University on January 30,” said SYRFILM managing director Christine Fawcett-Shapiro last week. “We’ll screen ‘An American in Paris’ at the Palace on Valentine’s Day, with a dessert party. On February 26, we host the East Coast premiere of Rob Nilsson’s new film with Stacey Keach, ‘Imbued.’ Then there are two more programs in March, including our 2nd Annual Oscar Party on March 7. So there’s lots to tell!”

SYRFILM joins with the Food Bank of CNY and SyracuseFirst for Saturday’s event. Part of the proceeds benefit the Food Bank and those bringing canned goods to donate receive a coupon toward future SYRFILM tickets.

A shorter version of this article appears in the 1/21/2010 print edition of the Syracuse City Eagle. “Skrítek” screens at the Palace Theatre on James St., Eastwood, on 1/23 at 7:30 PM. Tickets at the door are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Nancy is a member of the national Women Film Critics Circle and the James Agee Cinema Circle, and she writes the film column “Make it Snappy.”

TAGS: Tomáš Vorel, Skrítek, SYRFILM, MIG 21, New Classics Films, new DVD releases the Palace Theatre Eastwood
EDITION: The Eagle

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