1967 / Czechoslovakia, Italy / ComedyDigitally restored
The first film that was digitally restored using the funds of the foundation was a comedy, Firemen’s Ball, directed by Miloš Forman. The movie has its place among the best films in Czech cinema. It was Forman’s third feature film and his last before emigrating from Czechoslovakia. During the preparation of the film, Miloš Forman collaborated with Jaroslav Papoušek and Ivan Passer, Miroslav Ondříček stood behind the camera, and the film was edited by another of Forman’s frequent collaborators Miroslav Hájek.
Firemen's Ball is a kind of a survey of the Czech petty bourgeoisie. Creators focused on exposing the negative aspects of human nature through dark humor. The story is set in Vrchlabí in the background of a Firemen’s Ball, which is full of grotesque gags and silliness. The comedy gradually becomes a tragic farce, in which detail, gesture and dialogue play a key role. .
The film sparked a series of challenging reactions at home and also abroad. When it received an Oscar nomination in 1969 for best foreign film, it became a forbidden title in our land.
Interesting facts from filming
The film was made in co-production with Barrandov Studios and Italian Sostar Film of the famous producer, Carlo Ponti. The budget of $80,000 was by Czech standards a very high sum and allowed filming in color, which was a great new experience for Forman. When it came to an end, Ponti declined to take the finished film with the argument that it was shorter than agreed. So when Sostar Film resigned from the original contract, a distribution company called Renn Productions owned by a French producer Claude Berriho took over in 1967. Thanks to it the film was distributed worldwide with great success.
The date December 15, 1967 is seen as the premiere of Firemen's Ball, however in a wide distribution it apparently appeared a week later. The film was projected together with a short Czechoslovak document Cirkus Kludský by Drahoslav Holub. The Prague premiere was held on Friday, 22nd December, but did not appear in Yalta and Metro cinemas until 18th January 1968. In March 1968, it was taken down for a short period of time after several complains from the Czechoslovak Union of fire protection were made. Copies of the film were accompanied by a caption explaining that the image was not directed against the firefighters, and the film was screened again until the early 70s.
The digital restoration
The digitally restored version of Firemen's Ball was inaugurated on June 30th 2012 as part of the Karlovy Vary film festival. A short film preceded the premiere by a team of the director Vojtech Moravec called "It burned my lady," which documented the process of filming Firemen’s Ball. It reveals how the producers visited Vrchlabí, the village in which the movie was shot and also the United States, where they managed to interview the cinematographer Milos Forman, Miroslav Ondříčka, the production manager Jaroslav Salt and many others.
Restoration expenses, roughly $50.000, were met thanks to the Foundation Czech Flails in cooperation with the National Film Archives, the post-production studio UPP and the studio Soundsquare. The project was overseen by a group of experts who regularly consulted results with the cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček.
Alongside the restoration, extensive historical research was conducted on the production and marketing of the original image when the film was first distributed.
- Directed by
- Miloš Forman
- Miloš Forman, Jaroslav Papoušek, Ivan Passer
- Jan Vostrčil (Head of Committee), Josef Šebánek, Ladislav Adam, Wroclaw, Cermak, František Debelka, Václav Novotný, František Paska, Frantisek Reinstein, Joseph Řehořek, Josef Valnoha, J. Řeháček (members ballroom Committee), Josef Kolb (Josef, guard raffle), Milada Ježková (Joseph's wife), František World (grandfather Havelka), Jan Stöckl (veteran fireman), Antonín Blažejovský (Standa), Josef Kutálek (Ludva Metelka), Stanislav Holubec (Karel), Alena Květová (Beauty, Metelkova daughter), Olga Blechová, Ivana Freiburgová, Marie Slívová, V. Bartošová, V. Janusová, E. Šnajdrová (candidates for the title of Queen of Beauty), Hana Kuberová (Drunken beauty) CDV Green (beauty), Jiří Líbal (Saviour) Anna Liepoldová (Marie), Miloslav Balcar (male villagers poster), Marie Kovářová, Jarmila Kuchařová (wife) Vlastimila Vlková (Woman with a chair), Hana Hanusová (Jarka), Stanislav Ditrich (waiter), F. Řehořková (mother) M. Mejsnarová (waitress)
- Miroslav Ondříček
- Karel Mareš