Czech Please! Animated Wonders from the former Czechoslovakia - Thur. May 9th - 8PM

Oddball Films Presents Czech Please! an evening of mind-blowing animation from the former Czechoslovakia.  From cut-outs to puppets to stop-motion; from the adorable to the dark and thought-provoking, this evening will open your eyes to the brilliance, vision and creativity of some of the great Czech animators.  Films include Jiri Trnka's exquisite parable of totalitarianism, The Hand (1965).  The two-cutest bird friends you may ever see dance to the radio, take pictures of themselves and fight off a hungry cat in the insanely adorable Queer Birds (1967). Recurring cartoon hero The Mole paints his friends in psychedelic colors in The Mole as Painter (1972).  Zip off into the future in space in the trippy, zippy Kosmodrome 1999 (1969).  Clever cutout animation The Sword (1967) gives a unique take on mortality.  The rare and delightful Ferda the Ant(1941), a puppet-animation sporting the first wire-framed creatures on film.  A young girl's ears grow and she flies away to start a band with jungle animals in Cecily (1970's).  A jungle breaks out in the classroom when two kids steal a magician's top hat in Nature in a Top Hat (1960s).  A clown gets upstaged by a fish in The Clowns (1968).  Bulbous-nosed inventor Mr. Koumal (1968) deals with a series of amusing calamities following inventing fire, robots and wings. Plus more for the early birds!

Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2013 at 8:00PM.
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco

Admission: $10.00 RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or


The Hand (Color, 1965)
This is Jiri Trnka’s last, and many say his best work. “The Hand” is an allegorical take on the Stalinist Czech dictatorial regime. Trnka directed some of the most acclaimed animated films ever made. In 1966, four years before his death, Newsday lauded him as "second to Chaplin as a film artist because his work inaugurated a new stage in a medium long dominated by Disney." Trnka, was a 1936 graduate of Prague's School of Arts and Crafts. In 1945 he set up an animation unit with several collaborators at the Prague film studio; they called the unit "Trick Brothers." Trnka specialized in puppet animation, a traditional Czech art form, of which he became the undisputed master. He also created animated cartoons, but it was his puppet animation that made him an internationally recognized artist and the winner of film festival awards at Venice and elsewhere. His films are brilliant, bizarre and meticulously rendered.

Kosmodrome 1999 (Color, 1969, by Frantisek Vystreil)
The year is 1999. Interstellar travel is so commonplace; hordes of commuters shuttle about on rockets as casually as they commute from SF to LA today. Our hero misses his flight, however and his zany adventures with the Rube Goldberg-like rocket he tries to enlist results in bizarre and weirdly animated adventures. Brilliant animation and zany, electronic sounds! Produced by the famed Kratky Film Company in Prague.

The Mole As Painter (Color, 1972) 
Famous Czech animator Zdeněk Miler made a series of cartoons with a mole as main character. Here the mole is accidentally dropped into a bucket of paint, then proceeds to paint his woodland friends in crazy, psychedelic colors to scare off a marauding fox.

Mr. Koumal (1968)
Part of a series of Czech animations featuring the bulbous-nosed Mr. Koumal. Three separate short cartoons illustrating a variety of human accomplishments in parable form.

1) Mr Koumal Carries the Torch: First, Mr Koumal invents fire (”carries the torch”). He tries to protect his torch from a variety of natural and human hazards. Comedy ensues.  Mr. Koumal valiantly attempts to carry the torch to the finish line against many obstacles. The torch is snatched from his grasp at the last minute and another man claims the victory.

2) Mr Koumal Invents a Robot. Mr Koumal has a hard time polishing his shoes, so invents a machine to do it, then a robot that will do it instead. He ends up polishing the robot’s shoes instead.

3) Mr Koumal Flies Like a Bird. While climbing a mountain, Mr Koumal sees an eagle flying even higher and tries to fly off the mountain. He steals the eagle’s feathers as well as feathers from a thousand chickens, but he still can’t fly. He ends up selling the feathers as indian headdresses.

The Sword (Color, 1967)
This clever cutout animation is short and er… to the point, The Sword is allegory on the ignorance of people who enjoy their life to those who are suffering or dying at the very same instant.

Ferda The Ant (B+W, 1941)
Based on the popular children's book, this darling stop-motion short features the titular protagonist facing off against a vicious arachnid while attempting to finish a hard day of work.  When Ferda and his friend are caught in the spider's web, they must free themselves or be lunch.  Made by one of the founding mothers of Czech animation, Hermína Týrlová, this innovative and beautiful film features the first use of wire-frame puppets in stop-motion animation.

Queer Birds (B+W, 1967)
From KRÁTKÝ FILM PRAHA a.s., the Czech company that produced animated, cartoon and puppet films from directors like Jiří Trnka, Jan Švankmajer, Karel Zeman comes Queer Birds, a bizarre cold war tale of a black cat and two terrorized birds. The film features a brilliant and innovative pre electronic music score. One of the top animated films in the Oddball archives!

Cecily (Color, 1970’s)
In this surprising Czech animation, the eponymous Cecily is a little girl with big dreams of becoming a singer.  Her grumpy grandmother, however, is less than encouraging, tugging on Cecily’s ears whenever displeased with her behavior.  Such incessant ear-pulling eventually stretches the little girl’s ears to the size of sails, and little Cecily takes to the sky, Dumbo-like, to realize her dreams elsewhere.  She lands in the jungle, adopted by an assortment of animals, and starts a band.

The Clowns (1968)
A clown using a fish as a comedy prop gets the joke played on him as the fish becomes the star attraction in this charming 60's cartoon.

Nature in a Top Hat (Color, 1960s)
This adorable Czech animation features a show and tell gone awry when two youngsters steal a magician's top hat and produce from it not just a bunny, but an entire jungle.  Story by Milos Macourek, music by Jiri Bazans and Jiri Malasek, art by Jan Brychsa, written and directed by Boxena Moxisova