Czech Please! - Stop-Motion Marvels from the Czech Masters - Thur. Aug 21 - 8PM

Oddball Films and curator Kat Shuchter present Czech Please! an evening of mind-blowing stop-motion animation from the former Czechoslovakia.  With puppet and object animation; 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 greatest Czech animators including Jan Švankmajer, Jiri Trnka, Bretislav Pojar, Borivoj and Karel Zeman, Hermína Týrlová and Zdenek Miler. Jan Švankmajer, one of the most brilliant and creative filmmakers of our time, creates a dark and witty Freudian fantasy of cannibal dolls, dancing clothes, and curious cats in the loose Lewis Carroll adaptation Jabberwocky (1971).  Jiri Trnka, the founding father of Kratky Film Praha — the animation company responsible for most of the work tonight — was the visionary behind some of the greatest puppet animation the world over and we've dug up a triple dose of his brand of cheeky imagination.  Song of the Prairie (1949, directed by Trnka and animated by Bretislav Pojar) is a delightful send-up on American Westerns; Passion (1962) follows a young boy and his need for speed into his self-destructive future; and The Devil's Mill (1949) features a mischievous poltergeist playing tricks on an old soldier.  Hermína Týrlová, the mother of Czech animation and the first animator (ever) to use wire-framed puppets, brings us the tale of an outdated steam train that wants to see the world in The Little Train (1959) and a little ant that must defeat a hungry spider in Ferda the Ant (1941).  Borivoj and Karel Zeman bring to life a little girl's creepy basket of toys in the delightful A Christmas Dream (1954). A Glittering Song (1965) turns trash into treasure by animating a sparkling world entirely out of broken glass. And in Duet (1960s) two neighbors play music together in harmony, until one gets a radio and the friendship devolves into a vicious battle for the latest electronics.  Early birds will be treated to a triple helping of Zdenek Miler's classic cell-animation The Little Mole

Date: Thursday, August 21st, 2014 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Jabberwocky (Color, 1971, Jan Švankmajer
Legendary Czech animator Jan Švankmajer's stop-motion films combine creepiness and wit in a way no one has ever accomplished.  His penchant for object-animation has led to living dolls, dancing meat and baby tree-demons.  In Jabberwocky, Svankmajer's first adaptation of Lewis Carroll's world, described by the director as "a Freudian record of the development of a child through all its stages: through homosexuality and Sado-Masochism to rebellion against the father". Print generously on loan from the archive of Smokehouse Films.

Three New Puppet Finds from Jiri Trnka!!
Jiri Trnka, known as the "Walt Di$ney of Eastern Europe" founded the innovative animation house Kratky Film Praha that produced some of the greatest animated shorts in history.  His own puppet films are stunning, clever and charming, but tethered by a dark undercurrent of oppression and resistance.

Song of the Prairie (B+W, 1949)
Trnka's puppets parody the American Western in this witty musical marvel.  A stagecoach makes its way through the desert in the Old West with both a lovely young lady and a dastardly villain in tow.  When our villain attempts to steal the young lady's heart along with the assets of the stagecoach, will a hero ride in on a white horse to save them all or will he be too busy singing?

Passion (Color, 1961)
A boy grows up with a need for speed.  Like a dare-devil, he speeds his bicycle past the girls, eventually graduating to hot rods and motorcycles; all the while getting into more and more dangerous situations.  Hip and stylish, this beautiful puppet animation is both a charmer and a stunner!

The Devil's Mill (Color, 1949)
An old soldier sets out to defeat the evil forces that dwell inside an old mill.  When he spends the night in the haunted place, the demons inside do their best to foist him out, but the veteran stands tall and stands up to the mischievous evil.

A Christmas Dream (B+W, 1954, Borivoj Zeman and Karel Zeman)
A little girl goes to sleep on Christmas Eve and her toys come to life.  Cool/creepy stop motion animation of her favorite rag doll gives this more of Christmas Nightmare effect.
Directed and created by a team of two Czech Brothers, Borivoj Zeman and Karel Zeman. Karel Zeman became the director of feature-length movies including "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne" and "Baron Munchausen” while his brother directed titles such as "The Phantom of Morrisville" and "The Young Lady from the Riverside"

Two from Hermína Týrlová

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.

Little Train (Color, 1959)
The grandmother of stop-motion animation Hermína Týrlová, who was the first animator to work with wired puppets, brings us this peppy tale of an old steam train that wants to get out and see the world.

Glittering Song (Color, 1965, Vaclav Bedrich)
A beautifully whimsical object animation that brings to life discarded shards of broken glass, transforming the dangerous trash into a sparkling magical world of a little boy and his colorful imagination.

Duet (Color, 1960s)
Two neighbors are the best of friends spending their days planting flowers and making music together.  That is, until one man gets a radio and the two would rather outdo each other's fancy electronics than make beautiful music.  A bittersweet puppet film from the former Czechoslovakia.

For the Early Birds: A Triple Helping of Zdenek Miler's The Little Mole!

The Mole and the Green Star (1970, Color)
The Mole digs up a glittering gem while Spring cleaning and mistakes it for a star! Determined to return it to its rightful place in the heavens he enlists the aid of his woodland neighbors. But don’t ever trust a magpie with your treasures! Czechoslovakian animation master Zdenek Miler made his delightful Mole cartoons for over twenty years, and they are as enchanting as ever. Features the best ass-kicking by animated robins you’re ever likely to see.

The Mole and The Rocket (Color, 1965)

The little mole is carried by a rocket to a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. Things look grim until all the adorable sea creatures pitch in to help repair the ruined rocket and go off in it with the mole. Soundtrack by the Czech Symphony Orchestra. 

The Mole and the Camera (Color, 1974
The little mole is enchanted with his mouse friend's new polaroid camera and can't wait to take pictures of everything, but after he trades mousy a wind-up cat toy for the camera, he can't quite figure out how to keep the darn thing together.  A (ridiculously cute) frog wedding is dying to get their picture taken, but after a number of blunders, the little mole decides to just draw them instead.  Soon every adorable animal family wants a "photograph" from the little mole.

Curator’s Biography

Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric film hoarder.  She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009.

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.