Czech Please! - Animated Wonders from the former Czechoslovakia - Thur. April 7th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Czech Please! an evening of mind-blowing animation from the former Czechoslovakia. From stop-motion puppets to cell-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 great Czech animators. Films include Jiří Trnka's exquisite parable of totalitarianism and named one of the top five animated films of all-time: The Hand (1965). Jiří Brdečka's Blessings of Love (1966) is a sublime tale of love and longing. Get a triple dose of Zdeněk Miler's beloved Little Mole in three new colorful acquisitions. In The Mole and the Music (1974), mousy and mole gather music from the birds to melt into a psychedelic record. The mole has the need for speed and soups up a toy convertible in The Mole and the Car (1963).  The mole finds a lollipop and can't figure out what to do with it in The Mole and the Lollipop (1970). In a huge departure from his mole cartoons, Zdeněk Miler also made the bleak allegory The Red Stain (1967) featuring a fisherman and his son trying to fight off an oncoming army. Head into the land of the kitties in the sweet fairy tale The Tom Cat's Meow (1974) 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 darkly charming Queer Birds (1965). Set off for space in Kosmodrome 1999 (1969). 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! All shorts screened on 16mm film from the archive.

Date: Thursday, April 7th, 2016 at 8:00PM.
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco

Admission: $10.00, limited seating RSVP to: 415-558-8117 or


The Hand (Color, 1965, 
Jiří Trnka) 
This is Jiří 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.

Three Little Mole Cartoons!

Zdeněk Miler's little mole Krtek is an internationally beloved character that spanned six decades of animation (1956-2002).  The mole's gibberish language voiced by a human toddler led to its ease of distribution across the globe.  His delightful antics are accompanied by vibrant, often psychedelic imagery, making them a treat for children and adults alike. These beautiful prints are from a new donation to the collection and have never been screened at Oddball before.

The Mole and the Music (Color, 1974)

The little mole's mousy friend breaks his record, so the pair set off to gather musical notes from the birds in the forest.  Then they cook down the music and make their own psychedelic record.

The Mole and the Car (Color, 1963)

The little mole wakes up underground beneath a busy street.  When he emerges from his tunnel, he sees all the bright shiny and speedy cars and dreams of having one for his very own.  After a nasty little boy destroys his toy car and leaves it in the street, our rodent hero fixes her up and speeds off in his very own set of wheels.

The Mole and the Lollipop (Color, 1970)
After two filthy children leave their candy wrappers strewn around a park, the little mole (on self-appointed trash duty) comes across a colorful lollipop.  Unsure of what the colorful object on a stick even is, the mole walks around trying to use it as a stop sign, a tennis racket, a shovel, and a flower before the rain releases its sticky sweet deliciousness for the mole and his pesky bee friends to enjoy.

Red Stain (Color ,1963, 
Zdeněk Miler)
A much darker vision from the man that brought us the joyful and colorful Little Mole cartoons. A somber tale of fisherman and his small son who try to retain peace after they discover that their country has been invaded and that an armory has been established near their house. The blood of the peaceful protestors becomes a swath of red flowers that grow all around the armory and force it to shut down. Miler made the film to break free from his little mole rut and try something different; a moving and thoughtful piece drawn simply with charcoal on paper.

Blessings of Love (B+W, 1966, Jiří Brdečka)
A sublime and sentimental piece about the thralls of young love that ripple across a lifetime. We watch a lifetime of longing from one man from childhood to old age. As a child, he sees the metropolitan men in the cafe -smoking their pipes -  and longs to be one of them. As he grows and takes up a pipe himself - joining the cafe crowd - he sees a beautiful young woman and he begins to long for her. As they grow older together, he yearns for the beauty of her youth, but as she passes, he grasps for any trace of her, young or old.

The Tom Cat's Meow (Color, 1974, Bozena Mozísová)

A delightful fairy tale set in the kingdom of the kitties!  A downtrodden girl is the chambermaid and the whipping girl for her cruel mother and sister (much in the vein of Cinderella).  Her only friend is a little tabby cat that beckons the girl to follow him to an underground land of anthropomorphic cats in clothes doing all kinds of chores terribly. The girl helps out the frustrated kitties one by one and then joins them for a feast with the kitty dignitaries, including her friendly tabby who is himself the king of the kitties. For her help, King Kitty offers the girl her choice of riches.  When she returns home, her greedy mother sends out her sister in search of more gold and jewels. But the sister is a big jerk and instead of helping the kitties, she plays all kinds of cruel pranks on the cats and goes home with a disfiguring surprise instead of riches while our sweet heroine and her best feline friend live happily ever after.
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.

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

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.

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.

Queer Birds (B+W, 1965, 
Vladimir Lehky
A bizarre cold war tale of a black cat and two terrorized birds. The two bird friends are out for a leisurely stroll, playing music together and taking selfies until a hungry cat attempts to spoil their fun.  After several unique and imaginative evasive maneuvers, the birds pelt the cat with apple bombs. The film features a brilliant and innovative pre electronic music score. One of the top animated films in the Oddball archives!

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. She has programmed over 200 shows at Oddball on everything from puberty primers to experimental animation. 

About Oddball Films
 Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.

Our screenings 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.