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Shorts Program 2: Tales and Collaborations

Film Society of Lincoln Center

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Silly circuses, classic fairy tales, and toy trains come to life through magical stop-motion, puppet, and hand-drawn animation in these charming, family-friendly shorts that showcase Trnka’s fruitful collaborations with fellow artists, animators, and puppeteers.

Merry Circus / Vesely cirkus Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 35mm, 12m No dialogue Trnka brings to life a surrealist circus of tightrope-walking fish, musical monkeys, balancing bears, and high-flying acrobatics in this whimsical feat of cutout animation made in collaboration with leading Czech painters of the era.

The Gingerbread House / Pernikova chaloupka Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 35mm, 18m No dialogue The Czech version of Hansel and Gretel receives a captivating, puppet-animated adaptation, featuring striking—and fittingly macabre—storybook imagery designed by Trnka and direction by his close colleague and animation heir, Bretislav Pojar.

How the Old Man Traded It All Away / Jak starecek menil, az vymenil Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1953, 9m Czech with English subtitles Folk art–like hand-drawn stills illustrate this sweetly simple pastoral fable, in which a peasant comes into possession of a small fortune—but realizes there are treasures greater than gold.

Kutasek and Kutilka / Kutasek a Kutilka jak rano vstavali Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1954, 18m Czech with English subtitles How do you wake up a sleeping puppet? Made by Trnka in collaboration with actor and puppeteer Josef Pehr, this winsome mix of live action and puppet play is enchanting entertainment for the youngest of viewers.

The Midnight Adventure / Pulnocni prihoda Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1960, 13m No dialogue An old woodblock train meets its shiny new electric replacement one Christmas Eve in this glowingly nostalgic stop-motion toy story, directed by Bretislav Pojar and featuring gorgeous design by Trnka.

Circus Hurvinek / Cirkus Hurvinek Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1955, 23m Czech with English subtitles Trnka pays homage to two of Czechoslovakia’s most beloved characters—Spejbl and the mischievous Hurvinek, a father and son duo created by Trnka’s puppeteer mentor, Josef Skupa—in this imaginative tale of a young boy who dreams of being part of the circus.

Introduction by Irena Kovarova on April 21

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