Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Pupendo 2003

Directed by Jan Hřebejk

Czech Republic In Czech, English and German with English subtitles
122 minutes 35mm



Petr Jarchovsky. Based on the stories by Petr Sabach


Jan Malír


Vladimír Barák


Oskar Petr


Boleslav Polívka
Jaroslav Dusek
Eva Holubová
Vilma Cibulková


Toronto, Vancouver, Karlovy Vary 2003


Director Jan Hrebejk (Cosy Dens, Divided We Fall) continues his shrewd dramatisation of personal conscience vs political expediency in his most recent slice of Czech social history, a dark comedy of collaboration and its variations, set in 1984. Bedrich Mára, a prominent sculptor, has been banned from exhibition for his refusal to toe the communist party line. He continues to lead the Bohemian life, often drunk, riotously contemptuous of society at large. His ceramicist wife, who sustains home and family by producing kitsch for tourists, is not immune to his bitter wit. An ambitious former student and her school principal husband, both party supporters for entirely pragmatic reasons, become involved in a scheme to rehabilitate the artist with a state commission. The children of both houses stand nervously by. Always compassionate, Hrebejk is devilishly well-attuned to the way people are belittled by the authority they wield. Though Pupendo’s period detail is densely specific, its observation of the principal’s envious admiration of the unruly sculptor speaks volumes about the barbed nature of official patronage of the arts anywhere. The music and artworks Hrebejk uses in the film are by artists suppressed at the time. — BG

“A wry comedy in which the divergent paths taken by a respected sculptor and his powerful former student and lover re-connect in Communist-ruled Eastern Europe in the 1980s – and both their lives are nearly ruined as a result… [writer] Jarchovsky eschews sentimentality, in a celebration of the grace and tattered dignity of the outcast.” — Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly