Short films by Jan Svanmajer, program two | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Short films by Jan Svanmajer, program two

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This week Facets Multimedia Center presents a retrospective of shorts and features by Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer, whose work has profoundly influenced both pop culture and the avant-garde in Europe. This macabre program of seven shorts, made between 1979 and 1993, shows him at the height of his creative powers, using aggressive, intricate editing to combine drawings, graphics, cutouts, clay figures, puppetry, and live action. In the gripping Down to the Cellar (1982) a girl's trip to fetch some potatoes is fraught with menace as adults try to lure her away with bizarre objects. The Pit, the Pendulum, and Hope (1983), a vivid homage to Poe, takes the perspective of a prisoner escaping from a medieval dungeon who encounters an array of torture devices. In Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) clay figures kiss, make love, and dissolve into a primordial mass, whereas the clay body parts in Darkness/Light/Darkness (1989) emerge one by one from thin air and after much experimentation finally coalesce into a human body. The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (1990) offers a gruesome history of Czechoslovakia under communist rule, Manly Games (1988) presents soccer as a blood sport, and Food (1993) carries the logic and repetition of eating to a grotesque extreme. The program totals 93 minutes; all films will be shown in Czech without subtitles. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Sunday, June 10, 3:00 and 6:30, and Tuesday, June 12, 8:45, 773-281-4114.

--Ted Shen

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