Comparing making a film about exile to a highly painful but necessary visit to the dentist, Bokova, herself an émigrée, sets out to explore various aspects of emigration, its effect on people’s lives and the impossibility of stepping into the same river twice. As one of her protagonist says: “You return to your 30s but everyone around you is 60.“ Moving betwen the streets of Prague, Paris and Buenos Aires and talking to a fascinating variety of émigrés such as philosopher Vaclav Belohradsky who left because of the 1968 Soviet Invasion; singer songwriter Vlasta Tresnak, endlessly interrogated and tortured by the state secret police, who had to choose between prison and emigration; poet and translator Petr Kral reflecting upon the mechanism of totalitarian power, Bokova builds a captivating documentary essay about home, the world and staying in those fictious spaces. And about friends.
Czech Republic/Argentina 2008, 114’, English subtitles
It becomes clearer with each new film, that whether Jana Bokova belongs to Czech, British, French or Argentinian cinematography or the cinematography of fiction or documentary cinematography, is a pointless question. Bye, Bye Shanghai is an essay about home and about the world and about staying in those fictional spaces. And about friends.
Michal Bregant, Director of Czech National Film Archive
Followed by Q&A with Jana Bokova and Henrietta Foster on home & exile
Film director Jana Bokova has been living between London, Paris and Buenos Aires since 1968 making films in four countries and four languages – English, French, Spanish and Czech. Czech-born Bokova left her home country in 1968 at the time of the Soviet invasion and continued her studies in Paris, where she gained a doctorate in Fine Arts, specialising in photography and the Surrealists. She then worked in the USA, contributing to Rolling Stone magazine as a photographer, and subsequently became a film student at the National Film School in England debuting as a film director in 1975 with the critically acclaimed Militia Battlefield. She made films regularly for the BBC arts series Omnibus and Arena, winning many international awards. Amongst her impressive list of more than 20 documentaries are: Just One More War (1977), Marika and Marevna (1977-78), Living Room (1978), I Look Like This (1979), Quinn Running (1980), Dallas: The Big Store (1981), Sunset People (1983), Havana (1989-90), Avignon (1999), Eric Clapton and Friends (2002), Tango Salon (2004) and Bye Bye Shanghai (2008). Bokova made the feature films Hôtel du Paradis (France, 1986), screened at the Cannes International Film Festival and Diary for a Tale (Diario para un cuento, Argentina 1998). The National Film Theatre in London ran a season of her early documentaries in (1979), which was followed by a full retrospective of her work at the Cinémathèque Française, Paris (2002), National Film Archives, Prague (2012) and Buenos Aires Museum de Cinema (2018). In 2012, while living in exile, Jana Bokova received a Czech award for cultural achievement.
Henrietta Foster is a television director and writer. She grew up admiring Jana Bokova’s completely original documentaries which were regularly shown on the BBC throughout her youth. She met Jana in 1984 and worked on her first feature film Hotel du Paradis in Paris.They have remained friends ever since. Henrietta’s latest film is Beyond The Grace Note and it will be shown on Sky Arts in March 2020. It is executive produced by Leslie Megahey and Maureen Murray.
Admission: £7 + booking fee
Part of In Focus: Jana Bokova
Doors open at 18.30. Unreserved seating.
The cinema is accessible through the reception of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in London, 26 Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8 4QY. Please note the entrance is on Bayswater Road.
Please note that the venue is not accesible to wheelchair users!