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ROUNDTABLE PREVIEW: ‘Children of the Revolution – British Writers of Hungarian Origin’ (20 October 2016)

Thursday 20 October 2016, 6.30pm Monnet Room, Europe House 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION Children of the Revolution  – British writers of Hungarian origin Monica Porter, Tibor Fischer and Nick Barlay Historian: Dorottya Baczoni Moderator: Robin Ashenden To mark the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the Hungarian Cultural Centre organizes…

Robin Ashenden | 14/10/2016
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Opening: Belarus Free Theatre’s ‘Burning Doors’ with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina

‘What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?  Our brand new production, Burning Doors, blends sensuous theatricality and vigorous…

Robin Ashenden | 28/08/2016
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Superstar Pope of the Cold War Era: John Paul II Remembered

Kraków,  the Polish city in which Pope John Paul II – then Karol Wojtyła – was once cardinal, has at a rough estimate more than two hundred churches, and they are of every variety: Gothic churches, Baroque churches, Romanesque churches; Bernardine churches, churches Franciscan, Jesuit, Capucine and Carmelite. There are churches which stand out proudly…

Robin Ashenden | 11/07/2016
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In Praise of Polish London

“Dear Poles, I am so sorry to hear about what happened yesterday. We the Brits are grateful to you for fighting alongside us in the war and now for the enormous contribution you make to our society. We love you.” Thus read one of the messages the Polish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith received last week…

Robin Ashenden | 05/07/2016
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Dmytro Dobrovolsky: 20th Anniversary Exhibition – ‘a small delight’

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An unsung London pleasure – steadily becoming an annual event – is an exhibition from the Ukrainian artist Dmytro Dobrovolsky. In accessible paintings which celebrate the minutiae of landscapes, Dobrovolsky – a distinctive presence at his shows with his mop-top hair, stripy t-shirts and laconic manner – gives us landscapes from Estonia, quaysides from Lerici…

Robin Ashenden | 05/07/2016
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OPEN CITY DOCS REVIEW: ‘Depth Two’ (2016): Ognjen Glavonić’s coolly devastating account of submerged Balkan atrocities

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There’s no shortage of documentaries about Balkan atrocities – it’s virtually a sub-genre on Youtube – but few have been as affectingly or coolly told as Ognjen Glavonić’s Depth Two, which deals with events during the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999, when – soon after – a truck containing 53 unidentified dead bodies was…

Robin Ashenden | 21/06/2016
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PREVIEW: Balkan Day II: A Rich Heritage of Stories, at British Library 24/6

Balkan Day II: A Rich Heritage of Stories Fri 24 Jun 2016, 10:00 – 18:00   This event will bring together some of the leading contemporary academics, writers and translators to talk about writing and creating in this fertile cultural space Following on from the hugely successful Balkan Day event in June 2014, join for another day of…

Robin Ashenden | 15/06/2016
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OPEN CITY DOCS REVIEW: ‘Mallory’ (Trestíková’, 2015): ‘Outdoes Ken Loach in its unblinking exposure of how society treats its most helpless’

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There are moments in Mallory, Helena Trestíková’s harrowing 2015 documentary – made over 13 years – about an unmarried Czech mother on the skids, where you feel you can’t watch much more. Ex-heroin-addict Mallory’s downward spiral is so merciless, and the authorities’ indifference so callous, that it makes bleak viewing indeed. Starting almost optimistically in 2002, as…

Robin Ashenden | 14/06/2016
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REVIEW: Drahomíra Vihanová’s Documentaries: exquisite portraits of loneliness and loss

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Mention the Czech New Wave to a moderate cinephile, and they may think of the generous-hearted, knockabout works of Miloš Forman, or the sly subversiveness of Jiří Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains. One director they almost certainly won’t mention is Drahomíra Vihanová, contemporary to them both but whose works were banned for 20 years. Hitherto deprived…

Robin Ashenden | 07/06/2016