A witty farce about the French prime minister’s parrot, a witness to the Munich Conference who reveals its secrets decades later, wounded national pride and the perils of filmmaking.
Sir P, a 90-year-old parrot who once belonged to the French prime minister responsible for signing the 1938 Munich Agreement which forced Czechoslovakia to cede much of its borders to Germany, finds himself at a press conference in Prague as a living relic of the time. Repeating the controversial statements of his former owner, Sir P gets kidnapped by Pavel, a disgraced Czech journalist, who uses the bird to revive his own career and failed marriage, causing a diplomatic scandal. Starting as a light-hearted absurdist comedy the film switches to a mockumentary about the filming of the Czech-French co-production which is plagued with problems not least of which is the lack of money, the principal actor’s allergy to the feathered star and a disgruntled crew developing new theories about the 1938 event and provocative generalizations about the Czech national character. Part irreverent history lesson and part movie business satire this is a witty, multi-layered farce by Petr ‘Buttoners’ Zelenka with an engagingly cynical humour which cuts across national borders.
Dir. Petr Zelenka, CZ 2015, 105’, English subtitles
Cast: Martin Mysicka, Jitka Schneiderova, Marek Taclik, Stanislas Pierret, Jana Plodkova
International Premiere at the BFI LFF 2016
Followed by a debate ‘Munich, Tragic Myth or Diplomatic Victory?’ with Vít Smetana, Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, and historian Peter Neville, author of Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt To Prevent the Second World War, and Eduard Benes and Tomas Masaryk. Makers of the Modern World.
Vít Smetana (1973) is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History – Czech Academy of Sciences, and teaches modern international history at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague. His area of expertise includes the history of international relations during the Second World War and the first phase of the Cold War, particularly the international role of Czechoslovakia in this period. He is the author of In the Shadow of Munich. British Policy towards Czechoslovakia from the Endorsement of the Renunciation of the Munich Agreement (1938–1942) (Prague, 2008) and Ani vojna, ani mír: Velmoci, Československo a střední Evropa v sedmi dramatech na prahu druhé světové a studené války (Praha 2016). Together with Mark Kramer, he edited the book entitled Imposing, Maintaining, and Tearing Open the Iron Curtain. The Cold War and East-Central Europe, 1945–1989 (Lanham – New York – Plymouth, 2014).
Dr Peter Neville has taught Modern British and European History at Queen Mary University, and the University of East Anglia. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Peter Neville is also the author of Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt To Prevent the Second World War(Continuum 2006 Czech translation Vikend 2008),and Eduard Benes and Tomas Masaryk. Makers of the Modern World (Haus 2010).