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The Firemen’s Ball

Horí, má panenko
Directed by: Miloš Forman
Czechoslovakia/IT 196773' cs

One snowy February a small-town annual volunteer firemen’s ball is announced—with music, dancing, a raffle, a beauty pageant, and a special award. Everything is going well until it doesn’t, and to top it off, the nearby house of an old man catches fire…

A playful comedy that unfolds into a tragic farce. There is no shortage of people with dim wits, sticky fingers, and little shame. The script was based on the madness experienced at a real firemen’s ball. Miloš Forman himself said in a 1970 interview: ‘This is a problem for all governments, for all committees. That they try and they pretend and they announce that they are preparing a happy, gay, amusing evening or life for the people. And everybody has the best intentions… But suddenly things turn out in such a catastrophic way that, for me, this is a vision of what’s going on today in the world.’ This film can be interpreted in various ways, including as political commentary, and in 1973 the communist regime ‘banned it forever’.

Foreword by the programme curator: A cinematic masterpiece with a philosophical view of society approaching the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Erasmus.