Thursday, November 17, 2005

Kinsey in Czech


Brno and Prague are currently holding their sixth annual Mezipatra gay and lesbian film festival. It is a little hard to tell from the program how many (if any) of the films are actually Czech, but it is clearly an international selection, with offerings from the United States, Britain, France, Spain, and Finland, among others. Everything is shown in the original language, with either Czech subtitles or simultaneous translation.
It does occur to me that the Czechs may be reluctant to include items from their apparently large gay porn industry; perhaps this is because Czech gay-porn actors are busy telling the world that they're actually heterosexual and only in it for the money, but more likely the festival is trying to emphasize films with... ahem... some artistic and narrative content. Then again, maybe it has something to do with the assurances the porn actors get that the films will only be shown outside the Czech Republic, where Grandma and the guys at the pub might not see them (although as I gather they are mostly for internet use, I don't see why Grandma and friends couldn't download them).
Not knowing anything about most of the films beyond whether their content was a) lesbian, b) gay, c) trans, or d) other (whatever that might mean), thus far I have only gotten around to seeing Kinsey, which I had sort of meant to see in the US and (as usual) was too sluggish to get to.

Oddly, the festival categorizes Kinsey as a gay film, although surely it must be one that really falls under the rubric of “other.” However, it is certainly gay-friendly, and I suppose it can’t really be said to have much lesbian or any transgender material. More importantly, it’s a good movie that I can recommend to all except the resolutely puritanical (although I am certain they would benefit the most from seeing it). It is a biographical film that also manages to convey a considerable amount about the research for which Kinsey and his team became famous. Well scripted, sympathetically acted, and with attractive cinematography, it succeeds both as entertainment and education. (And now I know why the Kinsey library/archive is at University of Indiana.) Go see it, or, more to the point this year (it came out in 2004), rent it.
While it played in Světozor’s larger hall, the audience was not all that big. This was probably because it showed at 5:30 and is probably easier to find in video stores than the other films. When we got out, there was a crowd waiting to get into the theater for the next film.
Being the sort of person whose eye immediately goes to the printed word, I found myself reading the Czech subtitles while listening to the English dialogue. While this was good practice and useful, I don’t seem to have learned any new vocabulary (it was too dark to write anything down), although I did notice that a word I did not recognize was employed where I expected to see a form of “mrdat.” The only vocabulary that really stuck in my mind was when I noticed that “horse” was translated as “kráva” rather than “kůň.” At the time, my only thought was that this was a peculiar error to make. Subsequently, however, it occurred to me that the translator was actually doing a good job. In English, the interviewee says he had sex with whores but due to his accent the interviewer mistakes this for a horse. In Czech, it would make sense to substitute “kráva” (cow) because it sounds more like “kurva” (whore).
One of the things I especially liked about the film was the portrayal of Kinsey’s solid and enduring partnership with his wife. If their marriage at all resembled the film depiction, they must have been quite a pair and lucky to have one another.

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