Two boys flee from a train taking them to a concentration camp. This visionary film by the pioneer and enfant terrible of the Czechoslovak New Wave still looks contemporary half a century after it was made.
Jan Němec's debut feature is based on the autobiographical short story Darkness Casts No Shadow by acclaimed Czech writer Arnošt Lustig and follows two Jewish boys on the run from a train taking them to a concentration camp. Hiding from the Nazis, they run wherever the road takes them, roam the forest, shudder at any noise, lose their breath, but never stop. Tired and starving, they see fragmented and confused but hopeful dreams. Gradually, these dreams merge with reality, and the present extends into the past and the future.
This bold debut by the star of the Czechoslovak New Wave anticipated the main discoveries of contemporary cinema: documentary-style imagery shot on a handheld camera, elliptical montage, corporeality, and non-linear narrative that does not follow the rules of psychological development. Garage Screen presents a restored version of the film that has recently premiered at Cannes in the Cannes Classics section.
The screening is preceded by a short film by Jan Nemec A Loaf of Bread (1960, 12 min.)
Diamonds of the Night
Director Jan Němec.
Czechoslovakia, 1964, 63 minutes.