Film Studies and Global Architecture and Design semester activities
It might seem that film and architecture are only remotely connected, however, the same cannot be said about students of CIEE Film Studies program, and students of CIEE Global Architecture and Design. Since the very beginning of the program, students have been invited to attend extra-curricular activities that would help them to understand to the Czech culture.
One group of the organized events have been Cultural Workshops. Through these three workshops, students were able to learn how to observe and interpret a new culture and apply this knowledge to the Czech traditions. Furthermore, they have been learning about Czech historical figures and also how to market their experience abroad.
Students were observing their personal development through the “Czech-in session”, during which they have set their goals and expectations, reviewed them and in the end of the semester evaluated their growth for themselves.
Fun activities included visiting a home hockey game of Sparta, ice-skating, screening of the Czech movies, laser-tagging or events organized by flat buddies. Those have been for example visits of Czech museums, cooking lessons or escape games.
Extra-curricular activities organized for these two programs are inseparable part of the stay of students. The aim is to help to students to immerse in the Czech culture and feel like home.
In order to get away from a daily rush in Prague, students of CIEE Film Studies have left Prague in October for one weekend. They spent the whole weekend in South Bohemia, visiting historic town Pisek and castle Zvikov.
The main reason for going to Pisek was International Student Film Festival which is happening each year and attracts attention of not only student from the Czech Republic but the whole world. CIEE students had a chance to attend several blocks of festival films and also meet students from a local film academy (Filmova Akademie Miroslava Ondricka).
Diving deeper into the South Bohemian culture, students have visited a traditional and famous restaurant U Reineru that has been founded in 19th century and represent the local food.
On Sunday, before returning back to Prague, our little travelers have visited a castle Zvikov, its nature and also Zvikov’s brewery. This visit helped students to understand better the history of the Czech Republic and also the important of the cold beverage in the Czech culture. Overall trip broaden horizons of students and showed them life outside of Prague.
Film Studies students not only spend their time in Prague, but also outside of it. During this semester, CIEE organized two academic trips and students had the opportunity to discover places such as Karlštejn, Český Krumlov or Písek.
On one of the Saturdays, Film Studies students together with the Program Coordinator visited the Karlštejn Castle. Located only thirty minutes away from Prague, the Karlštejn gothic Castle is a great part of Czech history as it served as the place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia. Students had to climb up the hill in order to visit the castle and its surroundings. Even despite the cold weather and the fog, everyone has enjoyed the trip!
Another trip took place in the middle of March when students travelled to South Bohemia. Besides the historical tour, the visit of the Seidel Photo Studio Museum or the mirror labyrinth, students also had the chance to visit One World Film Festival (human rights film festival). What did students think about the trip?
"For most of our time in the Czech Republic, we stay within the beautiful confines of Prague. That is why, when we travelled to Cesky Krumlov, I felt incredibly happy to explore other regions of the Czech Republic. These were places that we wouldn't have otherwise seen."
"I loved exploring the city of Cesky Krumlov. We toured and explored the Krumlov Castle, as well as the St. Vitus church. Musicians played Bohemian melodies on the bridges. Spring was just around the corner, so we even saw the infamous bears, Kateřina and Vok, strolling about the castle’s moat. The coats-of-arms of the lords of Rosenberg, bearing the sign of the five-petalled rose, embellished the sides of the buildings around us."
"On the second day, we even went to the Seidel Photo Studio Museum. There, we developed our own pictures, and got the chance to recreate an early 20th century photograph of our whole group! There was also an international documentary film festival happening in the town. There, we loved not only watching the films, but afterwards skyping the director! The live-music event at the cinema’s cafe also was a beautiful end to the day. The atmosphere, the people, the food, the history and the sights made this trip one of the best I ever experienced“ wrote Anna, a student from the Film Studies Program.
The second half of the CIEE Film Studies semester at FAMU has started and while our students are busy with developing their screenplays before the pitch (Screenwriting track) and shooting their 16mm feature film projects (Production track), we are back with some updates on their academic trips in Fall 2016.
As a part of their Intensive Beginning Czech Language course, our Screenwriting track enrollees had a unique opportunity of joining their Czech teacher for a trip to Bohemia (as we mentioned in our first semester newsletter). During their 5 days in the beautiful nature of Stráž nad Nežárkou, they did not only spend 3 hours each day intensively learning Czech, but also bonding with each other and immersing themselves into the local culture (among others by spending time with their peers from Charles University) and the Czech concept of "turistika" (tourism)... they also got their own hands-on production experience! You can enjoy the results here:
Courtesy of Luděk Brouček (CIEE Czech professor), Adam Turkel, Clayton Davis, Joey Lieberman, Max Nelson, Liam Driscoll, and Melissa Heineman.
Academic overnight trip to Bohemia (Písek and Zvíkov)
For the weekend of October 21-23, Film Studies Resident Director Ivana Skenderija planned an overnight trip to Písek and Zvíkov. The first two days were focused on the academic aspect while day 3 was dedicated to immersion. Since 1996, this beautiful bohemian town with second oldest stone bridge in Central Europe, has been hosting an International Student Film Festival (MFSF) annually and we had the pleasure of attending the 16th round. CIEE's Global Architecture and Design Program Coordinator (Film Studies interim) Olga Pexídrová was born in Písek, so she provided a guided tour of the city (including and old power plant which gave the city public lighting as early as in 1888!). We tasted local dishes and met with local film students (who joined us for dinner and showed our students around). We also visited FAMO film school, so students had a chance to compare the differences between two major film schools in the Czech Republic. Of course that the students were also given a fair share of free time to be able to explore independently. On Sunday, we continued with a short hike to the beautiful castle of Zvíkov with mysterious Hliza tower (connected with many myths and legends). Students took some amazing pictures inside the castle as well as in the gorgeous park/forrest surrounding it. The trip was ended by a guided tour of a small brewery in Zvíkov - the founder and current owner showed us around and students appreciated his passion.
I am very excited to publicly share the final cut of "Mezi Nami (Between Us)," a short film that I wrote and co-directed during my semester abroad in Prague during the Spring of 2015. As of last weekend the film completed its short festival run after showing at Mid Americon II and the TRIFI International Film Festival. This film is the product of four months of intensive work and collaboration between myself, my co-director Javier Torres (University of Rochester), and cinematographer Oliver Hamilton (Denison University). I would not be the filmmaker that I am today without these two, without the help of our FAMU and CIEE mentors and professors, or without the support of everyone who participated in the CIEE Prague Filmmaking program. Also, a huge thank you to our star, Linda Svobodová, who put up with shooting for three days wearing a sheet, and brought this script to life with her flawless talent. We had an incredible time creating this film, and I hope that you all enjoy the fruits of that labor!
Studying abroad the CIEE Film Studies program in Prague is truly a unique and life enriching opportunity! Check out the video that our Spring 2016 student Jackson Xia (University of Colorado at Boulder) created for us as a part of his volunteering project!
by Corey Palermo, Rice University - CIEE FAMU Film Studies Production track
October 18, 2015
This past weekend we traveled to Moravia, first to Zlín, and then to Uherské Hradiště, where we stayed in an excellent hotel. The highlights of the trip were many, so I am forced to summarize. In Zlín, we learned a bit about Tomáš Baťa, who turned a $320 inheritance from his mother into an international manufacturing company with a strict moral code to take care of its workers. Some referred to him as the Henry Ford of Europe, and rightly so. His methods for shoe production reduced the cost of high quality shoes in Czechoslovakia and the surrounding regions drastically. As an employer, he took care of his own with very high moral and ethical standards. For example, when he learned that his employees had to walk multiple hours from home to the factory every day, twice a day, he decided to build inexpensive, subsidized housing for his employees. When people regarded him as charitable, he would disagree, stating instead that it made economic sense to allow the entire population (not just his employees) to profit from economic growth as much as possible. In his mind, hours were always too long, and wages always too low. It was his responsibility to remedy that. An interesting factoid about Baťa is that he was the first to introduce the “99” to the end of a price-tag. He understood that “199” looks intuitively better than “200.”
In Zlín we also learned a bit about multiple forms of animation, including two forms of 2D animation, pixel animation, and puppet stop motion animation.
Digital 2D AnimationTraditional Cel 2D Animation
I found pixel animation particularly interesting. It involves using live actors as your subjects, and taking photos of them stop-motion style to produce interesting or impossible results. For example, you could have two people sitting on the floor with their arms raised to imaginary steering wheels, and have them move an inch at a time forward with each picture, creating the illusion that their bodies are “driving” across the floor.
My favorite part of the trip was the trip to the Punkva Caves. The caves themselves were stunningly beautiful, and millions of years old.
The tour ended with an underground boat ride, which was amazing! Albeit a little dangerous…lots of rocks.
Underground Boat Ride!!!!
There is so much more to Moravia than I’ve just written, but you’ll have to take my word on that. Thanks for reading!
Preterminal nostalgia has begun. This phrase (which I coined. And doesn’t actually make sense with an exact definition.) perfectly describes how I’ve been starting to feel recently. I know that technically there’s still a lot of time left…but I keep finding myself looking back fondly on this abroad experience as if it’s already over. As hard as I try to look forward to what’s still to come, it definitely makes me sad to know that my time here is dwindling. So, it’s time to make the most of these next six weeks.
It is here that I would like to give my sincerest apologies to all (both?) of my loyal blog followers (shout out: Hi, Mom and Dad!). Apparently I overestimated my blog posting abilities…which would explain why I’ve only posted two things while I’ve been here. Oops. So I think for the rest of this post, I’ll just give you some brief descriptions of notable things that have happened in the past month.
We spent an entire day at the Hafan Animation Studios and animated a (very bizarre) movie about a man and his love affair with a horse. It was about as deep and emotionally riveting as a thirteen second movie about beastiality could be.
I spent a weekend in Italy. The food was amazing (how are Italians not fat?), and Venice and Florence are both beautiful cities. We rented a car to drive from Venice to Florence and began our journey by driving for two hours…the complete wrong way. We learned that north and south are, apparently, not interchangeable directions. Who knew?
In case you didn’t know (by the way, I have no idea who I’m talking to when I say “you.” For all I know, these blog posts are actually just being addressed to my parents.), I was an extra in House of Cards, season three (top left of this picture!). My debut was sensational, and I’m now constantly being harassed by Hollywood executives in response to my incredible talent of, what I like to call, “standing in the background for less than a second.”
I visited Ireland. Dublin is pretty cool, but I was actually a bigger fan of the Cliffs of Moher and Irish countryside, which is really as green and awesome as it looks in movies. It was also very nice to spend some time in an English-speaking location.
I travelled to London (and spent a day in Paris with my family. And it was amazing. All six of us have such big personalities, and I honestly can’t think of a point in that trip when I wasn’t entertained. I’m still convinced that someone should make a reality show about us just interacting. That show could probably be at least as popular as my blog. Zach, Jake, and I learned that our southern accents were convincing enough to make random British people believe that we were from Texas.
I had about eight hours of turnaround time between my family trip and our program trip to Brno. We went to a clowning workshop and a wine tasting, which were both really fun. We also watched a movie about Pedophiles. That was less fun.
And my last trip explanation: I went to Český Krumlov…a little town in the Czech countryside, and it was awesome. I went with three DoPs (Directors of Production. AKA camera guys), so fortunately, that meant I got to spend a lot of time modeling (and/or standing in front of a camera awkwardly). We were also reminded of the importance of turning off your car lights.
Our program went to the “Invisible Exhibition,” a really cool interactive museum where we were guided around for an hour in complete darkness. I’m already a pretty jumpy person when I have all of my senses…so hearing a lot of sudden noises without having my sight took some getting used to. And I may or may not have screamed in my tour guide’s face multiple times.
Final fun fact: Yesterday, I saw a man walking around with a mountain lion on a leash. I kid you not. Apparently it’s not an uncommon thing here, and the locals were confused by our confusion.
And that’s all I have for you. Tomorrow (AKA Easter Monday) is the day when the boys are supposed to whip the girls of Prague (something about fertility…?), so wish me luck!
I have found my soul mate. In the form of a country. Soul country? Country mate? Whatever…it’s here.
To be perfectly honest, I did very little research about Prague and general Czech customs before I got here. I was originally planning on going to London, but after dropping my double major, it made sense to come to Prague and take classes at FAMU (By the way…no idea if that’s an acronym. I feel like there aren’t enough letters in there for it to stand for “Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts,” but I feel relatively confident in saying that the “F” stands for “film”). So I headed to Prague, kind of ready to wing it. And what I’ve learned over the past few days has made me realize how in synch I am with the culture here. They hate loud noise. They hate small talk. They’re incredibly sarcastic. They wear dark clothes. Most importantly: THERE ARE SO MANY CZECH PUNS.
Ok, I have two things to clarify. 1. I realize that the above included some serious generalizations. I can’t be sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that Czechs are also (probably) unique snowflakes of human beings. 2. I am not using this blog to superficially rave about the “extraordinary,” “eye-opening,” or otherwise “indescribable” (I hate that word. A. It promotes laziness in writing. B. The word “indescribable” is, in itself, a description.) experience. Although I’m currently in the “honeymoon phase” of the lovely culture shock chart the CIEE staff showed us, life here is obviously not perfect, and I will do my best to avoid creating a shallow highlight reel of social media.
And, after that fun rant, here are some actual updates on my life here. After struggling with the six hour time difference and having a few nights of truly miserable sleep, I have finally gained the ability to sleep for an entire night like a normal human being. It’s very exciting. My program consists of fourteen film students (only four of us are screenwriters), and we’ve all reverted to the freshmen mob mentality. It’s fun to hang out as a group, but we’ve gotten our fair share of weird looks when we walk around in a pack of fourteen loud Americans. We explore and eat all of our meals together (and in case anyone was wondering…The Czech Republic is not the most vegetarian-friendly country) and do school-related things, too. Last week was filled with intensive orientation, and now we’re moving on to two weeks of intensive Czech. It’s definitely an interesting language, but I suck at it. BUT I can say “hi,” “bye,” “please,” “thank you,” “coffee,” “wine,” and “beer.” So I’m pretty much all set. I know you can tell you’re truly fluent in a language when you dream in it, but I’ve had a few dreams in Czech accents, and I’m pretty sure that’s like the same thing (right???).
Ok, I’m done now. Sorry…brevity is not my specialty. Na shledanou for now!
The 3rd Issue of CIEE Prague Newsletter concentrates on the special projects which were prepared by CIEE students during the Fall 2014 semester. Students from our four programs, namely Central European Studies, Communications, New Media + Journalism, Film Studies and Global Architecture and Design, spent a considerable amount of time and put a lot of effort into creating those exciting and unique projects, which are discussed in this newsletter in detail.
Enjoy reading about those outstanding special students´ projects!
Central European Studies
Special Immersion trip
Special Czech Immersion trip is an optional 3 day trip that our students can join. We prepared this trip last semester and because it was so successful, we decided to keep it. This trip is specific not only because just a small group of students attend (max. 10), but especially because our students do not stay in a hotel. They are accommodated with local families in Vodňany, a town in Southern Bohemia.
Students are accompanied by one of our Czech language teacher on behalf of CIEE. By preparing this trip we wished to give our students another opportunity for their immersion. And what is better than to take them to a small town far away from Prague and let them live with local families for a weekend?
On Friday, students visit a local high school, meet up with local students and spend an evening together. They meet their families for the weekend and also learn more about our culture. This semester students learned more about our St. Nicolas traditions and even decorated typical Czech ginger bread cookies. Saturday is spent with the families that prepare the program for the day.
On Sunday, students are taken to České Budějovice where they have a guided tour around the town and a brewery visit. After lunch, it is time to say good bye and head back to Prague.
This trip is an exceptional opportunity for students seeking to get more out of their study abroad experience, and we are that several students take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Feedbacks from our students:
“Fantastic! It was very well-organized and there was also time to explore the town with family. The high school was interesting and I enjoyed spending time with the students.”
“The trip gave me a chance to interact with Czech people that I have not had yet this semester.”
“The trip was well organized and very interesting.”
“I had a wonderful weekend, and I am very glad that I came on this trip! Výborně!”
“My best experience in Czech Republic so far! Thank you!”
“This was the most growing and learning experience I have had here so far and I am so thankful!”
“This has been the highlight trip since I have been in the Czech Republic. It was an amazing experience.”
“I learned a lot and loved staying with a family. It was nice experiencing what short stay would be like.”
“I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone in the program, it was so fun and a real immersion experience.”
“Loved it! Had an amazing time. Everything was great.”
Communications, New Media + Journalism
Victoria Macoul spent her semester as an intern for Motus, an organization “helping to create and present new performances and other creative acts, run debates and workshops, and initiate events beyond theatre: cultural development activities for an open democratic society” (Motus website). Victoria had many tasks, but one of her favorites was participating in the Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead festival:
„Motus, in cooperation with Puppets without Borders, brings a bit of Mexico to the Czech lands this year for the ninth time. Against the romantic background of Stromovka park children and their parents can learn these traditional practices, participate in a parade of lanterns, hear real live Mexican music, see performances for kids, shadow puppets and installations made of food – to eat!” (Motus website)
“I think the best part about working at the festival was being immersed in a setting where there were people from every generation. Sometimes as a student you find yourself surrounded solely by people your age, so it was nice to have interaction with families and young children.” Victoria Macoul, Communications Major, Virginia Wesleyan College
Český Rozhlas, Radio Prague:
You can learn more here about Jelani Spencer-Joe’s (Public Relations Major/Broadcasting Minor, Susquehanna University) work at her internship with Český Rozhlas, Czech Republic’s public radio broadcaster in operation since 1923.
Opened for the first time this semester, ICL is taught by Jana, our Center Director. Because the course touches on issues on intercultural communication issues, this course is offered as CNMJ course credit. Several CNMJ students took part and had to complete a „digital story.“ Alex Paxman, Communications Major, Bryant University would like to share hers with you:
CNMJ’s very own Jake Weeks (Roger Williams University, Communications Major) was the Creative Director of The Happening and was instrumental in putting the event together. Here’s more about it in his own words:
“The first annual CIEE ‘Happening’ was a program for students to partner up with a Czech action artist and collaborate on a project. Cynthia, Ivanna, and I met with Tomáš Moravec, an artist turned viral video star after he hacked a wooden pallet to glide down the tram tracks of Bratislava, Slovakia, and over the course of the semester we carefully planned out our project. We would film the ‘action’; the students coming in and out of the CIEE door, and edit the footage together to form a construction. Later on the evening of December 8th, we projected this footage onto a cloud of steam outside the door to complete the reconstruction. The intention was to make a statement on how fast the semester goes, and how our time in Prague will soon fade away.”
Insert video from Z:\CIEE Promotion\Newsletters\Fall 2014\Newsletter 3\CNMJ materials
Buddy Dance Video
“Honza is an awesome buddy for many reasons, but mostly because he's so fun to be around. As you can see in the video, he's always a source of entertainment. At the same time, I wouldn't have survived the first two weeks in Prague without Honza. He was more than willing to drop everything at any time to help me find the post office, grocery store, or wherever I needed to go. He is always willing to help and made my experience in the Czech Republic much easier and more enjoyable.” Joel Thom, University of California-Sacramento, Communications
Hafan animation studio workshop
Undoubtedly the most favorite excursion/workshop for the Film Studies program is HAFAN Studio Animation workshop. They split into groups of approximately 5 students and during one day they learn how to make a traditional animation short film with puppets. Only a couple of minutes of film can be created within the limited time, but all students agree it is definitely worth the experience.
Feedbacks from our students:
“A great place to explore and helpful to get experience using professional expertize.”
“One of the coolest projects I got to work on!”
“Absolutely wonderful. I'd love to spend a day just watching the animators!”
See one of the outcomes of the Fall 2014 semester below:
Intensive Beginning Czech Language course
CIEE Prague makes sure that even the Intensive Beginning Czech Language course is designed specifically for filmmakers. Vocabulary and phrases learned are often time then used during the production process when Production track students occasionally get Czech actors to cooperate with them (if they choose to make their final film in Czech, subtitled to English). Our Czech teacher Luděk Brouček makes them work with the textbook Film Czech - Survival Czech Course for Students of Film and Photography published by Ilona Kořánová in 2013.
Feedbacks from our students:
“It really helped with daily life in the Czech Republic and being able to at least try to communicate.”
“This was one of the best and most interactive language courses I have ever taken. We learned so much in such a short period of time.”
“I learned a lot in this course - Luděk is an amazing teacher and I was so impressed by how well he handled the whole class.”
To deepen the student experience, Luděk came up with a special video project: students had to come up with scenarios in which the got to use what they learnt. Again, see some of the results below:
CIEE Film studies students are usually strongly motivated individuals with true passion for filmmaking. Therefore they often come up with short independent films during their study abroad experience. Aaron Barnett from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and James Cashman from Seattle University came up with a couple of videos for their CIEE film studies blog - do not forget to checkout previous entries:
And last, but definitely not least, - <List names> from <list film name> production gave us a permission to publish their 16mm feature film project they created as their program requirement this term. They managed to shoot this project within 48-72 hours. Enjoy a selection of what we saw on the Final Screening on Thursday, December 18th.
Global Architecture and Design
This semester´s final projects of Global Architecture and Design students explored the island of Štvanice and proposed various ‘‘Amphibious Structures'' for the new festival ground. <insert GAD Photo Stvanice> This area with lot of commercial and urban potential became quite isolated and unused over the years. Our students presented new concepts for its future development.
In particular, students focused on opportunities to use the island´s full potential, especially for commercial use. The main focus was on the entertainment aspect of the island´s urban development. Nowadays, festivals are becoming major contributors to local and global economy as they have the ability to revitalize specific urban context and internationally promote the city as a rich-program destination.
Each student was given a specific area which they had to research and present a new idea of its future development. They had to face several challenges. The necessity for self-sufficient public space and infrastructure of future cities, they succeeded to propose a unique typology and technological intervention that can have profound impact not only on local surrounding, but can be applied on any context with similar challenges.
During the three core courses of Global Architecture and Design, the students were taught new technologies, methods and ways of thinking by leading figures of the contemporary scene of Czech architecture in order to successfully complete their special tasks.
CIEE Study Center Prague wishes you Happy Holidays!