New Vorel film could be headed for cult status among teens


    A new Czech comedy called High School (Gympl), which premiered last weekend at the "Fresh Film Fest" student film festival in Karlovy Vary, could be on its way to achieving cult status among teenagers

    The film is directed by veteran Tomás Vorel, with over a dozen films to his credit including the 2005 absurd comedy Dwarf (Skritek) and the 1996 film Stone Bridge (Kamenny most), in which former Czech President Vaclav Havel had a cameo role. Earlier credits include work as an assistant on Yentl (1981), directed by Barbra Streisand, and The Howling II (1982), directed by Philippe Mora.

    High School (www.gymplfilm.cz) is about student graffiti artists and their conflicts with authority versus absolute freedom, a favorite subject in Czech cinema. It features two young rising stars: Tomas Vorel Jr., the director's son, and Jiri Madl.

    It was shot on a budget about average for a Czech film (about €1 million) and was coproduced by the director's own Vorel Film, the Czech Film Fund, Czech Television (www.ceskatelevize.cz) and RWE Transgas.

    High School will be released Sept. 27 by the Czech distributor Falcon a.s. (www.falcon.cz) in 37 prints, with a later release in Slovakia. Falcon already released some successful Czech comedies internationally, such as Pupendo and Snowboarders.

    The film was advised by a leading graffiti artist who goes by the moniker Pasta Oner and describes the real-life adventures of students. Vorel said the idea came out of a meeting he had with a former high school official named Tomas Houska who wrote a book called "Graffiti Rules."

    "When I studied, we escaped to the pubs," the 50-year-old Vorel told FNE. "Today, schoolchildren escape out to the streets and paint on the walls. The world of school is too faint for them, parents are too remote, the cinema world is too virtual. They need a real life-a graffiti life."

    Graffiti has always fascinated Vorel. "I understand it as pseudonyms for real guys who are saying, ‘I am here!'"

    Vorel says while 90% of all graffiti is worthless, so are 90% of all commercial billboards: "If authorities want to prohibit graffiti, they should prohibit billboards first!"