Za „vysokou ideovou úroveň“, a/nebo za vyšší tržby? Filmová distribuce v českých zemích z hlediska konfliktu ideologických a hospodářských cílů (1945–1968)
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Ideology or Financial Profit or Both? Film Distribution in the Bohemian Lands and the Conflict between Ideological and Economic Aims, 1945–68
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Film distribution in Czechoslovakia under the Communist régime was meant to serve political ends as an instrument in developing a new kind of film culture. The initial failure of this model underscored the tension between the ideological requirements on arts policy and economic demands made on the film industry. Distribution in 1948–68 can therefore usefully be seen not only as an instrument for carrying out the official ideology of the Communist Party, but also as a place where different interests clashed as they were carried out in distribution practices. From this perspective the author considers the changes that took place in the distribution and presentation of films in these years. Even before the February 1948 takeover, an orientation to the USSR within the film industry and pressure from the apparat of the Czechoslovak Communist Party were clearly manifested in film distribution. The years from 1948 to 1950 saw the most striking attempt to create a new type of film culture and radically to force the supply of films to conform to this aim. The failure of these efforts, accompanied by financial demands on the Czechoslovak State Film company (Československý státní film), led to a certain differentiation in what was put on offer and also led to the first conflicts between the company and the apparats of the State and the Party. According to the author, there was a marked decentralization of distribution in 1957, but shortly afterwards the régime became more rigid and the number and kinds of films that were distributed became more limited. In the 1960s economic criteria of distribution were increasingly taken into account. After the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the process came to a peak. At the same time, the number of Western-made films shown in Czechoslovakia and the number of people going to seem them briefly increased, whereas the number of screenings of Soviet and East bloc films and the size of their audiences declined. The turning-point was caused by restrictions on the arts as part of ‘normalization’ policy (the overall return to hard-line Communism) beginning in 1969. Although fundamental changes in film distribution after 1948 were mostly dictated by the centre of power, its ideological demands in this area ran up against economic demands and the reality of productivity requirements. This created a palpable tension between aspects of arts policy and aspects related to economics, and made the film-distribution sector a sphere of hidden and sometimes even open conflict.
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