Syracuse native Mary Angiollilo (L) has a part in the film "Skr tek"
Syracuse International Film Festival fans likely recall Czech filmmaker Tom Vorel's madcap tale of teen-age graffiti artists tangling with police and teachers, "Gympl," which screened last spring and took festival honors.
In 2007, Vorel's adult comedy "Skr tek/Dwarves" -- like "Gympl," featuring Vorel's son Tom , Jr. -- won SYRFILM's 2007 Best of Fest prize. Popular with Central New York audiences, "Skr tek" screens again on Saturday, January 23, at Eastwood's Palace Theatre at 7:30 PM. The screening also celebrates the release of "Skr tek" on the festival's own DVD label, New Classics Films.
"Skr tek" follows the mishaps of a supermarket clerk, her unfaithful butcher husband, their two children -- a teen-age son and a younger daughter, both at the mercy of ridiculous teachers -- and the tiny trickster of Czech fable, the Sk tek, who takes a liking to the daughter. With its music soundtrack by the band MIG 21, the film's story unfolds without language or subtitles, but that is not to say it is silent. Instead of words, the characters erupt in bursts of incoherent explosive sounds. Made in the manner of early silent film comedies, the action is speeded up, the acting and situations are stylized and broad, and the instrumental accompaniment provides motifs for each character as well as signaling types of scenes to occur.
Some early filmmakers vehemently opposed adding sound to movies; they believed that "talkies" were incompatible with film as an art form and would destroy cinema. Suppose we were to make a movie, with the technical capacity we now have for shooting and editing, but in the style of Chaplin or Keaton, with no event too outlandish to insert in daily life and a shared appreciation of the absurdity of modern urban life? "Skr tek" is what you might get, proving that style is not so antiquated as one might think, but fresh and comic still.