VINYL GENERATION

In 1980s Czechoslovakia an emerging generation took inspiration from alternative culture to create their own worldview, politics and eventually, a revolution. 25 years later, this unique generational perspective is explored for the first time. VINYL GENERATION: a story of art, revolution and vinyl…

In the late 1980s, the last generation of underground culture emerged in Czechoslovakia, an East Bloc equivalent to the phenomenon known elsewhere as Generation X. Influenced more by punk, fanzine culture and international art movements than by the classical 1970s “dissident” underground, this generation grew up in the shadow of the 1968 Soviet Invasion of the country and came of age during the Gorbachev era. This era of “glasnost” brought with it limited access to foreign travel and a small increase in the availability of alternative music, art and literature. As a result, a unique local subculture sprang up, built around illegal record trading, ‘designer samizdat’ literary magazines such as Revolver Revue, and a non-professional (and therefore relatively uncensored) alternative music scene. Distinct from both the proceeding generations formed during the ‘Normalization’ Era and those which grew up in a free society after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, this group of people, now in their 40s, occupy an unusual position in Czech culture today, as the last to have undertaken non-mainstream creative activity under Communism but also the first to have attempted it in an emerging market economy during the country’s uneasy democratic transition in the 1990s.

The forthcoming documentary “Vinyl Generation” follows the personal stories and recent professional careers of two main characters as typical products of this uniquely generational culture, noted art historian and exhibition curator Otto M. Urban and alternative music promoter and producer Ondřej Šturma, from the pre-revolutionary period of the mid-1980s until the present day. Both remain deeply influenced by their formative experiences with illegal record trading as teenagers and later as first-hand participants in the turbulent events of 1989 as students. Today, both employ the recognizable attitudes and preoccupations of their generation in their professional work, still presenting and curating alternative culture (seen in the film in various activities throughout 2009-14) only now on a larger and more visible scale within Czech society. The producers of the film have themselves been fellow travellers in this story for years, personally documenting these subjects and themes in the Czech Lands since the revolution of 1989, and as a result have access to a unique body of archive material, including footage of both main characters dating back to 1998-2000 as well as many of the most notable alternative events during the post-revolution era, including previously unseen footage of dramatic street demonstrations and art actions during the Velvet Revolution itself, the founding of independent newspaper Respekt, the Totalitarian Zone art project (the first international contemporary art show in Prague) of the early 1990s, numerous commemorative events, the funeral of former President Václav Havel in 2011, and never-before seen concert footage of US alternative musicians who exerted a powerful influence on Czech culture such as Lou Reed (footage from first concert in 1990 and secret show in 2009), Frank Zappa (first show in 1991) and Lydia Lunch.

VINYL GENERATION is a fiscally sponsored project of the Austin Film Society. You can make a donation to this project using the form below. You will receive a letter acknowledging your gift to the Austin Film Society on behalf on the project. Since AFS is a non-profit organization, your donation may be deducted from your taxes as a charitable contribution under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.

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