Cannes Classics | Update : 20.12.18 . 1:18 PM

Démanty Noci (Diamonds of the Night), a poignant, sensitive poem on the darkness of the Holocaust

Film still of Démanty Noci (Diamonds Of The Night)

Film still of Démanty Noci (Diamonds Of The Night) © RR

Démanty Noci (Diamonds of the Night) is the 1964 debut feature film by the director Jan Němec, a member of the New Wave of Czech cinema. A restored copy of this intense drama, which deals with the subject of the Holocaust, will be shown as part of Cannes Classics.

Diamonds of the Night captures and shows in real time the conditions of fatigue, extreme hunger, anxiety and insecurity experienced by two young Jewish men, on the run after escaping a deportation train. Images of the escape are interspersed with the characters' personal memories, dreams and hallucinations, to the point where they merge and become indistinguishable.

Jan Němec takes us on a lyrical journey through his personal vision of the Holocaust, keeping the dialogue to a minimum, leaving space for the silence, which is witness to the extremes of existence. By bringing Arnošt Lustig's novel "Darkness Casts No Shadow" to the screen, the filmmaker also pays tribute to the renowned Czech writer, who was a Shoah survivor and who participated in the making of the film.

With Diamonds of the Night, Jan Němec presents a timeless first feature film, which raises questions about difference and the acceptance of the other. It would be the precursor to many other masterpieces, including A Report on the Party and Guests, which was part of the Festival de Cannes programme in 1968. Created for the most part in the 1960s, his films helped win international recognition for Czech cinema. They fell silent after the Normalisation of 1974 and were forbidden from being promoted until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

A presentation of the National Film Archive, Prague. Restored by Universal Production Partners studio, Prague, under the supervision of the National Film Archive, Prague.

Written by Eugénie Malinjod

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