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Petr, youthful, quiet, and sensitive, comes from Prague to teach natural science in a country town. The gruff principal asks what he's running from and predicts he'll be gone in six months. Marie, a widow with a teen son, Lada, befriends Petr. She's lonely. Petr does some chores at her farm and watches Lada with his weekend girlfriend, Bara. We meet Petr's parents and understand some of why he left Prague, then Petr's friend Mihi pays a visit and we understand more. Mihi throws a wrench in things, and Lada comes to Petr for help. Has Petr found his place in the world, but what about his nature? Written by
Bohdan Sláma wrote and directed this sensitive and tender story about public versus private views of sexuality in the Czech Republic: his gifts as an artist of cinema are formidable. He knows how to tell a story, how to create a fascinating group of characters that with little dialogue speak loudly about human rights and understanding of differences.
THE COOUNTRY TEACHER ('Venkovský ucitel') opens with a young teacher from Prague who has joined the faculty of a small country school - an environment completely at odds with the rush and high life of the city. Petr (Pavel Liska) is a quiet, withdrawn, seemingly depressed young man who immediately connects with the students in his Ntural History class. The students and community accept this new gift to education in the provinces but wonder why such a fine teacher would leave Prague. Petr finds housing in a curtained room of a meager household and begins his quiet cloistered life away from what seems to be a traumatic escape from his home in Prague. We soon learn that in Prague, Petr had problems with a relationship and his fellow teacher mother cannot understand why Petr cannot find happiness as a normal married male. He confesses to her that he is gay and his mother (and elusive father) begin to understand why Petr 'escaped'. Back in his new country home Petr makes friends with a single mother Marie (Zuzana Bydzovská) who serves as both mother and father to her 17 year old son Lada (Ladislav Sedivý), a funky lad in love with a girlfriend whom he sees as his intellectual superior. Marie hopes to attract Petr but when overtures are ignored she instead engages Petr to tutor Lada. All goes well until Petr's ex partner (Marek Daniel) visits and disrupts the environment of Petr's closeted safe life. As Petr and Lada grow in their relationship as tutor and pupil, Lada discovers he can indeed succeed academically. After a night wen the two drink too much an incident occurs that unveils Pter's growing love for Lada and Lada leaves in disgust. The world explodes for Petr but gradually his honesty as presented first to Marie and then to his faculty begins a course of healing that leads to a touching closure of the story.
The cast is first rate and capably convey the spectrum of emotions that surround this little tale of discovery. How Bohdan Sláma is able to keep his story aligned in transferring between Prague and the little county province demonstrates a sensitivity to human interaction that is equal to the finest writers and directors. In Czech with English subtitles.
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