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Diamonds of the Night

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Director: Jan Němec
1964 / 64min / DCP

Clocking in around the hour mark, the jury’s out as to if Diamonds of the Night constitutes Němec’s “feature debut”—but by any measure, it’s one of the most overwhelming, raw, and propulsive works of the Czech New Wave. Based on a short story by Arnošt Lustig describing his experiences during the Holocaust, Němec’s film uses a hallucinatory barrage of experimental techniques and astonishing long-take handheld camerawork to illustrate both the turbulent inner and outer lives of two young Jewish men fleeing through the Sudetenland woods after escaping from a train bound for the camps, a militia of dotards in hot pursuit. A work of terrible beauty, located at the intersection of Buñuel and cinéma vérité.

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