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Tomáš Vorel

director, actor, producer, screenwriter


The films of Tomáš Vorel cannot be separated from the life of Tomáš Vorel. The once to be director was born in 1957 (June 2 at 3 a. m.) in Prague. Vorel´s parents, named their oldest son in deference to Czechoslovakia´s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. „I was given the name Tomáš because my mother is a big nationalist,“ comments the director laconically.

Tomáš Vorel grew up in Braník, Prague´s southern ward on the right bank of the Vltava river. It is a particular part of Prague 4 with a history of being a quirky centre of (underground) theatres, artistic clusters, puppet shows and pantomime groups. One of such creative groups that came to dominate Braník´s scene was Vorel family´s own satirical puppet theatre Zvoneček (Little Bell). „I was about ten years old when Little Bell came into existence. Its first scene was in our flat, its last is the cultural centre of Prague 4. Today you can still find Little Bell there, still playing with the marionettes collected by my father who had gathering them the whole life, ending up with the biggest marionette collection in Europe,“ unveils the director.

During his high school studies (spent in the secondary grammar school in Braník), Vorel co-founded what later became some of Prague´s most legendary artistic clusters – the Prague Five theatres. He was personally most involved in one of the five units – the satirical theatre Sklep (Cellar). „In a way, Cellar was a continuation of my and my father´s puppet theatre Little Bell. They even resided in the same spot,“ recalls the director. At that time, Vorel also used to „hang out in the nearby pubs in Braník with some of the most unbelievable types and outcasts“ – artists, musicians, stand-up comedians.

In 1982, at the age of twenty-five, Vorel began his studies at the Prague´s legendary Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts. „The decision to become a director came like a bolt from the blue to me. I was a student of a different university then, was in my second year of studies at the faculty of civil engineering, when I was walking through the old centre of Prague one day. In one of its streets, the notion of doing film directing struck me suddenly and has never left me since. I still remember the exact street and in it the exact spot where I got that idea,“ says the director.

Tomáš Vorel was graduating from FAMU at an interesting time. He was part of that unique group of directors who formed a first wave of post-communist film makers. From FAMU, Tomáš Vorel´s path led, sometimes more and sometimes less directly to what is to be summarized as his:


Prague Five (1988) is Vorel´s first feature and first hit both with the audiences and the critics. The motion picture promotes itself as a ´feature film consisting of five individual tales´, all of which are mocking the communist regime that was obscurely nearing its end.

Vorel´s second feature Smoke dates to 1990. Half way a catchy musical and half way a murky satire of the dying communist (and freshly blooming capitalist) times proves Tomáš Vorel to be not only a first class director, but also a first class visionary.

Tomáš Vorel´s third, strongly autobiographic, feature Stone Bridge (1996) introduces us to an artist wretched by own sensitivity and originality. The movie, defined as a ´bitter comedy´, goes against all stylistic, contentual and commercial expectations of its time.

Vorel´s next film takes the director (and the audience) from the dirt of city to the purity of nature. Out of the City (2000) reconstructs the director´s Odyssey from the concrete block flat in Prague to the virgin woods of Western Bohemia. The picture is a sassy criticism of the late 1990s Czech society and its obsession with everything „new“, „American“ and „modern“.

Out of the City II (2002) is a full length documentary and to date the only non-fiction directed by Tomáš Vorel. The film was tailor-made after the success of Out of the City and it talks about Out of the City´s main protagonists and their own flight to nature.

Tomáš Vorel´s probably most original and courageous act to date, the silent grotesque Skritek (2005), met with critical acclaim especially abroad. The movie was awarded as the Best European Film at the Syracuse International Film Festival and earned good points from international critics and academics.

A true commercial hit came in 2007 with the release of Tomáš Vorel´s seventh feauture The Can. The film tells a story of two high school friends who are dedicated to everything but their studies, especially to illegal graffiti writing.

Catch the Billionaire (2009) is Tomáš Vorel´s only film based on a novel (and an original work of a different author than himself). The sassy picture introduces us to a crazy chase in which everyone, including police officers, journalists, politicians, artists, TV stars, priests and young beauty queens, wants to... catch the billionaire.

Three years later, Vorel moves back from the posh billionaire offices of Prague to the innocent greenery of Western Bohemia woods. There he shoots the beatiful and enchanting comedy To the Woods (2012), a loose sequel to Out of the City.

Prague Cans is Tomáš Vorel´s tenth full-length movie and it is a free sequel to the box office hitting The Can. And it is worth seeing. Worth seeing more than one time, we mean.

To this date, Tomáš Vorel has directed ten features and yet the rebellious child from Braník that never fully grew up still does not cease to entertain us.


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