DER Documentary

Banjo Romantika: American Bluegrass Music and the Czech Imagination

Banjo Romantika launch preview watch the trailer

Shara K. Lange & Lee Bidgood
color, 65 min, 2015
in English and Czech
with English subtitles


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No other place in the world has a romance with American bluegrass like the Czech Republic. Banjo Romantika introduces the musicians who play this unique bluegrass hybrid. Czechs first heard bluegrass during World War II when the Armed Forces Network broadcast American music for soldiers. The music represented freedom to dissatisfied Czechs living in a communist state. Czechs' love for the music was solidified when Pete Seeger visited and performed in 1964. Inspired by classic American bluegrass sounds, an assortment of musicians from across the formerly communist Czech Republic have melded the past, the political and the present into a lively musical tradition entirely its own.

“In Tennessee every cowboy or every farmer loves this music and that's why everyone young and old knows how to play it. Guitars, harmonicas, banjos, bass…I'll stay forever in the land of this music.”
— Bluegrass, Traditional Czech Song
“It was the discovery of a musical genre…because it was forbidden, it was more tantalizing.” — Marko Čermák, Greenhorns

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