director, actor, producer,
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
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
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,
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
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
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.