Author: Josef Čermák (CzechFolks.com PLUS)
Czech (or Czechoslovak) television in Canada is nothing new: Vladimír Bubak and David Ševčík started broadcasting their programs in Kitchener-Waterloo in 1978, in Ottawa the first broadcast (Arnošt Wagner) took place even earlier (1973), in London the creators of a television program were a husband and wife team, Josef and Ružena Mára. Perhaps the most significant was the TV program in Toronto, a child of Milo Kubik (I was his happy assistant). But of course none of those programs could match in scope the Nová vize of Marketa Slepčíková-Rešovská.
Whenever I talk to Marketa, it hits me how much the world has changed during the 87 years of my earthly visit. Imagine (for example) a business street in a city of almost any size 87 years ago, a street where women used to come to shop. Prams everywhere. And who pushed them? Women. The men (if they came at all) walked beside their wives, epicurean pride shining on their faces. Now looked at the same street now: probably a smaller number of prams (depending on how many white people live in the area), and all pushed by men. The mothers walk beside their husbands, almost as if they had nothing to do with either the pram or its occupant. When the fifth decade of the last century was coming to its close, there was one woman in the first year at the faculty of law of the University of Toronto. She left at Christmas. Today, women at almost all schools are in majority and compete with men successfully in all fields (music composers, brain surgeons, poets, mathematicians and cellists of the highest order only excepted).
My first encounter with Marketa Slepcik – because she was the first Czech woman in the full bloom of modern professional womanhood – hit me as a small avalanche. Obviously talented, still young and pretty, charged with energy and ambition to reshape the world in her image. The focus of her ambition was clearly Czech television in Toronto, partly because she used to work in television in her native land. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Marketa was born at the time when the Prague spring reached its height, on July 16. 1968. She spent her childhood in her native Pardubice (but a good part of it also in the region of Czech poets, Vysoké Veselí u Jičína in the Czech paradise). In Pardubice, she also completed gymnazium (high school).
Becoming, In 1986 editor of the local newspaper in Hradec Králové. From 1988 to 1992, she studied journalism. After finishing her school, she joined the news section of a television organization and because her diploma work concentrated on the Roma issue, she focused on this problem and was for two years in charge of the Roma television program. Then she transformed herself into a dramaturgy, worked for four years in Krásný film at Barrandov and the last four years was the editor of a Prague cable television, She did well – after three years she was appointed its editor-in-chief. In the meantime the political situation in the country worsened and in 1998 Marketa, with her husband and son, moved to Holland, where they earned their living anyway they could. A year later, they moved to New Zealand and finally, in 2000, to Canada.
They settled in Toronto. In her new hometown, Marketa worked first as a cleaning lady and later as a saleswoman at Pichliks butcher shop and bakery. Then she found a job as a volunteer in a government office providing assistance to newcomers to Canada (particularly families who had difficulty assimilating), where she eventually landed a paid job, which she held until the grant paying her job came to an end.
Then another metamorphosis: Marketa became a secretary and in her new disguise soaked up new experiences at Jerry Formánek’s company, Trans-Com (many newcomers to Canada found there employment). Nine months later, Marketa and Jerry came to the conclusion that Marketa’s talent wasn’t fully exploited at her present job. Marketa left and found a position at the television company, OMNI, where she eventually, after showing several pilot films (Masaryktown, Floods in Prague) founded Czech (or rather Czech and Slovak) television. She was obligated to sign a contract for 13 programs (13 weeks), and find a cameraman. Luckily, she found sponsors (it’s not easy to say NO to Marketa): Jerry Formánek’s Transco, Czech Airlines in Canada (of blessed memory – can you imagine: they flew you directly from Toronto to Prague…) and smaller amounts came from MMI and the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada. Three months later, Marketa was able to hire a cutter.
Marketa Slepčiková’s Nová vize has an honorable mission: to inform about life an activities of the Czech community in Canada; to create documentary films of leading members of the community; to capture segments of the community’s history. And to do it truly professionally. Marketa feels that her most successful programs were the documentary films about individual members of the community. OMNI sees, as most important (and as one of the best films ever shown by it) Marketa’s film about immigration to Canada from the Czech lands (Tři vlny – Three waves), which was financed by OMNI and already several times shown by it in its own programming. Nová vize will be able to show it in its programming only when OMNI’s exclusive rights expire. Very successful was also Nová vize’s film Slováci v Kanadě – Slovaks in Canada, which was shown several times not only in Canada, but also in Slovakia, where it was first shown on the Slovak television at the most popular time, in the evening of the St. Cyril and Metod holiday. The Slovak television is obviously more interested in the Slovak community in Canada than the Czech television in the Czech. Nová vize also plays an important part as an advertising medium for Czech firms and individuals. It offers its services in other areas as well: professional immortalization of our weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, graduations, granting of honors…
It has several sponsors, such as companies of Milan Kroupa and Acuna, without which it couldn’t survive; it has the support of the Czech government and several individuals. It deserves a much greater support from the rest of us. Not least because it is, together with Satellite, Nový domov and local periodicals of the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada, many of which have a very high standard, such as Kitchener Dobrý den, Winnipeg Pramen, Edmonton Zpravodaj and Zpravodaj in Vancouver, a spokesman of our community and in my view – certainly in Ontario – the most effective.
Not even Marketa could possibly manage the complex process of shooting and screening of weekly programs without a regular or at least an occasional help of several associates: Věra Kohoutová, Jiří Grosman, Zuzana Hahnová, Sebastian Slepčík. But the most important contribution in the last few years came from the camera and connections of Marketa’s husband, a cameraman well known to viewers of the Slovak television as well as the viewers of several world television organizations. We offer Marketa and her associates, and especially Nové vizi, our congratulations for giving us 400 programs, and our hopes that they have enough energy for at least 1 000 more. One of them – which will also be financed by OMNI, will feature Vancouver’s Divadlo za rohem and the famous Vancouver Czech, physician, scientist, actor and director, Dr. Josef Skála.
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Josef Čermák: Markéta Slepčíková – 8 roků a 400 programů české televize v Torontu
Krajanská televize v Kanadě je ovšem daleko staršího data: v Ontariu dělali televizi už před desítkami let na příklad v Kitcheneru Vladimír Bubák a David Ševčík, v Londonu Josef Mára a nejvýznamněji, v Torontu, Mílo Kubík, jemuž jsem se snažil pomáhat já. Ale žádná z těchto akcí se rozsahem nemůže měřit s Novou vizí, dítětem Markéty Slepčíkové-Rešovské.
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