Ice Mother by Bohdan Sláma swept the boards at the main domestic film awards, the Czech Lions, on Saturday night. The bittersweet family drama collected six prizes, including Best Film and Best Director. This year’s Czech Lion ceremony was also marked by political protest, with some filmmakers taking a stand against the country’s leaders.
The filmmaker also collected both the Best Director and Best Screenplay gongs at the Czech equivalent of the Oscars at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday night. Indeed, Ice Mother saw a record-equalling 15 nominations converted into six prizes.
The movie is a bittersweet, keenly observed story of a put upon older woman whose life changes when she meets a man who is an otužilec, a member of an ice swimming club.
The man of the evening, Bohdan Sláma, explained where he had found inspiration for the family drama.
“Life, like always. I focus on the world of a woman who is a grandma and has sons who are adult but are infantile, like kids. They are used to treating her like a slave. So the movie is about her revolt against this role, which she is supposed to accept but doesn’t.”
While the traditional celebratory atmosphere was very much in evidence, this year the Czech Lion awards were also distinguished by a political tone.
Before the TV broadcast of the awards got underway, Jan Svěrák, whose Barefoot was in the running in several categories, presented a petition in defence of Czech Television from the stage.
President Miloš Zeman had attacked the channel in his inauguration speech last week and critics say that PM Andrej Babiš is also seeking to undermine the station.
Among those vocally supporting the public broadcaster at the Czech Lions was also Olga Sommerová, who won Best Documentary for Červená.
“This ceremony is being broadcast by Czech Television, which belongs not to an oligarch but to us citizens. If rulers want to destroy the sovereignty of public service TV, I call on my fellow filmmakers and citizens to come together empathically and stand up against that and defend free Czech Television.”
Speaking on Sunday Prime Minister Babiš hit back at the directors, suggesting they had a problem accepting the outcome of democratic elections. For his part the president’s spokesman responded with a series of venomous tweets.