Czech Television, the country’s national public broadcaster, has reason to be proud: it will have a strong representation at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival. Its two-part real-life mining drama Dukla 61, directed by David Ondříček picked up two nominations and its popular comedy series Dubbing Street received three nominations for Golden Nymph Awards.
The Cannes film festival, which begins next week, is set to pay tribute to the late Miloš Forman, screening a restored version of the late director’s 1965 classic Loves of a Blonde as well as presenting the world premiere of the new documentary Forman vs. Forman. I spoke to the head of the Czech Film Center, Marketa Šantrochová, about the country’s involvement in the 2019 Cannes – starting with the presentation of Loves of a Blonde.
Michael Havas grew up in New Zealand but came to communist Czechoslovakia – the country his parents had escaped from – to study film. He has made over 50 documentaries in a career that has seen him work with director Jan Švankmajer and many more noteworthy figures. Indeed, I first came across him in connection with a letter protesting Brexit that he wrote to the UK prime minister and circulated to friends, including Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin of Monty Python and musician Peter Gabriel. But when we met I first asked Michael Havas about his family
The legendary runner Emil Zátopek and his wife Dana, a javelin thrower, made history at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, when they won altogether four gold medals for Czechoslovakia. The story of one of the world’s most famous sporting couples is the focus of a new film by David Ondříček, which has just started shooting.
The classic Czech sci-fi film Ikarie XB1 looks set to find fresh audiences with a new Blu-ray release next week. A number of major figures in the history of Czech cinema were involved in the making of the black and white movie, which prefigured Western releases such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek.
Prague’s biggest movie event, Febiofest, kicks off on Thursday. Now in its 26th year, the festival gives many movies set for local cinema distribution their first screenings but also showcases scores of works that film buffs would otherwise have trouble tracking down. Ahead of Febiofest’s curtain-raiser, I asked its co-programme director Anna Kopecká what this year’s highlights were likely to be.
Behind the scenes, a ‘subsidy war’ is raging in Central Europe among national film commissions, which have been steadily sweetening rebates and incentives to attract lucrative Hollywood and other foreign productions. Czech Film Commissioner Pavlína Žipková says 2018 was a record year in spending and shooting days, with foreign productions – especially TV series – drawn in by top-notch crews, services and “eleven centuries of architecture” for locations.
In 2017 director Marie Dvořáková followed the likes of Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis and her compatriot Jan Svěrák in winning the Student Academy Award for her film Who’s Who in Mycology. When we spoke in New York, the filmmaker told me the short had a long gestation – and that she was currently working on not one but three new projects. But I first asked Marie Dvořáková what had drawn her to film in the first place.
Foreign filmmakers and TV crews spent nearly 5 billion crowns last year in the Czech Republic, a jump of nearly two billion crowns compared to 2017. With the state having paid out some 800 million crowns through an incentives scheme, the return on investment is solid. But competition is fierce – and heating up.