The latest film by Czech director and screenwriter Bohdan Slama, "Stesti" or "Something Like Happiness" has just premiered in Prague to high critical acclaim. Slama's previous feature "The Wild Bees" ("Divoke vcely") received a number of international awards, and according to reviewers, "Something Like Happiness" stands a similar chance.
"The film is about the way people change when they are growing up. The character of Monika becomes a woman and Tonik becomes a man. The transformation is caused by their problems which they need to solve. They are learning about each other, about themselves and they are finding out who they are."
The settings are shabby, the acting unpretentious - to some extent evoking the Czech New Wave of the 1960s. The heroes are common people living common lives, yet there is something very powerful about the film that the audiences can relate to emotionally.
The main characters are played by three of the stars of the younger generation: Tatiana Vilhelmova, Pavel Liska and Ana Geislerova. Director and screenwriter Bohdan Slama says he wrote the script with the trio in mind.
Ana Geislerova plays the character of Dasa.
"The character suffers from a specific psychological disorder. So for the first time in my life I had to do research. I went to a mental hospital and watched people with this disorder, how they speak, how they behave. Sometimes my intonation in the film is precisely what I copied from those people."
Pavel Liska, who plays Tonik, says he could easily identify with the character.
"I share a lot with Tonik. I am now 33 and I feel like 23 when it comes to responsibility or being sensible. But at the same time there is something positive and nice about his immaturity and at some point in the film he has to grow up because he has to take the responsibility."
Something Like Happiness was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week. Next week it will screen at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain and is already scheduled for screenings in New York, Athens and Island's capital of Reykjavik.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Study: Demand for new flats in Prague set to keep outstripping supply
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
1945-1948: From liberation to Stalinism
‘The fat lady sings’: Prague’s State Opera marks restoration to former glory with gala concert