28-01-2004

In today's papers U.S. Microsoft magnate Bill Gates' visit to Prague and the Czech film Zelary's nomination for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy awards vie for top story - with Lidove Noviny featuring a photo of U.S. actress Sigourney Weaver and the chairman of the film academy Frank Pierson announcing the nominees. Writes the paper Zelary will face off against the Swedish drama "Evil", as well as a Japanese historic film called "The Twilight Samurai", the Dutch film "Twin Sisters", and French-Canadian satire "The Barbarian Invasions", directed by well-known Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand.

Meanwhile, Zelary's success in getting the nomination has come as a most-welcomed surprise: the film's director and producer Ondrej Trojan tells Wednesday's Lidove Noviny he kept the project under a tight lid in the U.S. - presenting only official screenings and doing his utmost to get the film to the right people.

ZelaryZelary Still, says Mr Trojan, he was unable to watch the announcements on TV or the internet, he was simply too nervous. The nomination marks the first time a Czech film has been in the running since 2001, when Jan Hrejbek's Divided We Fall failed to take the night. Trojan's Zelary stars the young and talented Czech actress Anna Geislerova alongside Hungarian leading man Gyorgy Cserhalmi.

Finally, if Zelary's nomination wasn't enough, Wednesday's Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that Czech hopes for an Oscar don't end there: in what can only be considered an incredible coincidence Anna Geislerova's younger sister Ester stars in a Czech-U.S. co-production that was nominated for Best Short Film. Called 'Most, it extends the Czechs' chances of winning - as the Czechs themselves might say 'Mame dve zeliska v ohni' - two chances in which to triumph.

Far from triumphant though is a serious situation at one Czech school, writes Mlada Fronta Dnes, where it has come to light organised bullying by children has come to a head. Earlier this week, one of the students - in 8th grade - was sent to hospital with a broken arm with multiple fractures. The reason? He had been forced to walk down a path the students have called 'the alley of death'.

The chilling game, known to most children in the area - a small town near Prague, sees a group of aggressive target one child, pushing them around until they begin to lose their balance. At that moment someone pushes the child from behind so that they fall as hard as possible against school desks, resulting easily in injury.

Mlada Fronta Dnes writes experts have long been warning that bullying is getting out of hand: more and more widespread. Even so, the daily says, police rarely investigate more than a handful of cases. Meanwhile, the family of the boy who broke his arm and underwent operation, say they would consider him changing schools, if the bullying were to happen again.

Turning to a story from the arts now, Hospodarske Noviny writes that a painting from 1922 by Czech painter Frantisek Kupka could change hands at London's Sotheby's auction house in February if the price is right. Titled Tryskani II - a gorgeous palette of blues, reds but also beige and white - the painting, which was created in Paris and is owned by a private collector, could go for as much as 350, 000 pounds.

Pavel Bem and Bill Gates, photo: CTKPavel Bem and Bill Gates, photo: CTK Hospodarske Noviny notes that Sotheby's catalogue ranks Kupka alongside Kandinsky and Malevich in importance in the history of modern painting. The daily adds that last year two of Kupka's works were the most expensive on the home market as well - selling for as much as 4 million crowns.

And finally, we turn back to that story on Bill Gates and his whirlwind one-day visit to Prague. On Wednesday Mr Gates met with several Czech ministers and Prague officials including the city's Lord Mayor Pavel Bem. Pravo writes after presenting the U.S. billionaire with a magnificent key to the city, Mr Bem invited the U.S. software wiz for refreshments, though because of Mr Gate's busy schedule they spent no more than ten minutes in discussion. The daily notes that Mr Gates didn't even have time to grab his personal favourite "a burger and diet coke" throughout the day - that saw him wrap-up meetings here only to take off for Bratislava.

28-01-2004

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