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Modern Czech cinematography

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The Czech Republic has a productive generation of new screenwriters, directors and actors who present their productions to audiences all over the world. Czech films have not only been awarded many prestigious prizes at international film festivals, but have also won film's highest honor - the Oscar - several times.

The year 1989 and the Velvet Revolution introduced a breath of fresh air and freedom into the Czech cinematography. After the celebrated era of the First Republic films and those of the 1960s, new filmmakers and screenwriters appeared along with auteurs.

Modern Czech cinematography follows the successful legacy of its predecessors and auteurs of the socialist era who emigrated. Czech films have won several Oscars - for the films Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos), Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains directed by Jiří Menzel) or Kolja (Kolya by Jan Svěrák). The history of Czech film also reveals great films like Extáze (Ecstasy by Gustav Machatý, with his adorable image composition), Hoří, má panenko (The Firemen´s Ball by Miloš Forman) or Musíme si pomáhat (Divided We Fall from Jan Hřebejk). More detail information can be found underHistory of Czech cinematography.

Local filmmakers faced increased competition in the form of international (primarily American) productions and the arrival of commercial television stations in the 1990s. Although there is a good tradition of people going to see Czech films in Czech society, it is difficult to recover the money invested into film projects.

One notable success was the Oscar for best foreign-language film, which was deservedly won by the father-and-son team Zdeněk and Jan Svěrák for the film Kolya in 1996.

Besides Jan Svěrák, the most outstanding figures among contemporary Czech filmmakers include the double act of Jan Hřebejk and Petr Jarchovský (their film Divided We Fall was nominated for an Oscar in 2000), Saša Gedeon (nominated for a European film award for the movie Návrat idiota, or The Idiot Returns), Petr Zelenka (winner at the Karlovy Vary Festival with Rok ďábla, or Year of the Devil) and others.

The name of director Ivan Zachariáš is an important one in the international advertising industry.

One interesting film detail, which has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records, is the making of the film Krysař (The Pied Piper) by F. A. Brabec, which took place in the course of just one single day, January 31, 2002.

At present, around 15 films are made every year. State support in the form of grants is allocated by the Cinema Development Fund (Fond pro rozvoj kinematografie), but this is negligible. The biggest co-producer is the state body Czech Television.

Czech animated film continues a long and famous tradition and currently abounds in great invention and garners many prizes. However, it is struggling from a lack of finances and must rely primarily on foreign job orders. The rich tradition and successes in our article dedicated to animated film.

The Czech Film and Television Academy was established in the early 1990s, and this presents the prestigious Český lev (“Czech Lion”) film awards every year. The Elsa television awards have also been presented since 2004.

Thanks to the renowned professionalism of local film workers and the favorable costs of film production here, the Czech Republic has become a popular location for many producers from all over the world. Barrandov Studios and Prague have played host to a number of large-scale foreign productions (e.g. Mission Impossible, directed by Brian de Palma; Les Miserables, directed by Bille August; Blade II, directed by Guillermo del Torro; The Brothers Grimm, directed by Terry Gilliam; Hart’s War, directed by Gregory Hoblit; XXX, directed by Rob Cohen; Oliver Twist, directed by Roman Polanski, and others).

One of the film industry’s more notable successes abroad was an Oscar nomination for 2003 for the film Želary (directed by Ondřej Trojan).

What were the beginnings and the golden era of the Czech cinematography? Read about its history.


Added: 05.12.2009

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