PRAGUE: Czech cinema enjoyed domestic and international success with numerous feature films, documentaries and also several short films in 2019. The year was marked by a growing number of coproductions, the so far highest spend of international film crews shooting on Czech locations and exceptional box office results.
The Painted Bird directed by Václav Marhoul was selected as Czech Republic’s candidate for the 92nd edition of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award in the International Feature Film category. The film is the first Czech majority coproduction selected for the main competition of the Venice Film Festival (2019) in 25 years and it was also selected for the Special Presentations section of the 44th Toronto IFF (5-15 September 2019).
Jiří Mádl’s sophomore feature On the Roof won the main prize at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival, Michal Hogenauer’s debut feature A Certain Kind of Silence won the Bronze Pyramid Award at the Cairo IFF and the Slovak/Czech coproduction Let There Be Light by Marko Škop won the main prize at the Almaty FF.
The most successful Czech documentary of 2019 was Forman vs. Forman by Helena Třeštíková, which premiered in the Cannes Classics section of the Cannes Film Festival and was screened afterwards at another 40 festivals.
The animated short film Daughter / Dcera by Daria Kashcheeva won the Cristal for a Graduation Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival as well as the Children’s Jury Prize for Best Student Film. The film has won approximately 40 awards, including the prestigious Student Academy Award for best animated film (International Film Schools category), and it was nominated for the Academy Award in the Animated Short Film category.
More than 100 Czech feature films and long documentaries were in various stages of production in 2019, including numerous international coproductions. The coproducing countries traditionally included largely represented Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Russia.
As far as the topics and genres of the feature films are concerned, period films - both from older and more recent Czech history - represent a substantial part of the 2019 production, but films on political and social subjects are made more and more often. Filmmakers of all genres also often touch ecological problems of today´s world. Comedy remains a successful genre in Czech cinemas, as well as films for children, including long animated films.
Beside experienced and renowned directors shooting new films, numerous debut features were also produced in 2019.
Important films were in postproduction or completed in 2019 after several years of production. Among them are the US/Czech/UK coproduction Medieval / Jan Žižka directed by Petr Jákl and produced by WOG FILM; Agnieszka Holland’s Charlatan / Šarlatán produced by Marlene Film Production (CZ) and coproduced by Film and Music Entertainment (IE), Madants (madants.pl, PL), Furia Film (SK), the Czech Television, Barrandov Studio (CZ), the Radio and Television of Slovakia, CertiCon (CZ) and Magiclab (CZ); and Juraj Jakubisko´s Czech/Slovak fantasy coproduction Perinbaba and the Two Worlds / Perinbaba a dva světy, produced by the Czech company J&J Jakubisko Film Europe SE in coproduction with J&J Jakubisko Film Europe Production Slovakia and JOJ TV.
Other important films produced in 2019 include People of Blood / Lidi krve directed by Miroslav Bambušek and produced by Czech FreeSaM in coproduction with Germany’s Jana Cisar Filmproduktion, the Czech Television and Slovakia’s atelier.doc; Brothers / Bratři directed by Tomáš Mašín and produced by Czech FilmBrigade in coproduction with the Czech Television, Germany’s Rohfilm Productions and Slovakia’s PubRes; Nightsiren / Světlonoc directed by Tereza Nvotová and produced by Czech moloko film and Slovak BFilm in coproduction with France’s Senorita Films; I Don´t Like You Anymore / Už tě nemám rád directed by Zdeněk Jiráský and produced by Czech i/o post in coproduction with Romania’s Tangaj Production and Slovenia’s Staragara.
Among feature films produced in 2019 there are also: Havel directed by Slávek Horák and produced by Tvorba Films in coproduction with the Czech Television; Bohdan Sláma´s Shadow Country / Krajina ve stínu, produced by Luminar film in coproduction with the Czech TV; the children film Martin and the Forest Secret / Mazel a tajemství lesa directed by Petr Oukropec and produced by Czech BFilms in coproduction with Poland’s Wajda Studio and Germany‘s Leitwolf Filmproduktion; The Last Race / Poslední závod directed by Tomáš Hodan and produced by Punk Film; the debut feature The Pack / Smečka directed by Tomáš Polenský and produced by Czech 8Heads Productions in coproduction with Latvia’s EgoMedia, Moss &Roy, IS Produkce, Sleepwalker and Magiclab from the Czech Republic; Zátopek directed by David Ondříček and produced by Lucky Man Films; Grand Prix directed by Jan Prušinovský and produced by Offside Men; Bourák directed by Ondřej Trojan and produced by T.H.A.; the Czech/Slovak coproduction Droneman / Modelář directed by Petr Zelenka and produced by Czech 0.7 km films in coproduction with the Czech Television, Hangar Films, Slovakia´s Punkchart Films and Slovenia’s Fabula.
A total of 62 new domestic feature films and documentaries and four long animated films were theatrically released during 2019, compared to 70 in 2018 (of which two were animated films).
The list of comedies successfully distributed in Czech cinemas in 2019 includes Women on the Run / Ženy v běhu directed by Martin Horský, produced by Infinity Prague, coproduced and released by Cinemart; The Last Aristocrat / Poslední aristokratka directed by Jiří Vejdělek, produced by Evolution Films in coproduction with CertiCon, the Czech Television, Hangar Films, Innogy, PubRes, and distributed by Falcon, with 436,952 admissions; and LOVEhunt / LOVEní directed by Karel Janák, produced by Bontonfilm Studios and Love Frame, and distributed by Bontonfilm, with 151,595 admissions.
The Painted Bird by Václav Marhoul was selected as Czech Republic’s candidate for the 92nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award in the Best International Feature Film category. The film is the first majority Czech coproduction selected for the main competition of the Venice Film Festival (2019) in 25 years and it was also selected for the Special Presentations section of the 44th Toronto IFF (5-15 September 2019).
The film was also screened in London, Warsaw, Tokyo and Chicago, where the jury awarded the work of the cinematographer Vladimír Smutný. The film has already been sold to the USA and Canada. International sales are handled by the French company Celluloid Dreams.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
The year 2019 was exceptionally successful for Czech cinemas, with total admissions of 18,319,471 and net revenues of 104,060,594 EUR / 2,616,603,639 CZK, with a year-on-year increase of 1,974,988 admissions and 13,826,248 EUR / 347,661,016 CZK.
The average ticket price in 2019 was 5.68 EUR.
There are eight distribution companies in the Czech Republic with a market share of over 1%.
In 2019, Falcon with 35.7% market share replaced CinemArt, which was at the top last year. Its market share in 2019 was 33.7%. Vertical Entertainment (Freeman) ranked third with 13.2%, followed by Bontonfilm with 5% market share.
The most attended film in Czech cinemas was the Czech comedy Women on the Run / Ženy v běhu directed by Martin Horský and distributed by CinemArt, with 1,543,842 admissions and 8,428,122 EUR / 211,925,133 CZK gross.
In 2019 the attendance in multiplexes, counting 247 screens and 42,735 seats, reached a market share of 62.5%. The largest multiplex cinema operators are Cinema City and Cine Star.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The main tool for public support of Czech cinema is the Czech Film Fund. The funding is granted in 10 areas: development, production, distribution, technological development, promotion, publications, education and training, protection, preservation and access to film heritage, festivals and film events and protection of rights to cinematographic works.
The Fund, through its division, the Czech Film Center, represents and promotes Czech cinema and film industry and increases the awareness of Czech film worldwide. It also supports the activities of film offices in the Czech Republic through its division Czech Film Commission, helping Czech and foreign filmmakers to shoot in various regions of the country.
In 2019, the Czech Film Fund issued a total of 29 calls for domestic grants with a total funding of 14,098,809 EUR / 340.5 m CZK, of which 11,169,693 EUR / 267.5 m CZK was earmarked for Czech film development and production of all film genres, including minority coproductions.
Among the important feature films supported in 2019 there are: Brothers / Bratři directed by Tomáš Mašín and produced by FilmBrigade, with 576,923 EUR / 15 m CZK; Nightsiren / Světlonoc directed by Tereza Nvotová and produced by Moloko Film, with 384,615 EUR / 10 m CZK; Slovo (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia) directed by Beata Parkanová and produced by LOVE FRAME and Bontofilm Studios in coproduction with KIJORA Film and DNA production, with 326,923 EUR / 8.5 m CZK; Tancuj Matyldo (Czech Republic, Slovakia) directed by Petr Slavík and produced by Nataša Slavíková in coproduction with Virus Film, with 307,629 EUR / 8 m CZK; People of Blood / Lidi krve directed by Miroslav Bambušek and produced by FreeSaM, with 288,461 EUR / 7.5 m CZK, Nobody Likes Me / Nikdo mě nemá rád directed by Tomáš Weinreb and Petr Kazda, and produced by Black Balance, with 269,230 EUR / 7 m CZK; I Don´t Like You Anymore / Už tě nemám rád directed by Zdeněk Jiráský and produced by i/o post, with 192,307 EUR / 5 m CZK; Hrana zlomu directed by Emil Křižka and produced by Bionaut, with 115,384 EUR / 3 m CZK.
The Czech Film Fund also administrates production incentives for film and TV productions shooting in the Czech Republic. The incentives are granted in the form of a 20% cash rebate on Czech production costs and 66% on the withholding tax on non-resident labour costs paid in the Czech Republic. The incentives are available for feature, animated and documentary films, TV and animation series, including postproduction. Maximum eligible costs are set at 80% of the total budget, there is no cap on the incentive per project or per applicant. The application can be submitted at any time of the year. The Czech Film Fund is currently trying to increase the rebate to 25%. A total of 50 m EUR / 1.3 billion CZK was allocated in the incentive programme in 2019. For eligibility criteria and application process, check the Czech Film Commission’s website.
The incentives allocated in 2019 include the fantasy series The Wheel of Time (6,231,000 EUR / 162 m CZK) directed by Uta Biesewitz, produced by Sony Pictures and Amazon, and serviced by Partnership Pictures, with 69 shooting days in the Czech Republic in 2019 (shooting will continue in 2020 with 150 shooting days in total); the second season of Carnival Row (9.5 m EUR / 247 m CZK), produced by Amazon with Stillking Features servicing (42 days in 2019, 106 in total); the comedy series Miracle Workers (3 m EUR / 78 m CZK), produced by TBS with Stillking Films servicing (44 shooting days); the drama series Shadowplay (4,307,690 EUR / 112 m CZK), produced by ZDF and serviced by Film United, with 90 shooting days; the family film A Boy Called Christmas (2,961,540 EUR / 77 m CZK), produced by Netflix and serviced by Czech Anglo Productions, with 55 shooting days; the adaptation of the bestseller Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof ZOO (2,076,923 EUR / 54 m CZK), a series produced by Amazon and serviced by Wilma Film, with more than 100 shooting days.
Also benefiting from the rebates in 2019 were: the German series produced by Netflix Tribes of Europa (1,615,385 EUR / 42 m CZK), serviced by Mia Film, with 82 shooting days; the UK family series The Letter for the King (2,153,846 EUR / 56 m CZK) produced by Netflix, serviced by Unit and Sofa, with 70 shooting days; the Austrian series Freud (1,480,769 EUR / 38.5 m CZK) directed by Marvin Kren, produced by Netflix and serviced by Mia Film, with 86 shooting days.
Rebates were also given to a broad range of coproductions such as Shadow of my Eyes (692,308 EUR / 18 m CZK) directed by Ole Bornedal and coproduced by Sirena Film, with more than 30 shooting days in 2019; the coproduction series Atlantic Crossing (1,653,846 EUR / 43 m CZK) directed by Alexander Eik and coproduced by Sirena Film, with almost 100 shooting days; the coproduction series Das Boot 2 (2,557,692 EUR / 66,5 m CZK), produced by Bavaria Fiction in coproduction with Stillking Features, with 104 shooting days. Production incentives were also used by AGC Studios for the postproduction of the sci-fi film Voyagers (423,076 EUR / 11 m CZK) directed by Neil Burger. The postproduction was made by U Film.
One of the important supporters of Czech film is Innogy, which coproduced several important new films, including Petr Zelenka´s Droneman and David Ondříček´s Zátopek, and which supports the Karlovy Vary IFF, the Czech Critics´ Awards and the Czech Lions.
The Prague Film Fund supports Czech and international films and TV series shot in Prague, where the city plays itself. In 2019 the fund supported, among others, Charlatan by Agnieszka Holland, Zátopek by David Ondříček and the documentary Mucha: The Story of an Artist Who Created Style directed by David Vávra and produced by Punk Film in coproduction with maximfilm (DE), the Czech Television and ARTE.
The major TV companies in the Czech Republic are NOVA group, the Czech Television and PRIMA group.
The Czech Television currently runs six channels: CT1, CT2, CT24, CT sport, CT:D and CT Art.
NOVA group channels include NOVA, NOVA 2, NOVA Cinema, NOVA Action, NOVA Gold, NOVA Sport and NOVA Sport 2.
Prima group consists of Prima Family, Prima COOL, Prima LOVE, Prima ZOOM, Prima MAX and Prima Comedy and Prima Crime.
Seznam TV is among the fast growing Internet TVs in the Czech Republic, also producing its own original programmes, including popular internet series.
The TV stations make their programmes also available on the Internet, thus reaching a larger audience. TV NOVA has its video library Voyo.cz, Prima group runs PrimaPlay.cz, while the Czech TV offers its programmes via iVysílání.cz.
The most attended VOD portals in the Czech Republic are Stream.cz, HBO Go and Netflix. Specialised documentary VOD service is provided by DAFilms.cz.
The market for TV advertising is dominated by Nova and Prima (90%), while advertising on the Czech Television is limited to the minimum by the law. The television is traditionally the strongest advertising medium in the country.
Television stations play a large role in the production of quality content for local film and TV productions. The Czech TV is a permanent partner of the Czech cinema, with its in-house production sector Film Center, coproducing increasing numbers of feature films. Czech TV is also a coproducer of almost all documentaries released in Czech cinemas.
Among the film projects coproduced by the public Czech Television in 2019 are the already mentioned feature films: Old Timers directed by Ondřej Provazník and Martin Dušek, Prague Orgy directed by Irena Pavlásková, Droneman directed by Petr Zelenka, Shadow Country directed by Bohdan Sláma, People of Blood directed by Miroslav Bambušek, Bourák directed by Ondřej Trojan, Zátopek directed by David Ondříček and Grand Prix directed by Jan Prušinovský.
Among important TV projects produced by the public television in 2019 there are: the Czech/Polish coproduction series Princip slasti directed by Dariusz Jabłoński, the miniseries Jak si nepodělat život directed by Tereza Kopáčová and the TV series Sever directed by Robert Sedláček.
Also in 2019, HBO Europe produced the original Czech series Bez vědomí directed by Ivan Zachariáš.
PRAGUE FILM FUND Mariánské náměstí 2/2, 110 00 Praha 1 www.praguefilmfund.eu
ASSOCIATION OF CZECH ANIMATION FILM Heřmanova 3, Prague http://en.asaf.cz/
Report by Denisa Strbova (2020) Sources: the Czech Film Fund, the Czech Film Center, the Czech Film Commission, the Film Distributor´s Union, the Czech Television