Czech Oscar choice tops domestic charts


    Renowned Czech director Jiří Menzel´s film I Served the King of England, the country's entry for best foreign-language film at the Academy awards in February, is also the hottest-selling domestic picture, according to the Czech Film Center (www.filmcenter.cz).

    Based on Bohumil Hrabal's best-selling novel of the same name, the film has been sold to more than 30 countries.

    Menzel´s film, whose domestic premiere was in December 2006, was panned by domestic critics but made it to the main competition section of the Berlinale in February where it gained the praise of international journalists.

    The second best-selling film in the first nine months of 2007, Empties by Jan Svěrák (http://www.sverak.cz)/, was another sleeper. Empties was relegated by domestic critics to the limited fate of a typical home-grown Czech film but was a hit at the recent Toronto Film Festival, where its tale of joys and sorrows was clearly understood by people from around the globe. Empties was sold to 12 countries and more buys are expected after Toronto.

    Third place is jointly held by The Bitch´s Diary by Irena Pavlásková (http://www.starlite.cz/) and the animated puppet film One Night, One City by Jan Balej (http://www.ječdnenoci.cz/).

    Film sales clearly show a stable interest of foreign buyers in Czech animation film and in films made by renowned directors who are also favourites at home.

    A festival presence for Czech films is extremely important as such a showcase is often the only international release for them. At international festivals, leading Czech films to date are: One Night, One City, which has been shown at 32 international festivals; Beauty in Trouble by Jan Hřebejk, shown at 21 festivals, and I Served the King of England. Other interesting festival entries are also Grandhotel by David Ondříček, Pleasant Moments by Věra Chytilová and surprisingly, the esoteric allegory film Marta made by debuting filmmaker Marta Nováková.