CFC Presented Czech Cinema in Conjunction with Czech EU Presidency

    Prague, 1 July 2009 - Every year, in anticipation of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Film Center takes a moment to summarize its activities over the last twelve months. In 2008/2009, Czech Film Center, which has been operating for eight years running, organized a number of important Czech film tours and festivals abroad (four of which were held in conjunction with the Czech Presidency of the EU), represented the country's cinema at the film markets in Berlin and in Cannes, and continued its traditional publishing activities (for example, its annual Catalog of Czech Films, DVD of Czech Films and brochures for upcoming projects).

    The 33rd Polish Film Festival was held in Gdynia, Poland, in September 2008. As the visiting foreign cinema at this annual national film festival, nine Czech movies were screened (Citizen Havel, Fimfárum 2, The Loveliest Riddle, Václav, ...It's Gonna Get Worse, Dolls, Teddy Bear, Grapes, Little Girl Blue), whereas the letter three were purchased by Polish distributor Viverto and subsequently distributed in Poland. Included in the festival's competition was screenwriter and director Petr Zelenka's Czech-Polish film The Karamazovs, which was presented by a delegation consisting of Zelenka and starring actor Ivan Trojan. Czech film producer Rudolf Biermann sat on the jury. As part of the program, a conference about Czech cinema and the possibilities of Czech-Polish co-production projects, "Like in Czech Film," was held with Czech producers participating. The showcase of Czech films and the debate were organized by Czech Film Center in cooperation with the national festival of Polish films.

    At the 13th International Film Festival in Pusan, South Korea, in October 2008, two Czech movies, Michaela Pavlátová's intimate drama Night Owls and Helena Třeštíková's feature-length documentary René, were presented by the attending filmmakers (screenwriter Irena Hejdová and director Třeštíková). At the coinciding Asian Film Market, Czech Film Center presented contemporary Czech cinema at the stand of the European Film Promotion, which Czech Film Center is a member of.

    The first festival held as part of the recently completed Czech EU Presidency took place in January 2009 at the Norwegian Arctic Circle in Tromsø and was organized by Czech Film Center in cooperation with the Czech Embassy in Oslo. There, over thirteen Czech films were presented. Director Helena Třeštíková's René was screened in the documentary section. In the Horizons section, four new Czech films were shown: A Country Teacher, The Karamazovs, Night Owls and the documentary Citizen Havel. In cooperation with the National Film Archives, there was a retrospective of seven famous Czech films from the sixties (for example, When the Cat Comes, Intimate Lighting, A Blonde in Love). Václav Vorlíčka's comedy Who Wants to Kill Jessie? appeared in the special section entitled Overdrive. And lastly, well-known animated films Krtek and Pat and Mat were featured in a block of cinema for children.

    A touring showcase of Czech films called Made in Prague started on March 6, 2009, in London.
    From there the pictures made their way to thirteen different locations in Great Britain, from England's capitol to Aberdeen, Scotland. The biggest festival of Czech cinema in England culminated two months later, on May 4, and offered eight Czech works: the documentaries René, Citizen Havel, See You in Denver and With Kisses from Your Love (both from the series Private Century) and the features Empties, Teddy Bear, Of Parents and Children and Dolls. This was the second year running that the two-month touring showcase was held in cooperation with the Czech Center in London and the cinema chain Picturehouse Cinema. British audiences watched sixty-one screenings and awarded the movies by directors Jan Svěrák and Jan Hřebejk, who are well-known in Great Britain for their earlier works.

    In the Argentine resort of Pinamar in March 2009,
    the dramas The Karamazovs, directed by Petr Zelenka, and Night Owls, directed by Michaela Pavlátová, were presented in the festival's New Czech Cinema section (Cine Checo de Ultima Hora) and introduced by the Czech filmmakers. The event, arranged by Czech Film Center and the Czech Center in Buenos Aires, followed up on the successful showcase of Czech films held in Buenos Aires in March 2008.

    CZECH-IN pour le cinéma
    tchèque - 1st Czech Film Festival in Paris took place in June 2009 in Paris' L'Entrepôt cinema. It was the first stand-alone festival of Czech films taking place in Paris since 1989. The event offered a cross-section of contemporary Czech cinema made after the Velvet Revolution. Ten titles (Kolya, Return of the Idiot, Some Secrets, Jan Werich's Fimfárum, Zelary, Lunacy, Something Like Happiness, Wrong Side Up, Who's Afraid of the Wolf, and the documentary Citizen Havel) were screened at the festival, which opened with Zelary, a drama directed by Ondřej Trojan, and was introduced to the Paris audience by actress Aňa Geislerová. Representatives of festivals, film institutions and organizations, as well as film distributors and sales agents, were invited to the festival, which was organized by Czech Film Center and the Czech Center in Paris with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. As the event was aimed at offering more new Czech films in French distribution, Czech Film Center had to prepare copies of the films with French subtitles.

    Marketa Šantrochová from Czech Film Center remarked:
    One of Czech Film Center's objectives at such events is to support diversity in the language versions of Czech films, thus expanding the possibilities of where they can be screened and helping them find their audiences. And I am pleased to say that the festival in Paris was received fantastically and was successful.

    Of the events at home, Czech Film Center's participation in the 22nd annual Czech film festival, Finále Plzeň, in April 2009 was key. For the eighth year in row, in cooperation with the Finále Plzeň, Czech Film Center organized the Panel of Upcoming Film Projects. This year, a total of 59 feature and animated projects were presented, including 30 film projects in development, 11 films in production and 18 works in post-production.

    Twenty producers, directors or screenwriters personally presented their projects at the Panel in Pilsen. The presentations of some films in advanced stages of production were accompanied by trailers or excerpts from the films (for example, 3 Seasons in Hell, Foxes, Ties that Bind). This year's Panel was again streamed online. The broadcast was available on the website for the duration of the Panel.

    The assortment of projects at the Panel were rich in both subject matter and genre (including drama, comedy, tragicomedy, fairy tale, horror, thriller, fantasy and this year even family drama, as seen in The Cottage). There were films set in the normalization era (Don't Stop, Eighty Letters, Identity Card, Walking Too Fast, An Earthly Paradise for the Eyes or Two Reports on the Czechoslovak Underground), movies mapping the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Second World War and the Holocaust (Lidice, Protektor, The Terezín Project, The Whispering Game, Regards to Rokycany, Habermann's Mill) and a film recounting the rise of communism (3 Seasons in Hell). Signed beneath the upcoming projects were newcomers (Jitka Rudolfová) as well as filmmakers who made a splash with their debuts and are preparing their next effort (Karin Babinská, Robert Sedláček, Marek Najbrt). Nor were established and famous directors missing from the list (Tomáš Vorel, Irena Pavlásková, Petr Zelenka, Alice Nellis, Jan Balej, Petr Nikolaev, Juraj Herz, Jan Němec, Vojtěch Jasný, Jan Švankmajer or distinguished Polish director Agnieszka Holland and her film adaptation of the Karel Čapek novel War with the Newts).

    Jana Černík, who heads film promotion for Czech Film Center,
    summed up the trends at this year's Panel: Generally speaking, it seems that comedies are in decline and that the film projects are more diverse than they were two years ago. A new generation of filmmakers is emerging while the "old" new wave, e.g., Němec, Jasný, Herz, Švankmajer, is still making movies too. I would also say there is a tendency toward higher budgets.

    Overall, the Panel is a unique event for which we always issue a bilingual brochure summarizing the new projects. The information compiled therein is intended for film professionals and film industry representatives in our country as well as for foreign professionals potentially interested in co-productions with the Czech Republic. Every year the Panel is a meeting point for various groups from the Czech film industry (producers, distributors, directors, etc.), representatives of foreign festivals (Cottbus IFF, San Sebastian IFF, London IFF, Vancouver IFF, etc.) and journalists. The Panel is also a great place for networking.

    Another of Czech Film Center's permanent projects includes representing Czech cinema and the country's film industry at international film festivals - especially the film markets in Berlin and Cannes.
    Joint representation (in Berlin with four other Central European countries and in Cannes with Slovakia) has proven to be effective, and in recent years we have detected an increase in awareness of the Czech Republic' representation at these markets. Even the number of Czech film professionals attending these festivals is rising, thanks in part to the services and facilities Czech Film Center provides in Berlin and Cannes.

    After a long absence, a Czech film for children was selected for the 59th Berlinale in February 2009, where Czech Film Center represented the domestic industry for seventh time. Michaela Procházková's family film Who's Afraid of the Wolf? was screened in the Generation Kplus competition section for children's films. Věra Chytilová's Prefab Story and Jan Švankmajer's short film Dimensions of Dialogue were featured in the Retrospective section.

    Czech cinema garnered success at this year's festival in Cannes in May, in which Czech Film Center participated for the sixth year running. The Czech Republic was represented in the festival's official program, in the Cinéfondation section for film students, by the movie Baba (2008) by screenwriter and director Zuzana Špidlová. This intimate drama won the Cinéfondation top prize - Prix de la Cinéfondation. The award-winning Baba (which also won the best directing prize at FAMUFEST 2008) treats the theme of interpersonal relationships. The sensitively shot story, with precise acting performances, tells of a young girl and her gravely ill 85-year-old grandmother. Zuzana Špidlová is currently preparing her feature debut, which she would like to co-produce with France:

    I am now working on the story for my next movie. The first version of the screenplay should be ready in early September. I would really like to graduate from FAMU with a feature film. I am considering a co-production with France, most of all because the plot of the screenplay I've started to write is set there.

    As in years past in Cannes, Czech Film Center and the European Film Promotion, the institution that promotes European cinema at international festivals and markets, held Producer on the Move - a three-day event promoting young European producers. This year, budding producer Monika Kristl of Dawson Production was chosen from the Czech Republic.

    Publishing is another one of the regular activities conducted by Czech Film Center, which has been operating since 2002. Every year it publishes a catalog and DVD of Czech films as well as brochures with upcoming film projects (the catalog and DVD came out in early 2009, the brochures in April and September 2009).
    The printed catalog, published in a bilingual edition for the ninth year running, contains information about feature films and selected documentaries and short films that premiered in 2008 (the catalog also lists works whose premieres were announced for first half of 2009). The DVD of Czech Films maps out the Czech feature film and documentary scene in 2008. Besides information about each of the movies, it contains trailers and interviews with directors. The catalog and DVD can be used to present Czech cinema both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Another important source of information about upcoming projects is our two brochures: about feature and animated films (issued for the purposes of the Panel during the Finále Plzeň v in April) and documentaries (for a presentation in September in Prague). Both brochures, New Czech Feature and Animated Films and New Czech Documentary Films, are bilingual; the latter publication is issued in collaboration with the Institute of Documentary Film and Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival.

    Czech Film Center is operated by the Czech Film Chamber and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

    For more information about the Czech Film Center's activities, please visit www.filmcenter.cz


    Markéta Šantrochová

    GSM: +420 724 329 948,

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    Mgr. Alice Aronová, Ph.D.

    GSM: +420 603 339 144

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    Last modified on 02-07-2009