Documentary Filmmakers to Have First Nominees at Czech Lion Awards
Documentary films at Czech Lion Awards
On Friday night, the nomination ceremony organized by the Czech Film and Television Academy will include a brand new category. For the very first time, candidates for the Best Documentary Film in 2008 will be among the nominees announced. A total of 12 Czech documentary films are in contention for the inaugural award. “After fifteen years of being overlooked, Czech documentary film surely deserves the award. The statuette will be a great help to local filmmakers; awarded films are more talked about and get bigger audiences, at the same time, it will also be motivation for them not to settle with television but to go for theatre release from the very outset,“ explains Andrea Prenghyová, Institute of Documentary Film (IDF). IDF along with the Audiovisual Producers’ Association have long pushed for the introduction of a standard Czech Lion Award for best documentary film. However, Prenghyová adds: “Unlike feature or animated films, documentary films will not be awarded in individual professions, in directing, cinematography or editing.”
Twelve films that will compete for the inaugural Czech Lion Award for Best Documentary Film in 2008 meet all necessary requirements, i.e., they have a running time over 50 minutes and they were released in cinemas: Citizen Havel by Miroslav Janek and the late Pavel Koutecký; René by Helena Třeštíková; Czech RAPublic, a hip hop documentary by Pavel Abrahám; Ivetka and the Mountain, the winner of the Best Czech Documentary Film at the 12th Jihlava IDFF; Jana Ševčíková’s Gyumri about Armenia’s disastrous earthquake; A Town Called Hermitage by Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník; Lukáš Přibyl’s Forgotten Transports to Belarus, Estonia and Latvia; A Ghetto Called Baluty by Pavel Štingl and Adolf Zika’s Jan Saudek. The Czech Film Press Award will be presented to either Citizen Havel, René or Czech RAPublic.
At the nomination ceremony, three best documentary films made from 1993 to 2007 will also be given a belated recognition. “We are glad that we can use this opportunity to repay, at least in part, our debt to documentary films that couldn't compete in the past,“ says producer Pavel Strnad. Out of 39 documentary films that did not get a chance to participate – though they did meet all the requirements set by the Czech Lion Awards regulations – a jury selected 12 films that were screened to the members of the Academy. Director Olga Sommerová will present the award to three best films at the nomination ceremony on Friday, January 30.
Success of Czech docs as seen by Eva Zaoralová of the Karlovy Vary IFF and others
Undoubtedly, the introduction of the documentary category was prompted by the successful run of documentaries in 2008, with a record eleven documentary films released in Czech cinemas. According the the Union of Film Distributors, only four documentaries were released In 2007, and 7 documentaries in 2006. The box office achievement was equally astounding. In 2008, almost 157,000 people saw new Czech documentary releases. The situation is exceptional thanks to the phenomenal success of Citizen Havel that grabbed more than 130,000 cinemagoers and broke all records both in cinemas and on television. When Nova TV ran the film, it managed to draw more than a million and a half viewers, becoming the most viewed and most successful documentary film in the post-1989 history of Czech film. Czech RAPublic finished second at the box office, with 10,000 cinemagoers only a month after its opening in November.
“If we were just to browse the catalogues of dozens of European and North American festivals, we would find out that Czech documentary films are more at home there than features and that they are given a lot of attention. The recent Prix ARTE for Best European Documentary Film given to René is, after a very long time, the first siginificant success of Czech cinema and it is certainly not an accident,” says Eva Zaoralová, programming director of the Karlovy Vary IFF.
Moreover, two Czech documentaries were nominated for Prix ARTE in the category of Best European Documentary Film. Along with René, Citizen Havel also made it on the shortlist. No Czech feature film has yet been able to come close to René’s success with the European Film Academy. Over the course of the year, Czech documentaries scored at a number of other international events, too. At the CPH:DOX, Citizen Havel won the award organized by DOC Alliance, an association of five major European festivals and it was nominated for the LUX Cinema Prize of the European Parliament. Jana Ševčíková’s Gyumri has also enjoyed a successful festival season, reaping the Award for Best Documentary Film at the Rome IFF. Peace with Seals by Miroslav Novák received the Grand Prix at China’s Guangzhou IDFF; the documentary project Daughters of the Enemy received the Golden Star Award from the European Commission.
”It is mainly the emerging Czech documentary filmmakers who are viewed as a breath of fresh air at European festivals. People have come to expect innovative and provocative films from them that offer a cheeky commentary on current social issues. The ground was broken by Czech Dream,” says Andrea Prenghyová from the Institute of Documentary Film. Let us not forget achievements at Czech festivals. The Kristián Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2008 Febiofest was handed out to Jan Šikl for Private Century. The 12th Jihlava IDFF awarded Vít Janeček’s Ivetka and the Mountain as the Best Czech Documentary Film; the Audience Award went to René. Citizen Havel was also the winner at Finále Plzeň. In 2008 documentary filmmakers saw beneficial changes in another contested field, too. After years of occupying ranks with countries that have the lowest support for cinema, the State Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography finally approached a normal, considerably improved the situation for documentary films and boosted their chance for theatrical release.
Czech documentary films in 2009
In 2009, several anticipated documentary films are already scheduled to hit the cinemas. Radar – Czech Peace by Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák, authors of the documentary mystification Czech Dream will open in June. In addition to Radar, audiences can look forward to the new documentary Welcome to North Korea by Linda Jablonská, the director of Left, Right Forward that will be released at the end of February. 68 by American director Michael Wong, developed in Czech production, captures the stories of six people in 1968. This year, the following will be among the new documentary releases: Martin Mareček’s Auto*Mat, Nazi Science by Pavel Štingl, or the Short Long Journey by Martin Hanzlíček. Documentary gems are slated for release in Autumn 2009 with the release of six short documentaries by Czech and German directors on the subject of time, developed within Breathless – Dominance of the Moment. Czech participation will include films by Jan Gogola, Margareta Hruza and Karel Žalud.
12 Czech documentary films that met the requirements of the Czech Lion Awards
Czech RAPublic by Pavel Abrahám
A Ghetto Called Baluty by Pavel Štingl
Gyumri by Jana Ševčíková
Ivetka and the Mountain by Vít Janeček
Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek
Jan Saudek by Adolf Zika
A Town Called Hermitage by Ondřej Provazník and Martin Dušek
René by Helena Třeštíková
Rozpomínání na zrcadlení by Ivan Vojnár
Forgotten Transports to Belarus by Lukáš Přibyl
Forgotten Transports to Estonia by Lukáš Přibyl
Forgotten Transports to Latvia by Lukáš Přibyl
Note: According to the Union of Film Distributors, Jan Saudek by Adolf Zika opened December 20, 2007 in 3 copies, after that January 3, 2008 (a total of 13 copies) so that IDF assumed the film did not belong under 2008. According to the Czech Film and Television Academy, the film is included under 2008.
3 best documentary films made in 1993-2007 will also be awarded, selected from the following nominations:
Bohemia Docta by Karel Vachek
Czech Dream by Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák
Dust Games by Martin Mareček
God’s Stone Quarry by Břetislav Rychlík
Marcela by Helena Třeštíková
Unseen by Miroslav Janek
Nonstop by Jan Gogola
Searching for Ester Věra Chytilová
Nicholas Winton – The Power of Good by Matěj Mináč
The Rite of Spring by Jana Ševčíková
Lost Holiday by Lucie Králová
Beauty Exchange by Erika Hníková
Partner of the nomination showcase is Rádio 1.
For eight years, the Institute of Documentary Film has been providing comprehensive support for Czech documentary film. On a regular basis, IDF organizes seminars, workshops and panels while creating and maintaining a thorough database on Czech and European documentary film. If you would like to receive more information regarding cinema attendance, television ratings, funding or festival presence of Czech documentary films in 2008, please visit www.DOKweb.net or get in touch with us.
Media Partner for Czech Lion nominations: Rádio 1.