Czech awards gives top honors to Menzel film

“I Served the King of England” was crowned with four kudos at the Czech Lions Mar. 3, restoring a measure of glory to Oscar-winning helmer Jiri Menzel (“Closely Watched Trains,” 1966), and reviving hopes for a strong Czech feature for export.

Few such previous best picture and helmer winners have done much beyond the arthouse circuit in the West but “King,” which also won the cinematography kudo for Jaromir Sofr’s lensing of Czechoslovakia from pre-war days to communism, is hoped to travel well.

As the first Czech contender at the Berlinale in 17 years, pic, an adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal’s picaresque, has created much anticipation in the otherwise financially beleaguered local industry.

A fellow member of the Czech New Wave of the ’60s with Menzel, Vera Chytilova, struck out at the Lions with her tale of psychotherapy and longing, “Pleasant Moments Without Guarantees,” though her editor, Jiri Brozek took a crystal lion.

Another film carrying high hopes locally, Jan Hrebejk’s story of a bad girl who does well, “Beauty in Trouble,” scored only perf kudos, for Ana Geislerova, Jiri Schmitzer and Jana Brejchov.

The third strong contender was “Grandhotel,” a comedic character piece set in a rural resort by David Ondricek, who has won auds but not Lions in the past with such work (“One Hand Can’t Clap,” 2003, “Loners,”

2000, and “Whisper,” 1996) but managed only music and sound kudos this time around.

The growing ranks of teen sex comedies such as “Rafters” and “Virginity Sucks” seem to have petered out with the Czech Film and Television Academy voters, though the former did pick up a best attended special prize.

The much-watched Lions broadcast on Czech TV offered the station a rare bright spot in a season that’s seen the pubcaster’s top execs caught up in ongoing scandals over their admitted past roles in the

pre-1989 regime.

And the winners are:

Film
“I Served the King of England”

Director
Jiri Menzel.
“I Served the King of England”

Screenplay
Robert Sedlacek.
“Power of Lies”

Cinematography
Jaromir Sofr ,
“I Served the King of England”

Editing
Jiri Brozek.
“Pleasant Moments Without Guarantees”

Music
Jan P. Muchow,
“Grandhotel”

Sound
Pavel Rejholec, Jakub Cech,
“Grandhotel”

Art direction
Jan Balej, Pavel Koutsky, Petr Pos, Martin Velisek,
“Fimfarum 2″

Actor
Jiri Schmitzer,
“Beauty in Trouble”

Supporting actor
Martin Huba,
“I Served the King of England”

Actress
Ana Geislerova,
“Beauty in Trouble”

Supporting Actress
Jana Brejchov,
“Beauty in Trouble”

Lifetime artistic contribution
Ivan Passer

Best attended
“Rafters”

Sazka prize for script development
Tereza Bouckova.
“In Sight of Heaven on Earth”

Actor

Jiri Schmitzer – “Beauty in Trouble”

Supporting actor

Martin Huba – “I Served the King of England”

Actress

Ana Geislerova – “Beauty in Trouble”

Supporting Actress

Jana Brejchov – “Beauty in Trouble”

Lifetime artistic contribution

Ivan Passer

Best attended

“Rafters”

Sazka prize for script development

Tereza Bouckova – “In Sight of Heaven on Earth”

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