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Gas company funds Czech films

RWE Transgas plan is worth $1.4 million

MOSCOW — Czech filmmakers and producers were celebrating this week after gas company RWE Transgas announced movie sponsorship plans for 2008 worth nearly $1.4 million.

The Czech gas supplier, a subsidiary of Germany’s RWE Group, said it would continue to support arthouse features, documentaries and new projects by leading Czech directors in a sponsorship program first launched two years ago.

The news is welcome relief to filmmakers in the central European state where long and protracted talks continue with government officials to create a new film law that producers hope will encourage production through tax breaks and better use of public funds, as found in neighboring territories such as Hungary and Poland.

Popular director Jan Hrebejk, whose past hits include last year’s “Beauty in Trouble” and 2004’s race-relations drama “Up and Down,” will receive around $166,000 toward his new comedy, “True Love,” based on a novel by Czech writer Michal Viewegh.

Vaclav Marhoul, who is filming an ambitious World War II drama “Tobruk,” about the key Allied-German battle in the Libyan desert, will also receive a grant of $166,000, RWE Transgas said.

Other films that will be supported include Zdenek Troska’s big budget fairytale, “The Most Beautiful Riddle,” and Vladimir Michalek’s “About Parents and Children.”

Past recipients of RWE Transgas grants include Hrebejk’s latest movie, “Teddy Bear” and David Ondricek’s acclaimed “Grandhotel.”

Martin Chalupsky, head of press and PR at RWE Trangas in Prague, Thursday said: “Supporting Czech films is RWE’s most important project in the Czech Republic.”

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