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TV money shapes Czech films

Critics cry foul but broadcasters look for hits, then art

TV coin helps shape and sustain Czech film — more than in much of the region — and not always to its benefit, according to critics.

The state-run behemoth that is Czech TV — with nearly $40 million of its $447 million budget for film funding and digitalization — remains the major player in the country.

The pubcaster has more to offer, of course, in the form of technical assistance and broadcast promotion, and airtime — some 20 or more of the 35 features produced in the country annually are typically backed by the state network.

Vojtech Rynda, a critic for the Czech daily Lidove Noviny, says the pubcaster, possibly in pursuit of ratings, tends to support all comers without “actively supporting films of a more artistic quality. … All filmmakers complain about it, but in the end they have to accept it.”

The two private Czech terrestrials, TV Nova and Prima TV, are also active players, although Nova is the one accused of perpetuating eye candy over culture.

But, points out Nova program director David Stogel, the station routinely funds pics that have also had Cinematography Fund backing, which entails cultural criteria, and gives them — unlike the practice typical at other nets — a year or more to do what they can at cinemas before airing.

The station takes pride in picking up critically praised work such as Berlin Panorama player “Kawasaki’s Rose” from Jan Hrebejk — pics that may seem “not a Nova film,” says Stogel.

Local pics remain a bargain for terrestrials.

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