Czech Film Production Rests On Shaky Ground

Wobbly is the best word to describe the current state of Czech production, repped at the Berlinale by a single work, Wiktor Grodecki’s male prostitute docu “Not Angels But Angels.” The pic, showing in Panorama, previously unspooled at last year’s Karlovy Vary fest.

Hopes are high here for “Ride,” an experimental, ultra-low-budget road pic by the country’s hottest young director, Jan Sverak (“Elementary School”). The movie follows three Czech Generation-Xers grappling with life in the ideological void of a society in post-revolutionary transition. Sverak’s latest effort is heavy on dialogue, with pic’s many adlibs, one-takes and quick lensing complementing its message.

Last year was forecast to be a thin one for Czech production, but the country still cranked out more than 15 features, more than bigger-and-richer lands such as the Netherlands. Though mavens here predict a wobbly year for 1995, a repeat of the same numbers wouldn’t be a surprise, industryites say.

The local production trend is toward two extremes – commercially viable English-lingo co-prods or cheap home-targeted material ($500,000 budget range), capable of recouping costs on native turf. In theory this should spell a decline in the number of quality local-lingo pix, but the Czechs are adept at making do with less.

Pix being shopped to fests include director Milan Steindler’s “I Thank You for Each New Morning,” a profile of the changes in Czechoslovak society after the 1968 Soviet invasion, and “The Dance Teacher,” a drama about a dancer’s battle with TB, directed by Jaromil Jires.

Biggest buzz for pix in production goes to “War of the Colors,” a psycho-thriller directed by up-and-comer Filip Reno.

This year also will see several debuts by young talent. Advance word is good on Miro Sindelka, who’s helming the Czech-Slovak co-prod “Passionate Kiss.”

Names such as Sverak and vet Jiri Menzel, who had pics unspooled in 1994, are either waiting on new scripts or fresh coin before starting new movies later this year. Sverak, whose scribe dad, Zdenek, is penning scripts for both filmers, says of the coming year: “I’m not expecting anything. I’m lucky to have the money for the next film and to have a script I like.”

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