Younger helmers frolic at Finale

Vaclav's 'Parallel Worlds' takes top prize

PLZEN, Czech Republic — Czechs like to take you unawares. To wit: three Oscar nominations and one golden statue in the best foreign film category in the past eight years.

And so, in judging the current state of Czech film at the Finale film festival (held April 23-29 in Plzen), better to look at who didn’t have a film in the national competition this year. The list includes Jan Sverak (who won his Oscar for “Kolya”), Jan Hrebejk (nominated this year for “Divided We Fall”), and fest favorites Sasa Gedeon (“Return of the Idiot”) and Petr Zelenka (“Buttoners”).

That left the field clear for another Velvet Generation director (as the young helmers have taken to dubbing themselves), Petr Vaclav, to share the festival’s top prize for his study of a relationship between two young professionals, “Parallel Worlds.” Fest programmers in attendance predicted that the film, which opened last month in Prague, will be headed for the fest circuit.

Also receiving the best film honor was veteran Czech surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer, whose film “Otesanek” has already been screened at festivals.