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Czech films permeate Berlin

Relationships between fest, reps pay off

With a pic in every section of the Berlinale, Czech cinema is on a roll.

Jiri Menzel’s “I Served the King of England” is screening in Competition, the first Czech pic to be selected for that category since Menzel’s 1990 Berlinale winner “Larks on a String.” David Ondricek’s “Grandhotel” is in Panorama and Petr Nikolaev’s “It Gonna Get Worse” made it into the Forum.

Furthermore, Vlasta Pospisiolva’s “Three Sisters and One Ring” and Jan Balej “The Sea, Uncle, Why Is It Salty”?” are screening in Generation.

“It’s because we’ve been building on contacts with the festivals for years now and every year we invite representatives from the Berlinale to Prague and screen Czech films,” explained Jana Czernik of the Czech Film Center the development.

“After the fall of the Iron Curtain, we had to start all over again and build new relations with the festivals. That took time, but now you’re starting to see the results,” John Riley, a rep for various Czech producers, added.

And while Czech filmmakers receive very little in the way of state funding, the industry is managing on its own.

“The success of the Czech film industry really goes back to the initiative of private individuals, and we’re currently in talks with the government to introduce measures that will make sure that the Czech industry will maintain its strength,” Ludmilla Claussova of the Czech Film Center said.

A tax incentive has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, but Czech production services have been fighting off low-cost rivals from Bulgaria and Romania and continue to attract high-profile U.S. and Western European productions.

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