PRAGUE — The bloody medieval battle in the biggest-budget film in Slovak history, “Bathory,” is starting to look like just a warm-up amid contentions over the country’s Oscar entry.
The Slovak Film and Television Academy has forwarded Juraj Lehotsky’s docu “Blind Loves,” about the romantic lives of four sightless people, for consideration as best foreign-language pic, despite predictions by “Bathory” producer Deana Horvathova that her mini-epic about a notorious bloodthirsty countess would compete in L.A.
The Slovak board, arguing that “Bathory” only met one condition of the definition of a Slovak production, that its director and scribe are Slovak, has defended its choice.
Horvathova, who also performs in the pic, insists that the production is the more merit-worthy, having racked up nearly 1.5 million viewers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It’s an impressive level of box office in the small theatrical markets. Jan Sverak’s domestic comedy “Empties,” the major Czech hit of last year, set a national record there with 1.2 million.
Ales Danielis of distrib BontonFilm argues that “Bathory,” which was helmed by Juraj Jakubisko and stars Anna Friel as the countess, represented a more realistic shot at an Oscar than Slovakia has had in a long time.
“Bathory,” a Czech/Slovak/Hungarian/U.K. co-production, was shot in four languages on various locations in Central Europe for $18.3 million and later dubbed into English, Czech and Slovak versions.
“Blind Loves” won critical acclaim at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary fest this summer, along with a berth at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight.