Ondricek: Carrying on family tradition

10 Directors to Watch 2013: David Ondricek

Not everyone is a born director, but a few — like helmer David Ondricek — are born into the business. The son of famed cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek, second-generation cinephile David has spent the past two decades writing and directing modest features in his native Czech Republic. This year marks a breakthrough of sorts, since his Cold War thriller “In the Shadow” was tapped to represent his home country in the Oscar foreign-lingo film race. (His dad was nominated twice, for lensing “Ragtime” and “Amadeus.”)

“My father taught me that you have to make films very realistic,” Ondricek says. “It’s my mantra: Don’t make any artificial things.”

A paternal influence can be found throughout the director’s life: His Lucky Man Films production outfit is named for one of his dad’s first non-Czech assignments, “O Lucky Man!” One of several seeds for his interest in film was planted on his childhood trip to the set of another project his dad lensed, “The World According to Garp.” And the basis for his latest, most acclaimed work came from the elder Ondricek’s suggestion to make a film about currency devaluation in post-WWII Prague.

Popular on Variety

Combining detective fiction and film noir, Ondricek’s film touches on real events of personal significance to his family. “After financial devaluation, we lost everything,” he recalls. “I’m part of the last generation who lived through communism, and I never forgot the feeling from that time. It was terrible — no freedom of expression.”

“Shadow” is a departure for Ondricek, who has mostly worked on comedies, most notably the 2000 local hit “Loners.” He plans to return to the genre for his next feature, followed by a biopic of 1950s Czech Olympic legend Emil Zatopek. But he notes that they could easily be postponed for the right U.S. project, preferably one that allows him to shoot in Europe.

Homebase: Prague
Inspired by: His father, Miroslav, and longtime collaborator Milos Forman (“They are my biggest teachers”), Ivan Passer, Stanley Kubrick and “Garp” director George Roy Hill
Rep: Krystof Mucha (producer and exec director, Karlovy Vary Film Festival)

More Film


    Beta Cinema Celebrates ‘Karnawal’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Beta Cinema has acquired international sales rights to debut Argentine director Juan Pablo Félix’s “Karnawal,” winner of the Le Film Français, Ciné Plus, Gomedia and Titrafilm awards at December’s Ventana Sur. “Karnawal” featured co-producers from five countries: Argentina’s Bikini Films, Brazil’s 3 Moinhos Produçoes, Chile’s Picardía Films, Mexico’s Phototaxia Pictures, Norway’s Norsk Filmproduksjon and Bolivia’s [...]

  • Italian Xmas movie

    Italy's True Colours Scores Slew of Early EFM Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italian sales company True Colours has scored multiple sales at the EFM on several titles including Christmas comedy “Once Upon a Time in Bethlehem,” which was Italy’s top-grossing domestic title in 2019. “Bethlehem,” which scored roughly $17 million domestically, toplines comic duo Ficarra and Picone as a thief and a priest who time-travel to Palestine [...]

  • All-the-dead-ones

    Caetano Gotardo, Marco Dutra Talk Berlin Competition Entry ‘All the Dead Ones’

    Directed by Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra, Brazilian Berlin competition entry “All the Dead Ones” kicks off in Belle Epoque 1899 São Paulo. Ana, the daughter of a plantation owner and her nun sister attempt persuade a reluctant Ina, a former slave, to perform an ancient African ritual to cure their mother. A time warp [...]

  • The Daughter

    Caramel, Mod, Film Factory Unveil Manuel Martin Cuenca’s ‘The Daughter’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Caramel Films has boarded Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “The Daughter,” produced by Fernando Bovaira (“The Others” ) at Mod Producciones and Cuenca’s own La Loma Blanca. Pic was unveiled at Berlin’s European Film Market by its sales agent, Film Factory Entertainment. Set to be released in Spain by Caramel in late 2020, “The Daughter” marks the [...]

  • Sugar Rush

    Berlin: Nigeria's FilmOne Makes Global Push With China-South Africa Pact (EXCLUSIVE)

    FilmOne Entertainment, the Nigerian distributor and production company, has gone into production on the first movie to cash in on the $1 million film fund it launched with China’s Huahua Media and South Africa’s Empire Entertainment in December. “Kambili,” by director Kayode Kasum, is the first of what FilmOne co-founder Moses Babatope expects to be [...]

  • High Ground

    Berlinale Gala Player 'High Ground' With Simon Baker Sells to Samuel Goldwyn (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ahead of its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s “High Ground” has found a U.S. home with Samuel Goldwyn. The film, headlined by Simon Baker, is represented in international markets by pan-European group Playtime and is having a gala screening at the festival. Set in 1919, “High Ground” tells the story [...]

  • The Crossing

    TrustNordisk Sells WWII Norwegian Family Drama 'The Crossing' to the U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)

    TrustNordisk has sold “The Crossing,” an inspiring WWII-set Norwegian family drama, to the U.S and a string of Eastern European countries. The movie was picked up by Menemsha Entertainment for the U.S. and by Cinemania Group for former Yugoslavia. Produced by Norwegian company Maipo, “The Crossing” tells the story of 10-year-old Gerda and her brother [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content