You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Czech Prime Minister Plans to Boost Nation’s International Film Productions

KARLOVY VARY — While the Czech Republic remains an attractive location for international feature film and, increasingly, TV series production, it is facing tough competition from other European countries. Boosting the nation’s prospects in the international film sector has become a key issue for the government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who recently visited Los Angeles to meet with industry execs and tout the Czech Republic’s many assets.

Sobotka spoke to Variety about the importance of the film industry and his government’s efforts to support the sector and encourage more international productions to shoot in the country.

How important is the film industry for the Czech Republic?
Although the film industry represents just a fraction of the GDP of our country, it is very important. It provides employment to a lot of people from various professions, and it increases awareness about our country and attracts tourists to the Czech Republic, which helps create jobs in the tourism sector. We attempt to support, and the state attempts to finance the creation of Czech films, but we also provide incentives, so that we can attract international productions, and we have been succeeding in this overall.

Another dimension of film is that Czechs are major film fans, film is an important part of our cultural identity and each year, besides being a site for several international film shoots, the Czech Republic also hosts multiple film festivals. We are very proud of our cinematic successes. I believe that within countries comparable in size with the Czech Republic, we are unusually successful, we have numerous world famous creators and films, and some Czech films have influenced European as well as international cinema.

More specifically, how important are international productions for the Czech film industry?
The Czech Republic highly appreciates the presence of foreign productions. Nearly CZK 1 billion [$41 million] is spent annually on production of Czech films. Foreign companies in the past few years have spent more than CZK 3.5 billion annually, which is more than $125 million. However, spending by foreign production companies depends on specific films. When large blockbusters are shot in the Czech Republic, foreign production companies spend much more here.

There is enormous competition in this area because producers can select from multiple ideal destinations. However, the Czech Republic has a specific position in the center of Europe, with a variety of historical locations, a quality film infrastructure and qualified and trained crews. I also need to mention that the Czech Republic is among the safest countries in the world, and this also makes it very attractive for film makers.

The Czech Republic introduced the 20% rebate incentive in 2010. Is it likely that your government will raise the rebate to 25% in view of strong competition from other European countries?
One of the topics of the debate with American filmmakers in Los Angeles was the option of increasing film incentives from the current 20% to 25%. The Czech government is aware of the competition in this industry, and therefore it is currently analyzing and considering this option.

What was the outcome of your meeting with U.S. film industry representatives and what were your impressions of the U.S. film industry?
At the discussions, I was reminded of the great reputation of the Czech film industry and its interest in establishing cooperation with American film studios. The Czech Republic can offer a lot of attractive locations and skilled crews. Our government has also increased for the State Cinematography Fund the volume of funds intended to finance film incentives — $33 million are now available for this purpose annually.

Visiting the global capital of the film industry is a major experience for everyone. It is where people realize the magnificence and potential of the film industry.

What role does the Karlovy Vary Film Festival play for the Czech Republic?
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is the most important film festival not only for the Czech Republic, but in Central and Eastern Europe as a whole. With its unique atmosphere and worldwide fame, the festival annually welcomes thousands of visitors from the professional community and the general public, which makes the Czech Republic one of the most important European film centers. The Karlovy Vary festival is the life blood of the development of Czech film and a major benefit for film culture.

What films have you enjoyed recently or managed to see at Karlovy Vary?
As a film fan, I have recently enjoyed a wide range of films, and I can mention at least the three most recent ones from this year’s festival. Matt Ross’ film “Captain Fantastic” was very attractive with the excellent Viggo Mortensen starring in the main role. Of the Czech films, I was most impressed by the film “The Teacher” from one of my favorite directors, Jan Hrebejk. At the festival I also enjoyed “Tiger Theory,” presented by the president and main architect of the festival, Jiri Bartoska [who also stars in the film].

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Inside an Inox Leisure multiplex in

    India's Inox Multiplex Chain Reveals Ambitious Growth Plans

    Indian multiplex chain Inox Leisure has revealed ambitious plans to more than double its existing screen capacity of 600. The company is planning to add 900 more screens across the country over the next decade. “That’s the realistic answer, but my desire is to do it over the next five years,” Siddharth Jain, director, Inox [...]

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content