Czechs dominate EFA documentary nominations

By Radovan Holub
    Prix Arte winner Rene was one of two Czech films among the ten documentary films nominated for the European Film Academy (EFA) "European Film Academy Documentary 2008 - Prix Arte".

    Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecky and Miroslav Janek and Rene by Helena Trestikova were both selected to compete for the award, which will be presented at the 21st European Film Awards Ceremony, Saturday, December 6, in Copenhagen.The EFA announced on that Rene was chosen to receive the award.

    In a statement the jury said, "This is a film which tells a powerful story - filmed over 20 years - about an extraordinary character on the edge of society. It is a longitual documentary of outstanding quality. The jury found its examination of the relationship between subject and filmmaker fascinating and thought-provoking."

    Rene (CZK 4.6 million/180,000 euros) is a time-span documentary of a young man accompanied by a film camera from the age of eighteen for another eighteen years, on his life´s journey between prisons and short intermezzos outside, unfolding against the backdrop of political changes in Central Europe.

    Citizen Havel is an unique documentary on former political dissident, playwright, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel who permitted his friend, Pavel Koutecky, to get behind the scenes and capture most unique moments in the "kitchen of politics" before Havel´s political battles, speeches or international visits. After Koutecky´s tragic death in 2006, Czech documentary filmmaker Miroslav Janek finished the film. Film is budgeted at CZK 19.4 million (770,000. euros).

    Citizen Havel, co-produced by Film and Sociologie Foundation and leading Czech production company Negativ, was shown at the Berlinale and Toronto based Hot Docs Film Festivals. Rene, produced by Negativ with the participation of Media Development and the Czech State Fund for Cinema, screened at the Karlovy Vary and Pusan International Film Festivals.

    "The success of both films was enabled through the presence on major international film festivals," Negativ Production Company CEO Pavel Strnad told FNE. "Nominations of the EFA indicate that the domestic and even international reputation of Czech documentaries grows significantly. During 2008, 12 Czech feature-length documentaries will open in Czech cinemas and for the first time the Czech Film and Television Academy (CFTA) will award a Czech Lion in the category Best Documentary."