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Three Czech docs are seeing unprecedented popularity

Radovan Holub 2007-11-29

Three Czech documentaries have become especially popular with domestic audiences after winning a string of international awards.

The documentary essay Peace with Seals seems to be drawing crowds on a par with Michael Moore's U.S. film Sicko. Peace with Seals, which opened Oct. 31, was made for the relatively big budget of €370,000 Euro by the small Prague- based production company 12 opic (www.12opic.cz) which specializes in art documentaries. It was co-produced by the Italian company Panda Film (www.pandafilm.com), Czech Television (www.ceskatelevize.cz) and film school FAMU Prague (www.famu.cz).

The ecological film follows the story of several seals, including one named Gaston who tried to escape from the Prague Zoo during the floods of 2002, as it describes the perils facing one of the European Union's most endangered species.

Another successful documentary available in Czech cinemas is Marcela by Helena Třeštíková, which covers nearly two decades of the life or a hard-working, determined mother who loses her daughter.

The film, which was made for €130,000, won the main awards at the Finale film festival of domestic films in Pilsen and at the De Cine Europeo festival in Sevilla.

Lost Holiday, a surprising film made by Lucie Králová for €180,000 (www.lostholiday.com), is a Czech detective story which won a Crystal Globe at this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Lost Holiday is based on the discovery of a suitcase containing 22 rolls of undeveloped film in a Swedish dumpster. The 756 snapshots, made by unidentified Chinese tourists, set up the plot for a three-year investigation to find out whether it is possible to trace someone in today's interconnected world merely through lost photographs.

Some smaller U.S. distributors have contacted producer Martin Řezníček from DOCUfilm Prague, about the film.

"But Americans have a different idea about what documentary film means, so we will see what will happen," Řezníček told FNE.



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