Czech Oscar Achievements

Czech Oscar Achievements

A country made for films

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Czech filmmaking is not at all behind when compared to the rest of the world. It can be said that the Czech Republic is a bit of a promised land in this sense.
In connection with the upcoming announcement of the film Oscars, let's look at the Czech Oscar achievements. You may be surprised at how many Oscars Czech artists have won. Also discover how many great films that didn’t receive an Oscar were shot here, or are now being shot in the Czech Republic.

1966 The Shop on Main Street

The first Oscar was won in 1966 by the Czechoslovak film (Czechoslovakia separated peacefully to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993), The Shop on Main Street by directors Ján Kadár and Elmar Klose, based on a short story by the writer Ladislav Grosman. In the Czech Republic, however, you will not find any traces of a film that shows the fate of ordinary Jews under the then Slovak clerical-fascist government, with the exception of the Barrandov Film Studios in Prague. The film was mainly shot in the eastern Slovakia, where the author of the original novel came from.

1968 Closely Watched Trains

The next Czechoslovak film, Closely Watched Trains by director Jiří Menzel, which won the foreign language film category in 1968, is a different story. The Czech director filmed it based on a short story by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, who served as a storyteller at the end of the war and was inspired by the real-life explosion of a German ammunition train, detonated by partisans in March 1945. In addition to Barrandov Film Studios, the village of Loděnice and the railway station on a side-track near Prague became much appreciated backdrops. The Museum of the Railway and Closely Watched Trains was later established at the station. A short nature trail also serves as a reminder of this film.

The Era of Miloš Forman

Films by Czech American director Miloš Forman shine brightly under Czech Oscars. As early as in 1976, he won one of his five Oscars for the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which takes place in a mental institution. In 1985, Forman dazzled the world with the feature film Amadeus, which won a whooping eight Oscars. It was one of the golden moments of Czech filmmaking. Together with director Forman, Theodor Pištěk also won awards for costumes and Karel Černý, a film architect and artist, had the interiors of historic Prague buildings remodelled for the film.



Forman, who was already living in the United States at the time, saw Amadeus as a unique opportunity to return to Prague. Are you wondering just how he accomplished it during the communist regime? It was the film’s non-political theme and, moreover, the money that were the main deciding factors: filmmakers spent several million dollars in the then Czechoslovakia. The impact it had on the film industry in the Czech Republic was huge. A number of Czech actors appeared in supporting and episodic roles, and from January to July 1983, filming mainly took place in Prague and Kroměříž.

Opulent interiors were provided by the residences of the Archbishop of Prague and the magnificent Archbishop's Castle in Kroměříž in Moravia, but filming locations also included Prague’s Hradčanské Square, Nerudova Street, the Wallenstein Garden, Maltese Square in Malá Strana, Střelecký Island, Vyšehrad and the game reserve at the beautiful Veltrusy Castle north of Prague. Of course, the Estates Theatre in Prague was also featured, where Mozart's opera Don Giovanni had its world premiere in October 1787 with the participation of the composer himself. All these places are definitely worth a visit.

1997: Kolja

For their next great Oscar movie, Czechs had to wait until after the Velvet Revolution. Czech director Jan Svěrák received a golden statuette for best foreign language film for his kind-hearted comedy Kolja in 1997. It was filmed in the Vinohrady Cemetery in Prague and in several Czech crematoria, but also in many beautiful areas throughout the Czech lands – in Úštěk, in the spa town of Františkovy Lázně, in the beautiful Šumava Mountains in Antýgl, and by the Vydra River near the German-Austrian border. And of course, in Prague. You will find the romantic tower apartment of one of the film’s main protagonists in Lázeňská Street in Malá Strana, not far from the Church of the Virgin Mary under the Chain. The film was seen by people in forty countries all around the world.

Other Oscar recipients

The very first Czech Oscar was won in 1948 by the then eleven-year-old Ivan Jandl for the American-Swiss film The Search. This young member of the children's radio ensemble was discovered by American director Fred Zinnemann and cast in the lead children's role of this anti-war film. The film, which was not shot in our country, dealt with the post-war return of children introduced within the Third Reich during the Second World War throughout Europe. Jandl played a Czech boy whose mother was trying to find him. Other global production companies were also interested in him, but the communist regime did not allow him to travel. And because of the American award, he was not even allowed to study acting in college. He worked as a clerk, an art and radio editor and died in 1987.

Franz Planer, a cameraman of Czech origin, was nominated for the famous Oscar award five times, but never won. He shot mostly American films; in 1949 it was Champion, in 1951 The Death of a Salesman, in 1953 Roman Holiday, in 1959 The Nun’s Story, and in 1961 the film The Children's Hour.
Czech director Jan Pinkava (1998, Geri's Game), who was also nominated for the film Ratatouille in 2007, also won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. In 2007, the Czech singer Markéta Irglová, together with Glen Hansard, won an Oscar for Falling Slowly in the best original song category for the Irish film Once.

Famous films and filming locations in the Czech Republic

A number of famous films and series have also been made in the Czech Republic. Just to mention a few, Casino Royal, Mission Impossible, the Oscar-winning biographical film Edith Piaf and Jojo Rabbit. Other films include Anthropoid, Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Blade 2, Bloom Brothers, Bad Company, Ninth Day, Hannibal, Hart's War, Hellboy, Chasing Liberty, The Illusionist, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Bridge at Remagen, Merchant of Death, The Prince and Me, The Trial, The Cassandra Crossing, A Knight's Tale, Spy Game, Underworld, Nosferatu, Van Helsing…

Before we present the most interesting filming locations, we must mention the Czech Republic’s crowning glory – the already mentioned Barrandov Film Studio, a complex of film studios in Prague in the Barrandov district, where filming has taken place since 1933. This area has been nicknamed "the Hollywood of the East" due to the steady interest of production from Westerners. Since 2010, interest in filming in the Czech Republic has sharply risen again thanks to financial incentives approved by the Czech government.
 

Prague

Old Prague has particularly become the backdrop for countless large scale and Oscar-winning films including, for example, the beautiful drama about a Jewish girl Yentl with Barbra Streisand, the action movie Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise, the already mentioned Oscar-winning Amadeus, another action movie The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon or the action fantasy Blade 2 with Wesely Snipes, the sci-fi fantasy film Hellboy or the horror movies Van Helsing and Hostel.

Žatec

This beautiful, old town in western Bohemia is one of the most popular locations among filmmakers. It is said that, just like a good actor, Žatec can play anything – a Jewish ghetto, Dickens' London, revolutionary Paris, a military war zone, the backdrop for various romantic walks and high-paced action chases. Most recently, the Oscar-winning film Jojo Rabbit with Scarlett Johansson was shot here. However, it was the above-mentioned film Yentl which brought fame to this city among filmmakers almost 40 years ago. It was not altogether a complete coincidence. The grandmother of the main protagonist, Barbra Streisand, came from Žatec and lived on the street where scenes with film shops were shot, nearby to the synagogue.
In 1997, the famous actor Liam Neeson also shot one of the successful adaptations of Hugo's Les Miserables in the city. Oliver Twist was also shot here… In the Sladovna Gallery, you can see the "Žatec in Film" exhibition, which features short clips of films made in this city.

Ploskovice Castle

A romantic castle near the city of Litoměřice has also been visited by film crews. Forman’s Amadeus mentioned above was shot here as well as the American romantic comedy The Prince and Me with Julia Stiles, as was the BBC Series The Musketeers.

…and others

Let’s take a brief look at the remaining locations. The historical city in the south, Český Krumlov, has hosted a multitude of films – just to name a few, the already mentioned film Yentl, Van Helsing and the horror movie Hostel. The beautiful Pernštejn Castle was also the location for Van Helsing, the romantic Castle Hluboká was the scene for the fantasy movie Underworld: Blood Wars, where it featured as the main lair of the vampires. In the world-renowned city of Karlovy Vary, the Bond movie Casino Royal with Daniel Craig was filmed. In Křivoklát Castle, Castle Kačina as well as in the city of Kutná Hora, the adventure fantasy film Brothers Grimm by film director Terry Gilliam with an all-star international cast, such as Matt Damon and Heath Ledger was filmed.