Cesky Lev Awards

Mrs Sverakova and Mr Sverak, photo CTK

On Saturday evening, the country's film scene came together at Prague's Lucerna Hall, which hosted the ninth annual Cesky Lev, or Czech Lion, film awards. Sixteen feature films were made in this country last year - of those, seven received nominations from the Czech Film and Television Academy and five received awards. More from Dita Asiedu:

Mrs Sverakova and Mr Sverak,  photo CTK
The U.S. filmmaker, Rob Cohen announcing the winner of the award for the film which attracted the most viewers: Tmavomodry Svet, or Dark Blue World - Jan Sverak's dramatic story about the fate of Czech RAF pilots during and after the Second World War. Dark Blue World also won awards for best director, music, camera, and film editing.

Rob Cohen - who recently directed the critically-acclaimed The Rat Pack, which received eleven Emmy Award nominations - took the opportunity to thank directors such as the Sverak family for their contributions to world cinema:

"I was lucky to be here making a new movie in Prague called Triple X. It gave me a chance to re-pay an old debt to the Czech cinema, which had a big influence on me when I was a film student - to the work of Milos Forman and Jan Kadar, Jiri Mencl, Jan Sverak and Sasa Gedeon. These films meant a great deal to me as I was growing up in the cinema as well as the Czech cinema was growing up."

Jan and Eva Svankmayer,  photo CTK
But Dark Blue World was not the only winner of the evening. "Babi Leto", which takes a humorous look at the life and death of pensioners, was the most successful film from the acting point of view. It won four awards, including Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, and Actor in a Supporting Role.

The Best Picture award, however, went to Jan and Eva Svankmayer's Otesanek (Little Otik), a combination of comedy and horror. Based on a Czech fairy tale it tells the story of a young couple who, not being able to have children of their own, bring a baby made out of wood to life. The baby turns nasty with disastrous consequences. Otesanek, which features Svankmayer's usual combination of animation and live action, also received an award for Best Art Direction and Best Poster.