Il Boemo cleans up at Czech Lion awards
Petr Václav’s Il Boemo triumphed in no fewer than six categories, including Best Film and Best Director, at the Czech Lion awards on Saturday. The biopic of 18th century Czech composer Josef Mysliveček trumped the psychological drama Arvéd, which had 12 nominations but ended up with just three statuettes.
Reminiscent, in theme and costumes at least, of Miloš Forman’s famous Amadeus, Il Boemo focuses on the life of the Prague-born Baroque composer Josef Mysliveček who found great success in Italy and was a mentor to Mozart.
The film was put forward by Czechia as its nominee for the Best International Film category at this year’s Oscars, but didn’t make the cut. However, this didn’t stop it from dominating Saturday night’s Czech Lion national awards.
Aside from taking the prize for Best Picture, Il Boemo earned the Best Director prize for Petr Václav, who also wrote the screenplay.
“I studied Myslivecek and the period he lived in for about a year-and-a-half. We had been discovering his music for several years together with conductor Václav Luks. There are very few recordings of his work, so Václav Luks didn’t really know it. It took work, but the hardest and worst part of it all was raising the funds to shoot the film.”
The film features many of Mysliveček’s compositions, which were both performed during the shoot itself and recorded separately to be included in the finished film. Václav told Czech Radio that these recordings proved very useful in the shooting process.
“The music is an integral part of the whole film. It actually also helped because, once we had recorded the specific compositions and I knew what music I was going to work with, it pushed me forward. You can listen to it and it’s easier to imagine the resulting film with the music in mind. You can write scenes based around the music and edit around it. Music is actually a big help whenever you are directing.”
The film picked up a further four Czech Lion statuettes for sound, costumes, masks and set design.
However, the Best Male Actor prize went not to Il Boemo’s Vojtěch Dyk but Michal Kern. He starred in Arvéd, a psychological mystery drama focused on the life of Jiří "Arvéd" Smíchovský, a Czech mystic who collaborated with both the Nazi and Communist regimes.
Kern spoke to Czech Radio shortly after picking up his award.
“I approached this role from the standpoint of an actor. I had to keep this fact constantly in mind because it was one of those roles where you think that it could potentially make you lose your marbles. I would protect myself against negative emotions through meditation or church visits in order to keep myself clean so to say.”
Arvéd had 12 nominations but only ended up garnering three Czech Lions – for Best Male Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Music.