Wahlkampagne in Prag

Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Local elections. Internet sites on the Czech Government. Programme on Czech recipes. Czech internationally acclaimed films. South Moravian folk songs. Quotes from: Jennifer Wong, Andy Lock, Michael Fanderys, Azizul Alam Al-Amin

Hello and welcome to Mailbox.

And as you've surely already realised, this is the first day of our new winter schedule. Those of you who were not aware of this can contact us at Vinohradska 12, 120 99 Prague 2, Czech Republic for a copy of the new schedule.

But for a faster way, just visit our website at for the frequencies, programmes, and the new times of broadcast.

Also, before we start with your queries. Please be sure to write legibly when you send us the good old-fashioned letter. We have had at least five cases where we were forced to give up deciphering what's written as we simply could not read the handwriting. And that's five too many...

Okay, that should be all the announcements for the time being. Let's move on to the first question. It's from Jennifer Wong from Miami, Florida in the U.S.A.:

"Could you tell me more about the local elections? In your brief explanation on your website, you mention the Senate and local elections but only proceed to talk about the Senate. So what are the local elections?"

Well, Jenny, I had a look at our website and you are right, it does not give a clear idea of what the local elections are. So, here's our colleague Martin Hrobsky, who is currently working on a report on this for Newsview this week:

As you may know local elections in the Czech Republic take place next week. These local elections are quite different then those in the past. Last year the political system in the Czech Republic was decentralized. Meaning, that these new regional governments will now have more power in influencing local laws and decisions. What is unique to local elections in the Czech Republic is that in the past independent candidates have often won. This means that local issues are not politicized, people feel that independent candidates are better suited to solve regional issues. A number of factors are making this round of regional elections in the Czech Republic very interesting as well as important. Next week Radio Prague will bring you the latest news and analysis pertaining to the local elections so stay tuned.

Thanks Martin. I hope that made things clear for you, Jenny and the rest of you who had wondered about the local elections. And on a related note, staying with politics, we have a question from Andy Lock from somewhere in cyberspace:

"I am trying to learn the Czech language and receive your daily bulletins. I read about the forthcoming presidential elections next year. Can you direct me to a useful source of information on the Internet (in Czech and English) about the structure of government in the Czech Republic?"

Well, we have two useful sites for you. There is the Czech government's official site, which is and then there is a site that has information on all governments under the sun - They are both in English.

And once, again. Visit our website. We have had numerous reports and programmes featuring the Czech government. Moving on to something other than politics. Michael Fanderys from Ohio, USA writes:

"On our trip in 1999, my wife and I drove from Regensburg to the border of the Czech Republic. We encountered many exchange booths just past the border into your country. Then, we proceeded to Plzen, where we stopped to exchange currency and sit down for a very nice meal at a nearby restaurant. May I suggest this type of occasion for a future ABC of Czech program, including possibly a joint program on Czech food dishes or entrees at restaurants and how to prepare them?"

We have thought about a programme like that but to be honest with you, there are not many English-speaking chefs of Czech traditional food who are willing to share their recipes. In order to make such a feature, it has to have lots of variety and natural sound. We are definitely thinking of it - Daniela Lazarova may have a cooking series in Magazine, although it is not certain when.

We have had the occasional report though. Remember when we cooked the carp for Christmas and you also did a Central Europe Today on dishes from the region. So we surely will be putting in the one or other cooking programme.

I hope that answers your question, Michael. And here's a question from Azizul Alam Al-Amin from Ghoramara in Bangladesh:

"I am interested to know more about the Czech Film Industries. How many movies the Czechs have produced each year, have any Czech Movies received the "Oscar Award"? Please air a feature on this topic in your show."

We may do an arts programme on this topic at some point in the future but for now, Alena Skodova answers the question for you.

Well, Czech films in general have won international acclaim. The most highly appreciated films were of the so-called New Wave that was in the 1960s. In the Communist era, there were around thirty films made annually in Czechoslovakia. Now, it's around twelve to fourteen films every year because Czech filmmakers usually do not get money from the state for their films so they work on co-productions and have to seek sponsors. As for the Oscar Award. We got the first one in 1966 for a film by Janos Kadar and Elmar Klos called "The Shop on Main Street". Two years later, director Jiri Menzel received an Oscar for "Closely Watched Trains". After that, we had to wait until 1996, when a father and son team - Zdenek and Jan Sverak - received an Oscar for "Kolya", which was chosen as the best non-English language film. But other world-famous films that received Oscars, such "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus" were also made by the Czech film director, Milos Forman. Besides that, several Czech films were also nominated for an Oscar. The last one was in the 2000, filmed by Jan Hrebejk called "Divided We Fall" about a Czech family who provided shelter to a Jewish boy during WWII. And we will just have to see who will be next.

Thanks Alena. And let me just add that the latest Czech nomination for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film is "The Wild Bees" in Czech "Divoke Vcely", by director Bohdan Slama. The Wild Bees, Mr Slama's second film, is a portrayal of a small village in Moravia and its quirky inhabitants.

I haven't seen it but it sounds like a good comedy. Czech humour is a little unique, though. Well, I think our time on Mailbox is up. Thanks very much for joining us today and tune in again soon.

Let me just remind you of our e-mail address: [email protected]. Fell free to send us your comments, questions and suggestions. Until next time, take care of yourselves.