New Film Critics’ Awards recognise best in Czech cinema

'Walking Too Fast'

Thursday evening saw the awarding of the first-ever Czech Film Critics Awards at Prague’s Archa Theatre. The awards are meant as a dignified alternative to the more commercial Czech Lions, which are given by the Czech TV & Film Academy.

Vojtěch Rynda
A little earlier I spoke to critic Vojtěch Rynda, one of the people involved in the project about the new awards, including how the initial idea for them came about.

“The idea arose from frustration I would say because fellow critics and I had a feeling for a long time that the main professional awards – the Czech Lions – had neglected smaller productions, taking notice only of larger films with bigger promotion and PR. We thought that it would be a good idea to show that those smaller films exist too.”

And are fully deserving of attention of course...


How many critics took part in the selection process and how many categories are there?

“I think it was 46 critics – 85 percent of the critics behind the project – and there are 11 categories in all. There was a 12th – best animated feature – which wasn’t awarded this year, but which we hope to give next time.”

Would you say that films which received nominations – or won last night – were ‘edgier’ projects that had gotten reviews but might have fallen a little by the wayside?

Robert Sedláček
“It’s a bit ironic because one of the examples of films neglected by the Czech TV & Film Academy in the Czech Lions are by Robert Sedláček. He has made three movies so far but attendance for his films hasn’t been high and he has never received a Czech Lion. He was nominated for six Czech Film Critics’ Awards and only came away with one win for best actress. So it is a bit ironic that he didn’t get quite the attention he deserved even at our own event!”

In the end, who was the big winner on Thursday evening?

“The biggest winner was Radim Špaček and his film Pouta (the English title is Walking Too Fast). It’s a film that takes place in 1980s Czechoslovakia and the main character is a member of the Czechoslovak state police. He is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and he basically snaps. He turns his back on everyone and becomes obsessed with the girlfriend of a member in the dissident movement he is supposed to be watching. It is a classical love triangle but it takes place during one of the saddest times in Czechoslovak history.”

Radim Špaček
Do you think this marks a return for Radim Špaček? He is a sort of well-known filmmaker from previous years when he finished film school, but then he disappeared for a while...

“He is a person and filmmaker who always does things his own way. It’s a rare feat that he managed to get the award for the worst film of the year a few years ago for a film called Rapid Eye Movement. Now, he’s received the Critics’ award and I am pretty sure he will not go unnoticed at the Czech Lions. So he sort of bounces between walls and, yeah, is something of an idiosyncratic filmmaker.”

Let me ask you this: could you describe a little bit of the atmosphere last night?

“I was very happy with how things turned out: I’m not a fan of the big ceremonies and some of the categories at the Czech Lions like Best Film quote. By comparison our ceremony at Archa (which wasn’t televised) was kind of calm but a dignified way of celebrating last year’s cinema.”