The rise and rise of Czech teen movies

'Raftaci' - Jiri Madl and Vojta Kotek

Czech cinema is experiencing a new trend. In the last two months, three teenage comedies hit the theatres, which is more than in the past decade. Inspired by the unexpected success of the 2004 smash-hit "Snowboardaci" or "Snowboarders", Czech filmmakers started churning out comedies targeted at teenage viewers - an estimated two thirds of all cinema audiences in the Czech Republic.

'Raftaci' - Jiri Madl and Vojta Kotek
Last week saw the premiere of "Raftaci" or "Rafters", by Karel Janak, who triggered the new trend with his box-office hit Snowboardaci two years ago. "Rafters" is a summer version of Janak's first feature, and in the first four days after its opening, more people saw "Raftaci" than any other Czech film so soon after the premiere.

"I was taken aback because I would never have expected we would beat such blockbusters as Jan Sverak's 'Dark Blue World'. Of course, there was a lot of promotion and people liked my previous film, 'Snowboardaci'. Now we'll see if attendance will remain high or will drop depending on what the people who've seen the movie tell their friends. If it drops, then it means I did a bad job. If it stays high, it means we did OK."

Teenage actors Vojta Kotek and Jiri Madl, starring in both Janak's movies, have become idols among Czech teenagers and the films opened great career opportunities for them.

"When I made 'Snowboardaci', everybody thought that I had struck gold and many teams started shooting teenage comedies. But they had poor attendance. In my view, it makes no difference whether it's a teenage comedy or something else. What I think is missing in this country are well-made genre movies."

And director Karel Janak's definition of a good teenage comedy is simple.

"There is a group of boys and a group of girls who are trying to get closer - to experience love and their first sex. There need to be obstacles that they can overcome. Every one of the boys and girls has to be different and unique. Add plenty of embarrassing moments to the mixture, a bit of sex and some generational conflict. I tried to do it the Czech way and this is the result."

Next week, Karel Janak starts shooting his third feature, "Ro(c)k podvrataku", again starring Vojta Kotek and Jiri Madl in an attempt to strike again while the iron is still hot.