TV mini-series Volga dominates annual Czech film awards

Czech Television’s series Volga swept this year’s Czech Lion national film awards at the weekend. The mini-series about a Czechoslovak television chauffer picked up five prizes, including the Best Actor and best Supporting Actor. The Best Film Award went to Brothers, a retelling of the Cold War story of the controversial Mašín brothers.

Brothers | Photo: CinemArt

The Best Film award at Saturday’s Czech Lions went to Brothers, a film about the controversial Mašín brothers, who formed an armed resistance group and who fought their way out of communist Czechoslovakia to West Berlin killing several people in the process, a topic which remains divisive to this day.

Petr Bílek | Photo: Český lev/ČFTA

Speaking to Czech Radio after the award giving ceremony at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday night, the film’s producer Petr Bílek said his intention was not for viewers to take sides:

“We didn’t want to make a film for fans or opponents of the legacy of the Mašín brothers. Everyone told me it would be complicated and controversial. But what else should a filmmaker do than to follow such a great story, which I think is the biggest story in our modern history?”

Nominated in 15 categories, the Czech entry for this year’s Oscars only came away with one trophy. The biggest winner of this year’s Czech Lions was, perhaps surprisingly, a Czech TV series called Volga.

Jan Pachl and Josef Viewegh | Photo: Český lev/ČFTA

It tells the story of Standa Pekárek, a Czechoslovak TV chauffer who becomes a spy for the secret police in order to acquire his own Volga. The producer of the series, Josef Viewegh, says he was taken aback by some of the reactions they received:

“Standa may be young and handsome and funny, but he is actually a monster. So it really took me by surprise that many viewers actually regard him as a positive hero. That must be because of Kryštof Hádek, who is an extremely charismatic actor, although there might be some other reasons as well.”

Photo: Český lev / ČFTA

Volga picked up the awards for Best TV Series, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costumes and Best Masks. The other big success at this year’s Czech Lions was Restore Point by Robert Hloz. The science fiction thriller won the Czech Lions for Best camera, sound, editing and scenography.

Daria Kascheeva  (left) | Photo: Český lev/ČFTA

The biggest stir at the award giving ceremony was caused by Daria Kascheeva, who won the Magnesia Litera Award for Best Student Film for Electra, her master’s thesis at Prague’s FAMU.

Kascheeva’s acceptance speech, in which she addressed the difficult condition of women working in film, was cut short by the producers for exceeding the given time-limit:

“I had a message about how difficult it is to be a mother working in a creative position. We had four mothers on the set of Electra and it wasn’t easy at all. I think we should have conditions that would allow every woman and every mother to do their work.”

Agnieszka Holland received the Extraordinary Audiovisual Achievement recognition for her film Green Border depicting the plight of migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border.