My DVD review of Jiří Menzel’s My Sweet Little Village should be up later today, but in the meantime here’s an article from MovieMaker magazine (no.43, Summer 2001) in which Radovan Holub explores the dilemma faced by Czech filmmakers who want to connect with the domestic box office, and also offers a convincing explanation as to why so few achieve international distribution even if they’re popular at home:
Czech feature films remain introverted, slow-moving and unpretentious. The situation is akin to that of traditional European cinema: Czech moviemakers want to offer viewers enough time and space for contemplation of their own problems. Domestic audiences like films with well-worn themes. For Czech audiences, the most exciting kind of hero is the one who could easily be living right next door to them: everyday people in everyday situations tempt the Czech moviegoing public.
Czech films can be said to go against the grain of the mainstream Western cinema, which attempts to dazzle audiences with spectacular effects at almost any cost and as soon as possible. Instead, these films choose to involve the viewer on an emotional level. Yet, in creating such films - ones that will make the Czech audience nod in agreement and familiarity - Czech directors have alienated the global audience. Financing for Czech films is difficult to come by, and Czech moviemakers who find distribution at the international level are few.