Cinema of the Czech Republic

Czech cinema is the name for cinematography of Czech Republic, as well as the Czech cinematography while it was a part of other countries.

Cinema of the Czech Republic
Kino Světozor in Prague
No. of screens668 (2011)[1]
  Per capita6.9 per 100,000 (2011)[1]
Main distributorsBontonfilm 34.0%
Falcon 31.0%
Warner Bros. 14.0%[2]
Produced feature films (2011)[3]
Fictional23 (51.1%)
Animated2 (4.4%)
Documentary20 (44.4%)
Number of admissions (2011)[4]
  Per capita1.06 (2012)[5]
National films3,077,585 (28.5%)
Gross box office (2011)[4]
TotalCZK 1.21 billion
National filmsCZK 301 million (24.9%)

Three Czech/Czechoslovak films that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film were The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos in 1965, Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) by Jiří Menzel in 1967 and Kolya (Kolja) by Jan Svěrák in 1996. Several others were nominated.

The most viewed Czech film ever is The Proud Princess from 1952. It was seen by 8,222,695 people. The film also won a prize for a child film at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[6][7]

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne is considered the most successful Czech film ever made a it was soon after its release distributed to 72 countries in the world and received widespread attention.[8]

Marketa Lazarová was voted the all-time best Czech movie in a prestigious 1998 poll of Czech film critics and publicists.[9][10]

Before WW2

The first Czech film director and cinematographer was Jan Kříženecký, who since the second half of the 1890s filmed short documentaries called "Newsreels". The first permanent cinema house was founded by Viktor Ponrepo in 1907 in Prague. Sound was first used in Czechoslovakia in the film Když struny lkají (1930). Then the Czech movie industry experienced a boom period which lasted until World War II. Barrandov Studios were launched in 1933, it is the largest film studio in the country and one of the largest in Europe. At present the studios are often called the "European Hollywood" or "Hollywood of the East" due to increasing interest of western productions.

World War 2

During World War 2, many major pre-war film directors continued to make films, including Otakar Vávra, Martin Frič, Miroslav Cikán, Jan Sviták (who was murdered at the end of the war by an anti-fascist mob), Vladimír Slavínský, František Čáp, Zdeněk Gina Hašler (who emigrated to the US after the war) and Václav Binovec.

Vladimír Čech started his career during the WW2, as well as Václav Krška. Scenario writer Karel Steklý turned to film directing at the end of the war and maintained both careers until his death.

Well-known actor Rudolf Hrušínský (born 1920) also worked as a director during this period.

From the end of the WW2 until the New Wave

Famous movies of the 50s include: Journey to the Beginning of Time, The Good Soldier Švejk, The Emperor and the Golem, The Princess with the Golden Star, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, The Proud Princess (the most viewed Czech film ever) and Once Upon a Time, There Was a King....

New Wave

The Czechoslovak New Wave is most frequently associated with the early works of directors such as Miloš Forman, Věra Chytilová, Jiří Menzel and others, although works by older, more established Czechoslovak directors such as Karel Kachyňa and Vojtěch Jasný are also placed in this category. Encompassing a broad range of works in the early to mid-1960s, the Czechoslovak New Wave cannot be pinned down to any one style or approach to filmmaking. Examples range from highly stylised, even avant-garde, literary adaptions using historical themes (e.g. Jan Němec's Diamonds of the Night (Démanty noci)) to semi-improvised comedies with contemporary subjects and amateur actors (e.g., Miloš Forman's The Firemen's Ball (Hoří, má panenko)). However, a frequent feature of films from this period were their absurd, black humour and an interest in the concerns of ordinary people, particularly when faced with larger historical or political changes. The acid western comedy film Lemonade Joe was a famous parody of old-time westerns. Cinematic influences included Italian neorealism and the French New Wave, although the Czechoslovak New Wave also builds organically on developments in Czechoslovak cinema in the late 1950s when directors broke free from the influence of Stalinism in the film industry.

After New Wave until the 1990

Many of the directors active in the previous periods continued to work in this period, including Otakar Vávra and Jiří Menzel. Notable was a fairy-tale film from 1973, the Three Nuts for Cinderella, which has become a holiday classic in several European countries, for example in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and Norway.[11]

1990s and beyond

Among the most successful Czech films made after the system change are: Kolya, Divided We Fall, Cosy Dens, Loners, I Served the King of England and Walking Too Fast. The first Czech CGI animated movie was Goat Story – The Old Prague Legends in 2008. It was also the most successful Czech animated movie in the cinemas with admission 350.000.

Czech films

List of Czechoslovak films 1898–1990
List of Czech films (List of Czech Republic films) 1990 - today
List of Czech films considered the best

List of notable Czech directors

See also

Further reading

  • Passek, Jean-Loup; Zaoralová, Eva, eds. (1996). Le cinéma tchèque et slovaque. Paris: Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou. ISBN 9782858508921. OCLC 415079480.


  1. "Table 8: Cinema Infrastructure - Capacity". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  2. "Table 6: Share of Top 3 distributors (Excel)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  3. "Table 1: Feature Film Production - Genre/Method of Shooting". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  4. "Table 11: Exhibition - Admissions & Gross Box Office (GBO)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  5. "Country Profiles". Europa Cinemas. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  8. "Vynález zkázy je nejúspěšnější český film všech dob. V New Yorku ho promítalo 96 kin současně". Aktuálně.cz - Víte, co se právě děje (in Czech). 19 April 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  9. "TOP 10 CESKO-SLOVENSKEHO HRANEHO FILMU". Mestska kina Uherske Hradiste (in Czech). 1998. Archived from the original on 2 October 1999.
  10. Marketa Lazarová on (in Czech)
  11. "Tohle jste o pohádce Tři oříšky pro Popelku určitě nevěděli!". Prima (in Czech).
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