Kolya (Czech: Kolja) is a 1996 Czech drama film about a man whose life is reshaped in an unexpected way. The film was directed by Jan Svěrák and stars his father, Zdeněk Svěrák, who also wrote the script from a story by Pavel Taussig.[3] Kolya earned critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[4]

Film poster
Directed byJan Svěrák
Produced byEric Abraham
Jan Svěrák
Written byZdeněk Svěrák
StarringZdeněk Svěrák
Andrey Khalimon (Andrej Chalimon)
Libuše Šafránková
Music byOndřej Soukup
Bedřich Smetana
CinematographyVladimír Smutný
Edited byAlois Fišárek
Biograf Jan Sverak
Pandora Cinema
Česká Televize
Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l'Europe
Centre National de la Cinématographie
The Czech Republic State Fund for Support and Development of Cinematography
Portobello Pictures
Space Films
Distributed bySpace Films
Release date
  • May 1996 (1996-05) (Cannes)
  • 15 May 1996 (1996-05-15) (Czech Republic)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryCzech Republic
LanguageCzech, Slovak and Russian
BudgetCZK 28 million[1]
(app. $1 million)
Box office$7.7 million[2]


The film begins in 1988 as the Soviet bloc is beginning to disintegrate. František Louka, a middle-aged Czech man dedicated to bachelorhood and the pursuit of women, is a concert cellist struggling to eke out a living by playing funerals at the Prague crematorium. He has lost his previous job at the Czech Philharmonic, having been half-accidentally blacklisted as "politically unreliable" by the authorities. A friend offers him a chance to earn a great deal of money through a sham marriage to a Soviet woman to enable her to stay in Czechoslovakia. The woman then uses her new citizenship to emigrate to West Germany, where her boyfriend lives.

Due to a concurrence of circumstances, she has to leave behind her 5-year-old son, Kolya, for the disgruntled Czech musician to look after. At first Louka and Kolya have communication difficulties, as they don't speak each other's languages and the many false friend words that exist in Czech and Russian add to the confusion. Gradually, though, a bond forms between Louka and Kolya. The child suffers from suspected meningitis and has to be placed on a course of carefully monitored antibiotics. Louka is threatened with imprisonment for his suspect marriage and the child may be placed in a Soviet children's home. The Velvet Revolution intervenes though, and Kolya is reunited with his mother. Louka and Kolya say their goodbyes.

Bachelor Louka ends up fathering a child with his girlfriend – perhaps a replacement for lost Kolya – and regains his position as a virtuoso with the philharmonic orchestra.

Principal cast

KolyaAndrey Khalimon
LoukaZdeněk Svěrák
KláraLibuše Šafránková
Mr. BrožOndřej Vetchý
Louka's motherStella Zázvorková
TamaraLillian Malkina
Kolya's motherIrina Bezrukova

Home media

The film was released on DVD and VHS on July 2, 2002.[5]


The film gained positive reviews.[6][7][8][9]

Box office

The film was successful on a limited release[10] from 24 January 1997 and had taken about $5.73 million by 11 July that year after an opening weekend gross on three screens of $37,795.[11]

In the Czech Republic, the movie's country of origin, over 1.34 million visitors made the movie one of the most successful movies ever. In Germany more than 624,000 tickets were sold for the film.[12]


See also


  1. Česká televize: Kolja – Co možná nevíte
  2. worldwideboxoffice: Kolya
  3. Thomas, Kevin (1997-01-24). "Father and Son Team Up in 'Kolya'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  4. "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  5. "News". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  6. Maslin, Janet (1997-01-24). "What a Difference a Boy Makes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  7. "Kolya". Chicago Sun Times. 1997-01-27. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  8. Guthmann, Edward (1997-09-12). "FILM REVIEW – Charming 'Kolya' Has Magic Touch". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  9. Thomas, Kevin (1997-01-24). "A Heart-Tugger With a Czech Twist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  10. King, Susan (1997-01-28). "Jerry Maguire Ahead of Pack—Barely". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  11. Kolya: Box Office, IMDB, Undated.Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  12. Kolya: Admissions. LUMIERE – Database on admissions of films released in Europe. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
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