Reader feedback: Don't forget Czechoslovak films

Re: Slovaks at Oscar ceremony, Culture shorts, March 31- April 6, Vol 9, No 12,

Your recent item says that no Slovak film or artist has ever been nominated for an Academy Award.

The first film from Czechoslovakia to receive an Oscar was The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) - Best Foreign Language film in 1965 (1966 Academy Awards).

The film was in Slovak, with a Slovak-only cast (plus one Polish actress), filmed on location only in Slovakia, its whole story took place only in Slovakia, one of its two directors and screenwriters had lived in Slovakia, and its assistant director came from Slovakia.

The Spectator calls the performance of a suite by Mark McKenzie, directed by a resident of Canada, the first "Slovak" contribution to the Oscars because of the musicians, which is fine, but goes on to imply that The Shop on Main Street wasn't. That's nonsense, even when we view as non-Slovak the Oscar (plus a host of nominations) for Paul Newman, whose mother immigrated to the US from Humenné, in eastern Slovakia.

Martin Votruba
Slovak Studies Program
University of Pittsburgh

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