Muzika cleans up at Slovak Oscars

MUZIKA was the word most often called out during the Slnko v sieti (Sun in a Net) film awards, which took place at the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre on April 19.

MUZIKA was the word most often called out during the Slnko v sieti (Sun in a Net) film awards, which took place at the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre on April 19.

The awards, which are given out by the Slovak Film and Television Academy, honoured Czech and Slovak artists with prizes for the best movies and biggest achievements in Slovak cinematography in 2006 and 2007.

Muzika (Music), a film about three musicians trying to survive the harshness of communism in Czechoslovakia, collected nine of the evening's 15 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

In all, 11 movies made over the last two years were nominated. Five Slovak and co-produced feature films competed for Best Picture. And three films competed for Best Documentary and Best Animated Film.

Muzika, which was released in Slovakia as recently as April 17, beat Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I served the King of England) and Tajnosti (Secrets), among others, to take the top prize.
"You have excellent taste," Marián Urban, Muzika's producer, joked in his acceptance speech. "I hope that filmgoers will too."

Muzika's acclaimed director, Juraj Nvota, received Best Director. Ironically, he was the eighth director to be offered the film, the ČTK newswire wrote.

Ľuboš Kostelný won Best Actor for his role as a young saxophone player in Muzika.

The Slnko v sieti awards are the second film prizes that Kostelný and Nvota have received for Muzika. On April 9, they won in the same categories at the Igric awards, Slovakia's oldest film prizes.

This was Kostelný's second Best Actor nomination. Two years ago, he was among the cast of Slnečný štát (The City of the Sun), which won Best Picture. This year, he was chosen over Slovak actor Lukáš Latinák (Návrat bocianov or Return of the Storks) and Czech actor Karel Roden (Tajnosti).

Slovak actress Jana Oľhová received the Best Supporting Actress award for Muzika.

The other categories that Muzika won were Best Screenplay (Ondrej Šulaj), Best Sound (Tom Korr), Best Original Score (Robert Mankovecký), Best Art Direction (Mona Hafsahl and Peter Čanecký), and Best Editing (Alois Fišárek).

The Best Actress award went to Czech musician and actress Iva Bittová for her performance in Tajnosti. Bittová played Julie, a woman who is searching for something despite having everything.
Popular Slovak actor Martin Huba won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Skřivánek, the head waiter in Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále. Huba had already won the Czech Lion for the role.

The academy selected Iné Svety (Other Worlds) by Marko Škop for Best Documentary. A film about his native Šariš region in eastern Slovakia, Iné Svety has already received an Honourable Mention at the Karlovy Vary film festival.

Iné Svety won over Tepuy - Cesta do hlbín zeme (Tepuy - Journey to the Depths of the Earth) by Pavol Barabáš and Martin Slivka - Muž, ktorý sadil stromy (Martin Slivka - The Man Who Planted Trees) by Martin Šulík, the latter of which won Best Camera for cinematographer Richard Krivda.

Director Ivana Šebestová took home Best Animated Film for her latest film, Štyri (Four). She also received a Sk300,000 prize for a filmmaker under 35, which she said she will use to finance her next film.

The Artistic Excellence award went to two people: legendary Slovak cinematographer Vincent Rosinec and editor Maximilián Remeň.

Grbavica by Jasmila Žbanic won Best Foreign Film.

Is the dry spell in Slovak filmmaking over?

"There were generations of filmmakers who drew people to cinemas," said Nvota. "Then something happened and the Slovak viewer stopped trusting local films. We wish to bring Slovak viewers back."

Muzika might have achieved this. The film drew in 7,036 viewers during its first week, the Pravda daily wrote. The film's creators have said they are pleased with that number. In Slovak cinemas, Muzika outdid the premiere of Michael Clayton, an American film starring George Clooney that was nominated for six Oscars.

"For a long time Slovak audiences have wanted to see films that show how they live or used to live - films that explored their feelings," Urban told Pravda. "If a film manages to speak about fundamental concerns with wit and humour, this is, in my opinion, what they need."

It was a more sombre mood when the Slnko v sieti awards were distributed for the first time, in December 2006, because no Slovak feature films were made that year.

The industry rebounded in 2007, making nine feature films.

The Slnko v sieti and Igric awards show that Slovak filmmaking is full of promising names, such as directors Róbert Šveda and Patrik Lančarič, who debuted in 2007.

The Slnko v sieti awards borrow their name from a famous film directed by Štefan Uher in 1962.

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