BATHORY, the hugely popular film by Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko, will not compete for Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars in Los Angeles. In fact, the Slovak Film Academy (SFA) did not even nominate the film for competition because, according to the academy, not enough of the crew and talent who worked on it were Slovak, the ČTK newswire wrote.
“The majority of leading actors were not Slovak and neither was the crew in six categories: editing, sound, music, cinematography, costumes and art direction,” Zuzana Mistríková, SFA vice-president , told ČTK.
SFA made the decision after discussing the matter with their counterparts in the US.
But Deana Jakubisková-Horváthová, the film's producer, vehemently disagrees with the decision.
"Bathory is a majority Slovak film,“ she told the press on September 30, noting that 60 percent of it was made using Slovak funding or artists. She also cited the fact that the film's director, screenwriter, and producer are Slovak as proof that it should have qualified for nomination.
Instead, Jakubisková-Horváthová alleged, personal reasons lie behind the Slovak Film Academy's decision. She recalled that when Mistríková was the director of the media and audio-vision section at the Culture Ministry, the office refused to provide Jakubisko's grant for the film. In the end, former culture minister Rudolf Chmel intervened to allocate Sk35 million in support.
Mistríková denies anything personal is involved, and pointed out that Bathory can still try its luck in other categories.
"Nobody can prevent this film from enrolling in the Oscars directly," Mistríková said. "It is eligible if it has screened for seven days in Los Angeles."
So far, 450,000 Slovak filmgoers have seen the long-awaited movie, which centres on the legendary Blood Countess of Čachtice, Elisabeth Báthory. This makes it the most successful film in the history of Slovak cinematography. Adding the Czech audience raises the number of viewers to more than one million.
The film was made with three language tracks: English, Slovak, and Czech. The main role of the countess is performed by British actress Anna Friel. Czech actor Karel Roden plays her biggest rival, Juraj Thurzo. Italian actor Franco Nero plays King Mathias and British actor Vincent Regan plays Bathory's husband, Nadasdy.
Bathory cost almost Sk400 million (almost €13.28 million) to produce, making it the most expensive Central European film ever.
According to legend, the 16th century Hungarian noblewoman became so obsessed with attaining eternal youth that she slaughtered more than 600 young girls to bathe in their blood. But in the film, Jakubisko looks behind the myths and suggests she was actually a victim of a smear campaign rooted in political and ethnic strife.