Petr Václav’s film receives most Czech Lion awards; ‘Fair Play’ gets snubbed
It was supposed to be Andrea Sedláčková’s night. Her film, Fair Play, had not only been submitted to the Academy Awards as the official Czech entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category but had received an almost unprecedented 14 nominations for the Czech Lion Awards, which means it was nominated in every single category. Furthermore, the film had already received the special award for Best Poster, and the first award of the night was the Viewers’ Choice, which also went to Fair Play.
However, that would be the last award of the night for Sedláčková and her film, as Petr Václav’s much-acclaimed The Way Out (Cesta ven) swept category after category, with the exception of the acting honors, almost all of which went to the group of experienced theater actors in Miroslav Krobot’s Nowhere in Moravia (Díra u Hanušovic).
The Czech Lion Awards are the most prestigious recognition in film in the Czech Republic and annually draw the country’s best-known filmmakers to the Rudolfinum, where the Czech Film and Television Academy bestows the awards on a dozen individuals for their work during the previous year. This year’s ceremony, held Saturday, Feb. 21, was expected to be a predictable affair, as Fair Play had seemed to be the favorite for a long time, even though Václav’s film had won all the top awards at the Czech Film Critics’ Awards at the end of January.
In the end, it was a wipe-out comparable to the infamous poor showings of The Color Purple at the 1985 Academy Awards andThe Turning Point at the 1977 awards show, where both films earned 11 nominations but did not win a single statuette. In this comparison, Fair Play performed even worse, as it failed to win a single competitive award, despite more than a dozen nominations. Sedláčková had another film in contention on the night, the documentary Václav Havel: A Life in Freedom (Život podle Václava Havla), but in one of a string of surprises on the night, the award went neither to her film nor to the favorite, The Magic Voice of a Rebel (Magický hlas rebelky), but instead to the uneven look at the life of Havel’s first wife, Olga Havlová, in Olga.
Hosted by Czech Radio’s Lucie Výborná, the night sought to link the medical and the movie professions by having noted physicians present the awards: So, for example, an ear, nose and throat specialist handed out the award for Best Sound, while a cardiologist read out the name of the winner of the Best Director Award. The medical professionals were all entertaining, although the motivation behind the idea of combining the two fields was never made clear.
The Way Out, whose cast was mostly non-professional actors, is a gritty drama set in north Moravia where anti-Roma sentiment is widespread, and it is a daily challenge for those from this background to feel integrated in the rest of the mostly homogenous society of white Czechs. Fair Play, set in the early 1980s at the height of “Normalization,” examines the tough choice a star athlete has to make when she finds out she is being injected with anabolic steroids that make her perform better and might enable her to participate in events abroad and even to escape from the oppressive communism of Czechoslovakia, but all of this would be highly unethical, and she would compromise her innate integrity. This film was shown in competition as part of the official selection at last year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival but was not viewed very favorably according to most of the critics’ polls conducted at the time.
At the end of the night, the final tally stood at seven awards for The Way Out, three for Nowhere in Moravia, three for Three Brothers (Tři bratři), one for Krásno and one for Olga.
Best Film: The Way Out
Best Documentary: Olga
Best Director: Petr Václav (The Way Out)
Best Screenplay: Petr Václav (The Way Out)
Best Actor: Ivan Trojan (Nowhere in Moravia)
Best Actress: Klaudia Dudová (The Way Out)
Best Supporting Actor: Jaroslav Plesl (Nowhere in Moravia)
Best Supporting Actress: Lenka Krobotová (Nowhere in Moravia)
Best Cinematography: Štěpán Kučera (The Way Out)
Best Editing: Florent Mangeot (The Way Out)
Best Art Direction: Jan Vlasák (Three Brothers)
Best Costume Design: Simona Rybáková (Three Brothers)
Best Sound: Daniel Němec, Ivan Horák (The Way Out)
Best Music: Jan P. Muchow (Krásno)
Best Make-up: Zdeněk Klika (Three Brothers)
Viewers’ Choice Award: Fair Play