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Czech Director Talks Film in DC

Czech Director Talks Film in DC

The Czech That Film Festival in Washington, DC, closed with applause from the over 200 attendees, following the screening of the critically acclaimed film Barefoot (Po strništi bos) of Oscar-winning director Jan Svěrák on April 12. Following the film, the director treated guests to a Q&A where he spoke about making the film with his father and finding the right cast and location. He also gave an inside look on why he makes the films he makes. Through his films, he wants the viewers to “disappear into the story…into the frame of the story.” 

Over 25 years, Jan has collaborated with his father Zdeněk in making films filled with humor and human stories. His latest film Barefoot is based on experiences from his father’s childhood. When asked about what it is like to work with his father, Jan responded, “We give space to each other. I appreciate his sense of humor and dialogue. He knows the timing of a joke because he has the experience as an actor…every evening he is on stage.”

In creating the film, there were a number of challenges, from finding the right location, to interviewing loads of children, and shooting the film on a small budget. With the story of the film set in 1943, he searched all over the Czech Republic until he found a small town in South Bohemia where time seemed to stand still. Over 53 days on a budget of about 2 million dollars, he shot the film. In finding the right cast to play the children, he auditioned over 800. He said, “It is very tricky to bring someone in front of the camera so that they don’t become wooden.”

Jan also gave insight into his own personal choice in making movies. When asked about his filmmaking, he said, “Over the course of my career, I have been offered several times to make horror films, and I have always refused.”

He continued, “You are responsible for the world you are living in by what you do, by what you make …I don’t want to support evil and violence and I don’t want to have it around.” His comments drew a round of applause from the audience.

Photo: Director Jan Svěrák and Ambassador Kmoníček

© 2017 Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, DC