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Cinema: ‘The Painted Bird’ dominates Czech Lion Awards 2020

Prague, Czech Republic – The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče) emerged as the biggest winner of the 2020 Czech Lion ceremony, the most prestigious movie award in the Czech Republic, held in Prague’s Rudolfinum over the week-end.

Nominated in no less than eleven categories, the World War II drama written and directed by Vaclav Marhoul scooped up a total of eight prizes by the end of the evening, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography, as well as Best Costumes, Best Stage Design and Best Editing.

The Czech Republic’s entry for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film, The Painted Bird made the Academy’s December shortlist but was not nominated for the coveted golden statuette – which eventually went to Bong Joon-ho’s acclaimed Parasite.

Adapted from Polish-American writer Jerzy Kosinski’s 1965 novel of the same name, The Painted Bird is a dark, three-hour black-and-white Holocaust-set story of a young Jewish boy struggling to survive in an unnamed Eastern European country during World War II and Nazi Germany occupation.

A “grim and violent reflection on the cruelty of human nature”, according to the Hollywood Observer, The Painted Bird caused controversy and was met with mixed reactions from critics and moviegoers alike, triggering several walkouts during the international film festivals in Venice and Toronto.

Prague-born director Vaclav Marhoul, who said it took him 11 years to adapt The Painted Bird into a movie, had already received the Czech Lion awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay for his 2008 movie Tobruk.

With 12 nominations, Jiri Havelka’s Owners (Vlastníci) led the pack ahead of the 2020 ceremony and is another one of the big winners of the 27th edition of the Czech Lions, receiving three awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay. Nominated in 10 categories, Old-Timers (Staříci) by Martin Dusek and Ondrej Provaznik ended up getting the Czech Lion awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Most!, the highly popular TV series which topped the charts as one of the most Googled search terms in the Czech Republic last year, was awarded the prize for Best Dramatic TV Series.

Last year, Winter Flies (Vsechno bude) by Slovenian-born, FAMU-educated director Olmo Omerzu was the big winner of the 2019 Czech Lion Awards, finishing the evening with six prizes including Best Movie, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Main photo credit: Czech Lion Awards Facebook page

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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