Sticking around the Czech Republic this summer? Or just looking for movies to watch during those long summer evenings? Check out our list of the five best Czech cult movies currently on Netflix!
Kolya (Czech: Kolja)
Starting with the critically acclaimed classics, Kolja, a winner of the 1997 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is one of the most popular Czech movies especially for foreign audiences.
The 1996 Czech drama follows an old bachelor, Louka, whose life gets turned upside down when he has to unexpectedly take care of a five-year old Russian boy, Kolja.
Louka is a dissatisfied concert cellist, who has lost his job at the Czech Philharmonic orchestra and now plays at funerals at the Prague crematorium. When his friend suggest that he could make some extra money by marrying a Soviet woman that wants to stay in the Czechoslovakia, he agrees but things do not go as planned. The woman uses the new citizenship to emigrate to West Germany but is forced to leave behind her five-year old son behind. Louka grudgingly agrees to take care of the child.
Taking place against the backdrop of the final years of the communist rule, the movie centers around the relationship between Kolja and Louka as they gradually form a bond despite communication issues and Louka’s grumpy nature.
Cosy Dens (Czech: Pelíšky)
Traditionally aired on the Czech Television on Christmas eve, Pelíšky is one of the most popular Czech movies currently available on Netflix. Directed by Jan Hřebejk, this 1999 coming-of-age story takes place in the Prague residential district Hanspaulka in the months leading up to the Prague Spring.
The movie depicts the lives of ordinary Czech families and deals with issues like intergenerational conflict, the fascination of the young generation with the West, and the struggles of teenage love. The mosaic storytelling follows individual stories that eventually coalesce in the face of the Soviet invasion, portraying the hopes of three different family generations that were crushed by Soviet tanks.
Many scenes from the film have become instant classics, becoming a staple of nearly every Czech’s dictionary. In one of the scenes a proud communist father shows his family the latest invention of socialist scientists from Eastern Germany – plastic spoons.
As the family puts the plastic cutlery into their coffee, the plastic melts in the heat of the beverage, making for one of the best-known quotes: “I wonder where the comrades from GDR made a mistake.”
Loners (Czech: Samotáři)
Samotáři is a cult comedy classic. Directed by David Ondříček, the movie was released in 2000 and caused an earthquake on the Czech film scene. Dealing with the issue of love in the modern society, the film is a testimony of an emerging generation which finds it difficult to fit into the norms set out by their parents.
The film follows the lives of seven young people that change drastically over the course of just a couple of days. Its charm becomes evident especially when the tales of the young loners intertwine in an often-bizarre circumstances.
Despite the strangeness of the various situations, Samotáři continues to resonate with the audiences until today, and remains one of the most popular movies on the Czech Netflix streaming platform.
The Snowdrop Festival (Czech: Slavnosti Sněženek)
Based on the book of the same name by Bohumil Hrabal, Slavnosti Sněženek is a 1984 Czechoslovak comedy directed by Jiří Menzel that takes place in a small village called Kersko.
In his usual style, Hrabal described the ordinary lives and relationships of the people living in the small village – a place and people he knew so well. The director Jiří Menzel then worked together with Hrabal to bring his vision to life.
When a boar gets shot by one hunting association on the territory of another hunting association, it creates a dispute between the groups of men. In an attempt to solve the dispute, the hunters agree to a feast attended by both groups, but it turns out that peace cannot survive in the face of the hunter’s petty squabbles.
Despite its incredible popularity, Slavnosti Sněženek could be replaced by almost any other film directed by Jiží Menzel. This is because Menzel’s films, the majority of which is based on the books by Bohumil Hrabal, count among the best and most popular of the Czechoslovak movie production of all time.
Other worthy mentions include: My sweet little village (Vesničko má středisková), Cutting it short (Postřižiny), and the critically acclaimed Closely watched trains (Ostře sledované vlaky).
The Elementary School (Czech: Obecná Škola)
Set in one of the suburbs of Prague right after World War II, the main protagonist of The Elementary School is a 10-year old Eda Souček, who just moved from the city to the suburbs.
After causing a mental breakdown to one of their teachers, the class gets a new male teacher, Igor Hnízdo. Wearing a uniform and a holstered gun, the new teacher presents himself as a war hero. Hnízdo starts implementing strict measures in the class including corporal punishment.
In spite of his authoritative methods, the boys grow to like Hnízdo, who tells them stories from the battlefront, making a similarly good impression on the people living in the town. After being accused of a sex affair with twins studying at the school for girls, Hnízdo is forced to leave, but the boys rally behind him. Eventually, the teacher is allowed to come back and abandons the strict measures he previously used to discipline the class.
Same as Kolja, the 1991 Czechoslovak comedy-drama is a result of the legendary father-son cooperation between Jan Svěrák, who directed the movie, and Zdeněk Svěrák, who wrote the screenplay.
To further pursue your education in Czech cinema, you can also check out our list of the best movies produced during the Czechoslovak New Wave of the 1960s.