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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic

Zdeněk and Jan Svěrák shoot their new film, Bethlehem Light

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- The Oscar-winning Czech family team is working on a chamber comedy said to visually reference The Grand Budapest Hotel and Amelie

Zdeněk and Jan Svěrák shoot their new film, Bethlehem Light
Daniela Kolářová and Zdeněk Svěrák on the set of Bethlehem Light

The father-son duo of Zdeněk and Jan Svěrák is a well-established and recognised domestic brand with many memorable projects under their belt, with Zdeněk famous not solely for his film and theatre acting, but for his screenwriting as well. Their previous collaboration was Barefoot [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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(2017), a prequel to 1991 Czechoslovak classic and Academy Award nominee The Elementary School, which was based on Zdeněk Svěrák’s book of the same name and starred the author himself. The duo are repeating the same pattern on their eighth collaboration, the chamber comedy Bethlehem Light: director Jan Svěrák has based the script on three short stories written by his father.

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Zdeněk Svěrák plays an on-screen version of himself as aging writer Karol Šejnoha, as he begins to meet the characters he created in the real world. “The film will be about a search for harmony in life, about the border between peace and resignation, and we will distract this difficult topic with humour, stylisation, and great exaggeration," explains director Jan Svěrák. Regarding style, when the Czech Film Fund supported the project, the fund noted that the film’s visual style and creative approach will reference that of The [+see also:
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trailer
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]
Grand Budapest Hotel [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
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]
, Wild Tales [+see also:
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, and Amelie. According to the Czech Film Fund, “funny dialogues and an adequate dose of sentiment promise a witty, audience-driven film.”

Zdeněk Svěrák is once again reunited in front of the camera with the actress Daniela Kolářová who will be playing his on-screen wife for the third time, after first doing so in Empties [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and in Jiří Menzel’s 1976 film Seclusion Near a Forest. The cinematographer Vladimír Smutný is among the frequent collaborators of the father-son duo and has been working with them since their Academy Award-winning film Kolya (1996), alongside art director Jan Vlasák, and both are working on Svěrák’s latest project. Editor Alois Fisarek belongs to the inner circle of collaborators working with the Svěrák team since The Elementary School, however, he will be replaced by the director’s son and the leading actor’s grandson, František Svěrák, engaging the youngest generation into the family business.

Principal photography has already begun and will continue until May 2021, taking place predominantly in Prague. Besides Zdeněk Svěrák and Daniela Kolářová, the cast includes experienced domestic actors Jitka Čvančarová and Ondřej Vetchý, Czech actors from the young generation Teraza Ramba and Vojtěch Kotek, as well as Danish actress Patrice Schumann.

Bethlehem Light is produced by Biograf Jan Svěrák with a budget of 38,7 million CZK (roughly €1,5 million). Czech Television is co-producing, and the Czech Film Fund has supported the project. The domestic theatrical release is planned for April 2022 and will be handled by Bioscop, while Magic Box Slovakia will covering the Slovak territory.

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