Czech film incentives run dry again as the country becomes a hot destination for international shoots
- All Quiet on the Western Front, which was shot entirely in the Czech Republic, has been nominated for nine Oscars, with four nods specifically for Czech professionals
The Czech Republic has become a major draw for big international and Hollywood productions (see the news) while also attracting the streaming giants (see the news). The country was the first in Continental Europe to allow a restart of film productions during the COVID-19 pandemic (see the news). Many high-profile international projects were made there throughout the years of the pandemic, including Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front [+see also:
interview: Edward Berger
film profile], which was shot entirely in the country from March-May 2021 and is currently nominated for nine Oscars, four of which are for the work of Czech professionals. Previously, the film won seven BAFTA awards (see the news).
Demand to shoot in the Czech Republic is so high that it has already drained the allocated film incentives for 2023. In early January, the Czech Film Fund had to freeze all registrations for such incentives owing to the “depletion of available funds intended for [them]”, stemming from the record-breaking number of applications. While the Czech Film Fund usually receives 80-120 project applications annually, it got 153 new registrations for 2023. The head of the fund, Helena Bezděk Franková, noted that the applications received constituted an impressive range of audiovisual projects, covering a broad spectrum of offerings.
The bulk of the line-up of registered projects includes big-budget foreign series projects and other foreign film projects geared towards a theatrical release, European co-production projects, selected series productions for Czech television stations and VoD platforms, as well as Czech feature films, animated films and documentaries. With such a diverse range of audiovisual creations on offer, it’s clear that the industry is striving to meet the varied tastes and interests of viewers across multiple media. The head of the Czech Film Fund noted that this does not mean that every project will ultimately be shot in the country, as “the full range of projects realised here will only be known after the submission of full applications for the registration of incentive projects”. However, she adds, “The composition of registered projects, both in terms of typology and quantity, presently fulfils the capacity of the Czech film industry to its maximum.” So far, the shooting of the new Robert Eggers project Nosferatu has started, while Thomas Vinterberg is confirmed to shoot the Danish TV series Families Like Ours in the Czech capital (see the news).
The president of the Czech Association of Audiovisual Producers, Vratislav Šlajer, said, “Audiovisual is still one of the strong creative industries; it will bring much-needed investments to the Czech Republic in times of crisis. This would not be possible without the revival of the film-incentive system.” Last year, Šlajer led an effort to receive additional funding after a similar depletion of film incentives owing to high demand. The initiative earned an additional financial injection of €23 million from the Czech government (see the news). The president of the association added that the upcoming reform of the incentive system prepared within the framework of the amendment to the Audiovisual Act should result in the transformation of the Czech Film Fund into the Czech Audiovisual Fund (see the news). In turn, this “should further stabilise its functioning and permanently keep the Czech Republic among the strongest film destinations in the world. […] In the end, it will not just be a short-term solution, but rather a vision for long-term sustainability.” Registrations for the film incentives are currently frozen until February 2024.
The four Czech filmmakers in the running for an Oscar for their work on All Quiet on the Western Front are Linda Eisenhamerová in the Make-up and Hair category, Viktor Prášil in the Sound category, Kamil Jafar for Special Effects, and Viktor Müller for Visual Effects. “The German production company spent a total of CZK 430 million (€18.3 million) in our country, not only on film professions, but also on many non-film-related services,” said Pavlína Žipková, the Czech national film commissioner.
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