The unexpected came true. The Czech Republic's entry for the Oscar race was found ineligible by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The story of self-martyrdom of student Jan Palach and the subsequent quest of a young attorney to cleanse his name in Burning Bush, originally a television miniseries, made by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, does not meet the criteria for selection.
Lawyers of the Czech Academy were convinced that the rules had not been violated. Burning Bush was primarily released as an HBO project. After that, the miniseries was re-cut into a cinematic version and theatrically released on September 12. There was a slight doubt about how the Academy would react in this particular case and that is what also prompted inspectors to investigate.
The Czech Academy was allowed to fulfil the vacated slot with a runner-up. The second in poll came as light-hearted comedy The Don Juans (photo) directed and co-penned by JiÅ™í Menzel. The veteran director has already won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Feature in 1968 for Closely Watched Trains and was nominated in 1986 for rural comedy My Sweet Village.
The Don Juans is set against the backdrop of a small town opera company preparing the production of Mozart´s Don Giovanni. The main protagonist, middle-aged opera director Vítek, claims to hate operas, but loves sopranos and the film thus follows his escapades in a lascivious comedy about passion for life, music and women. The frivolous lifestyle of Vítek is soon literally disrupted by Markétka who crashes his stolen car in an oddball incident. He soon learns about her fate as a single mother seduced and abandoned by a singing Don Juan. The string of off-kilter encounters and events incites Vítek to reconsider his life. In the second plane, Menzel suggests that culture is being ravished and left aside in a consumer-driven society.
The world premiere of The Don Juans was held on August 27 at the Montreal World Film Festival. The comedy opened in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on September 26 and is distributed by Bontonfilm.
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