Olympic runner biopic 'Zátopek' takes gold at Czech Lion Awards

David Ondříček's drama about Emil Zátopek, who won three gold medals at the 1952 Olympics, was named the best Czech movie of 2021.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 06.03.2022 09:37:00 (updated on 08.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Zátopek, a biopic of the legendary Czech runner who won three gold medals at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, was named the best film of 2021 at the Czech Lion Awards, the Czech Republic's version of the Oscars. The awards ceremony took place on Saturday evening at Prague's Rudolfinum.

This year's ceremony payed special respects to the ongoing war in Ukraine, with the exterior of the Rudolfinum decorated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Many attendees at the awards ceremony wore yellow and blue ribbons and badges on their clothes in support of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis spoke at the beginning of the ceremony, and called on Czech film circles to interrupt relations with Russian filmmakers, and ban them from festivals.

"The current developments in Ukraine touch us all, so logically they will be reflected in the Czech Lion award ceremony," Ivo Mathé, president of the Czech Film and Television Academy, said at the beginning of the evening.

"Among other things, we have decided to scrap the social part of the evening [a gala reception] and donate the money saved to those who need it the most right now."

During the live broadcast on Czech Television, viewers were prompted to support Ukraine by sending text messages. The proceeds will go directly to the charity People in Need, who are sending humanitarian aid tho those in affected areas of Ukraine.

David Ondříček won the Czech Lion for Best Director award for Zátopek, which tells the story of Olympic runner Emil Zátopek and his wife Dana Zátopková, a javelin thrower who also won gold at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

Václav Neužil won the Czech Lion for Best Actor for his lead performance in Zátopek, while Pavla Gajdošíková was named Best Actress for her role in Emma in Love (Chyby), directed by Jan Prušinovský.

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Oldřich Kaiser won Best Supporting Actor for his turn in The Man with Hare Ears, while Antonie Formanová, granddaughter of the late Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman, won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Occupation.

Even Mice Belong in Heaven was named as Best Animated Film, while director Adéla Komrzý's Intensive Life Unit was selected as Best Documentary. Occupation also won for Best Screenplay.

Of the 13 nominations it received, Zátopek ultimately won eight, which also included victories for Sound, Cinematography, Editing, Stage Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Zátopek was also selected by the Czech Film and Television Academy to this year's Oscars as the Czech Republic's submission for Best International Film, but ultimately did not receive a nomination.

Ar the start of the Czech Lion ceremony last night in Prague, the audience gave a standing ovation to those fighting the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Afterwards, Perebyinis stood up and thanked the organizers for devoting this year's ceremony to supporting Ukraine.

"The solidarity we feel in the Czech Republic is unbelievable," the ambassador said.

Perebyinis also noted that some representatives of the film industry in Russia have shown support for the invasion of Ukraine. This is why he asked those in attendance to cut off relations with Russian filmmakers.

On behalf of People in Need, Jan Pergler thanked Czechs for the enormous amount of money raised for Ukraine. As of Saturday, 1.16 billion crowns had been collected by People in Need for Ukraine, and a third train full of humanitarian aid has left from the Czech Republic.

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