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Poles Conquer Czech Cinema
Michalina Olszańska w filmie "Ja, Olga Hepnarová". fot. Media Brigade
Michalina Olszańska in I, Olga, photo: Media Brigade

Cinematographer Adam Sikora and actress Michalina Olszańska were nominated for the Czech Film Critics’ Awards and the Czech Lion Awards, the most important awards in the Czech film industry.

The Czech-Slovak-Polish production I, Olga, directed by Tomáš Weinreb and Petr Kazda received 6 Czech Film Critics’ Awards nominations and 8 Czech Lion Awards nominations.

I, Olga is a Czech-Slovak-Polish joint production, which premiered at the Berlinale Festival in 2016. It tells the story of Olga Hepnarová, the last woman in Czechoslovakia to be sentenced to death. In July 1973, the 22-year-old Olga drove her van into a group of people at a tram stop. Eight people were killed, twelve injured. Hepnarová, fully aware of what she was doing, had only one goal: to kill as many people as possible. Why? Olga wrote this in a letter two days before the tragedy:

Why am I doing this? So people understand that there is a limit to one’s helplessness. I am a loner. A person being destroyed by other people. I have a choice – to kill myself or others. I choose revenge.



Among the nominees for this year’s Czech film industry awards, there are two Poles. Michalina Olszańska, Polish cinema’s rising star, is in the running for Best Actress at the Czech Lion Awards. The actress, known for her part in The Lure, portrays the young murderess on the verge of psychopathy. This is not the last Czech movie that she is part of – in the new picture Muzzikanti directed by Dusan Rapos, she will appear on-screen with Jaromir Nohavica.

Adam Sikora, the phenomenal Polish cinematographer, is also up for two awards: the Czech Film Critics’ Awards and the Czech Lion Awards.

Sikora, who did the cinematography for films by Lech Majewski and such feature films as Essential Killing or Ederly, is highly regarded by our southern neighbours, and this nomination is proof of that. In 2013, Sikora won the Czech Film Critics Award and the Czech Lion Award for In the Shadow directed by David Ondříček.

Sikora is not the only Pole who won these awards in past years. In 2014, the awards went to the creators of Agnieszka Holland’s movie Burning Bush. The movie was made into a TV series as well as a feature-length film, which was supposed to be the Czech candidate for the Academy Awards (unfortunately, due to certain regulations, it could not compete). That same year, Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz was given the Best Music award by the Czech Film Critics.

The growing number of Czech awards given to Polish artists only goes to show that Polish-Czech cooperation is flourishing: in the past decade it resulted in such films as Janosik: A True Story by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik, The Karamazov Brothers by Petr Zelenka, Operation Dunaj by Jacek Głomb and I, Olga. In the past, it was only Polish cinematographers and directors (Kinga Dębska and Agnieszka Holland graduated the Czech FAMU film school), making their mark on Czech cinema, now Polish actors and actresses are making their way into the Czech film industry.

On 4th March 2017, Michalina Olszańska was awarded a Czech Lion in the Best Female Lead category for her portrayal of  Olga Hepnarová in I, Olga and Michał Lorenc was awarded a Lion, alongside Czech composer Krysztof Markem, in the Best Music category. The music was written for the Czech film Masaryk .

Sources: PISF, own information; Originally written in Polish by BS, 19 Jan 2017, translated by WF, 3 Feb 2017.

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