KOLYA was directed by Jan and scripted by his father Zdenek Sverak, who also stars. The film won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (the first Oscar for the Czech Republic - the previous Czech to win an Oscar for Czechoslovakia was Jiri Menzel in 1967 with his film CLOSELY OBSERVED TRAINS). KOLYA also won the 1997 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In the Czech Republic, where it remained on release a year after it debuted, KOLYA won six Czech Lions (Czech National Film Awards) and has become the most critical and commercially successful Czech film since the Velvet Revolution. KOLYA has been released theatrically in forty countries, the widest global release of any Czech film in the country's history. KOLYA was awarded Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Tokyo International Film Festival and was nominated for European Film of the Year (Felix 1997) and for a BAFTA - for Best Film Not in the English Language.
Jan Sverak's talent first attracted attention through his short film SPACE ODYSSEY II (1986), a dramatic story of two retired women living on a snow-bound estate. Here he paid his first ironic homage to mainstream American commercial film genres.
Jan's ability as a filmmaker was confirmed by his sci-fi ecology documentary dealing with a newly discovered species, supposedly flourishing in the devastated region of the then Northern Czechoslovakia. The film ROPACI (OIL GOBBLERS) was popular at festivals at home and abroad. In 1989, OIL GOBBLERS received the most prestigious prize in its category, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Oscar for the best foreign film.
Two years later Jan Sverak completed his feature debut OBECHNA SKOLA (THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL) (1991). His father, Zdenek Sverak, wrote the screenplay and acted in the film. In 1992 this heart-warming period film set in post-war Czechoslovakia was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Jan Sverak directed ACCUMULATOR 1 (1994), an action fantasy about television's vampire-like capacity to suck out a person's life force and deplete their energy, which he wrote with Jan Slovak, a member of the theatre company Sklep. Zdenek Sverak worked with the two young authors on the dialogue for the final version. At the time, the film with its budget of over forty million crowns was the largest scale Czech production ever. It was awarded the Media Prize at the 1994 Venice International Festival and received the Grand Prix at the International Festival at Yubari Fanta in Japan. On home territory the popularity of the film brought Jan Sverak the Czech Lion Prize, awarded by the Czech Film and Television Academy for the most popular film of the year.
Jan Sverak's road-movie JIZDA (THE RIDE) (1994) was also a hit with audiences in the Czech Republic. He wrote the screenplay of this ultra low-budget film with his college mate Martin Dostal. Since its first release, the film acquired an almost cult status and for more than a year it was one of the top Czech box-office hits. JIZDA received the Crystal Globe, the main prize at the 30th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary in 1995.
Born in 1965 and after completing his secondary education, Jan was accepted for the documentary film course at the Prague Film Academy (FAMU), and graduated in 1988. While at the Academy he directed several short films (among them GOODBYE LITTLE STATION (1985), WINE-MAKER (1985) and two television films: CONVERSATION (1986) and HOW THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPS BRING GOOD LUCK (1987). He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Czech Film Academy. He is married with three children and lives in Prague.
Jan Sverák Facts
|Occupation||Director, Actor, Writer|
|Birthday||February 6, 1965 (56)|
|Birthplace||Zatec, Czech Republic|