Zdeněk Svěrák accepts Actor’s Mission Award, signs autographs at Art Film Fest

Zdeněk Svěrák’s relationship with the camera got off to a rocky start; in fact, he never really wanted to be an actor. Nonetheless, he’s become one of the Czech Republic’s most popular performers. This afternoon at Art Film Fest, he accepted the Actor’s Mission Award for his extraordinary contribution to the art of screen acting, fixing a brass plaque bearing his own name in Trenčianske Teplice’s Festival Park, greeted by enthusiastic applause from festival visitors and fans.

"Me and the camera weren’t friends at first. I was afraid of her. But later this changed when I came to realize that the camera is like a woman – you can’t lie to her, she’ll see right through you. She can recognize insincerity. And so I started acting in front of the camera sincerely, without pretense. I stopped being afraid, and she accepted me as an intimate friend," said the Actor’s Mission Award’s latest laureate Mr Svěrák, describing the beginning of his film career, which has encompassed seventy features and ten documentaries since his start in 1969.

Both as an actor and as a scriptwriter, Svěrák has created a number of cult classics, not the least of which being the legendary Czech “hero” Jára Cimrman. He even brought the Czechs their first Hollywood Oscar in decades. All in all, he is one of the Czech Republic’s most talented actors and scriptwriters.

Zdeněk Svěrák was born on March 28th, 1936 in Prague. Starting out as a Czech teacher and a radio editor, his first experience with the dramatic arts was as a cofounder of the now-infamous Jára Cimrman Theatre. In 1967, Svěrák and Ladislav Smoljak laid the theatre’s foundations, devising the greatest (imaginary) Czech hero of all time. Cimrman was a rousing success, and Svěrák has performed forty-three seasons of sold-out shows there, spanning over four decades. "My whole life I’ve worked with humour. It doesn’t have to be gut-busting; sometimes a smile is enough, but humour is the only defence against death," said the actor at today’s press conference.

Svěrák has written concepts and scripts both alone and with Smoljak since 1970. Together, they brought Cimrman to the silver screen in pictures such as “Jára Cimrman Lying, Sleeping”. On his own, Svěrák made his mark with hits like “Mareček, Pass Me the Pen!”, “Waiter, Scarper!” and “Those Wonderful Movie Cranks”. Together with Jiří Menzel, he earned the first Oscar nomination for a Czech film in nearly two decades with "My Sweet Little Village". Today in Trenčianske Teplice, he reunited with his colleagues from the film, Hungarian actor János Bán and Slovak actor Marián Labuda, as they signed autographs together during lunch.

Zdeněk Svěrák’s greatest awards came after he formed the “Svěrák Duo" with his son Jan. Zdeněk wrote the screenplay for Jan’s first feature-length film, "The Elementary School", reminiscing on his own childhood and teaching career. In 1991 the picture was nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film, but father and son had to wait a bit longer for their own golden figurine. In the end it was 1997’s “Kolya”, starring Zdeněk, that finally won the Oscar. And that wasn’t the last of its world-class awards – it won a Golden Globe, too.
Art Film Fest 2011 – the 19th Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín International Film Festival is made possible by the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund.

Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA, a.s. 

Co-organizers: The Town of Trenčianske Teplice, Trenčianske Teplice Health Spa

General Sponsors: Omnia Holding SE, AquaCity Poprad

Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, VUJE, OHL ŽS

Official Transport Provider: Lancia

Logistics Sponsor: DHL

Free student cinepasses provided by: Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank)

Sponsors: TIPOS, Ernst & Young, AVI studio, Penzión Baske, Cinemax, Santovka

Official Suppliers: Pilsner Urquell, HUBERT J.E., the festival Pax Spa Hotel,
A Briliant, Philips, Esterle&Esterle, MF team, LampART, Lenovo, Stredná odborná škola polygrafická (Vocational School of Printing)

Main Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, televízia JOJ, Rádio FM, Pravda, zoznam.sk

Media Sponsors: Central Europe Television, Kino CS, Muzika CS, Doku CS, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, .týždeň, Eurotelevízia, Pardon, OK!, Kinečko, Kam do mesta, Focus, Boomerang Media, SITA, moviemania.sk, BlueSky, Televízia Trenčianske Teplice, Film New Europe, euroAWK, Willmark

Partners: The City of Trenčín, the Trenčín Self-governing Region, the Embassy of Israel in Slovakia, the European Commission Representation in Slovakia, the Embassy of the USA in Bratislava, the Office of the Embassy of Sweden in Bratislava, Sodec Quebec, the Slovak Film Institute, Cinecitta, the Italian Cultural Institute in Bratislava, Omnia, RONA, Celtima SK, jazykovepobyty.sk, Hotel Flóra, versity