Sveráks have hands full with Empties
by Sakis Kontos
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio eat your hearts out. In Prague, when it comes to adoring a double act, no one can beat the father-son duo of Zdenek and Jan Sverák.
Six years after his latest film, Dark Blue World (Tmavomodrý svet), director Jan Sverák is finally back with the eagerly expected Empties [+see also:
film profile], a comedy-drama written by and starring his father, which opens in Czech Republic on March 8.
In the film, the older Sverák plays Josef, a retired teacher who decides to take a job in a supermarket to confront ghosts of old age.
The father-son pair previously won an Oscar for Kolya (1997), which almost risked being their last film made together, and not necessarily just because Zdenek is getting older. “It’s true, there was a misunderstanding between us about the script”, says Jan.
“He returned the script to me a few times, I wasn’t sure what he had ordered, a light comedy or a more emotional story”, adds screenwriter and protagonist Zdenek. “In the end, I took something away from the belly and gave a bit more to the heart”, he says, explaining how he added more drama to the comedy genre, thus helping keep family ties intact.
Following Kolya and Dark Blue World, Empties is the third film that director Sverák is co-producing with British producer Eric Abraham of Portobello Pictures and he does not hide the fact that the film has big ambitions, especially at home.
Jan Bradác of Falcon, the film’s distributor, is also quick to admit that the strategy is about a “quick return”: 39 prints will flood theatres next week, including one with English subtitles, in an effort to cover as much Czech territory as possible. Ticket pre-sales are said to be doing very well although no concrete figures were given.
The film’s budget was €1.2m and its other co-producer was TV NOVA.
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