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JAN SVERÁK, director, producer
Born in 1965 in Zatec, Czech Republic, Jan Sverák studied documentary filmmaking at the Prague Film Academy (FAMU), from which he graduated in 1988.
Jan Sverák's talent first attracted attention through his short film SPACE ODYSSEY II, 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 what was then Northern Czechoslovakia. In 1989, OILGOBBLERS received the most prestigious prize in its category, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film.
Two years later Jan Sverák completed his feature debut, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, the screenplay for which was written by his father, Zdenek Sverák, who also 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's next movie was ACCUMULATOR 1, an action fantasy about television's vampire-like capacity to suck out a person's life-force and deplete their energy. At the time the film, with its budget of over fifty million crowns, was the largest scale Czech production ever. It was awarded the Media Prize at the 1994 Venice International Film Festival and received the Grand Prix at the International Fantastic Adventure Film Festival at Yubari in Japan. In its home territory the film brought Jan Sverák the Czech Lion Prize, awarded by the Czech Film and Television Academy for the most popular film of the year.
Jan Sverák's road-movie, THE RIDE, was also a big hit with audiences in the Czech Republic. He wrote the screenplay of this ultra low-budget film with his college friend Martin Dostál. As soon as it was released, the film acquired an almost cult status and for more than a year it was one of the top Czech box-office hits. THE RIDE received the Crystal Globe, the main prize at the 30th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary in 1995.
KOLYA, Jan's first collaboration with producer Eric Abraham, was scripted by his father Zdenek Sverák, who also stars. KOLYA went on to win the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997. (The first for the Czech Republic since Czech director Jiri Menzel's Academy award-winning CLOSELY OBSERVED TRAINS thirty years earlier.) Collaborating again with Eric Abraham the English/Czech language war movie, DARK BLUE WORLD, was released worldwide in 2001.
Jan's latest film, EMPTIES, is the last part of a trilogy which includes ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, and KOLYA. It has had its Czech festival premiere in competition at Karlovy Vary in 2007 where it won the Audience Award and a Special Jury Mention for the screenplay, and has broken box office records on release in the Czech Republic.
Jan 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.

ZDENEK SVERÁK, SCREENWRITER,
as JOSEF TKALOUN = WEBERKNECHT
Film and theatre screenwriter, playwright, writer, actor and songwriter. His films have been Oscar®-nominated three times: firstly for the comedy VESNICKO MÁ STREDISKOVÁ (MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE - 1985, directed by Jirí Menzel), followed by OBECNÁ ŠKOLA (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - 1991, directed by Jan Sverák) and finally for KOLJA (KOLYA) which eventually won the Oscar in 1997.
Zdenek Sverák is a graduate of the Faculty of Education, majoring in Czech language and literature, and after school he started teaching in the Žatec region with his wife. He contributed to magazines, wrote short stories, fairytales and television screenplays. In 1962 he joined the Czechoslovak Radio Army Service. With his colleague Jirí Šebánek and jazzman Karel Velebný he created a series of hoax "live broadcastings" from the imaginary Spider's Tavern. It was at this time that the character of an unjustly ignored Czech hero, JÁRA CIMRMAN came to life, later giving his name to the theatre which Zdenek Sverák established with his colleagues and where he is still an active writer and actor.
His film acting debut came in 1968 when he appeared as the lawyer in Jirí Menzel's ZLOCIN V ŠANTÁNU (CRIME IN THE MUSIC HALL - 1968). Immediately after that, Menzel cast Sverák in his later-censored film SKRIVÁNCI NA NITI (LARKS ON A STRING - 1969). Zdenek Sverák's distinctive comic talent found place in supporting roles in a number of Czech comedies, in which he was usually involved as a scriptwriter as well. His leading roles include the exhausted dentist Burda in the tragicomedy CO JE VÁM, DOKTORE? (WHAT'S UP DOC? - 1984) and the hopelessly enamoured engineer Hnyk in JAKO JED (AS GOOD AS POISON - 1985) both directed by Vít Olmer. However, the crowning achievements of his acting career are, undoubtedly, his appearances in OBECNÁ ŠKOLA (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - 1991), AKUMULÁTOR 1 (Accumulator 1 - 1994) and KOLJA (KOLYA - 1995), and now VRATNE LAHVE (EMPTIES - 2007) all directed by his son Jan.
During the 70's, Zdenek Sverák and his friend and colleague Ladislav Smoljak earned fame as the scriptwriters of a whole series of highly successful Czech comedies: JÁCHYME, HOD HO DO STROJE! (JOACHIM, PUT IT IN THE MACHINE - 1974), "MARECKU, PODEJTE MI PERO!" (MARECEK, PASS ME THE PEN! - 1975), both directed by Oldrich Lipský, NA SAMOTE U LESA (SECLUSION NEAR A FOREST - 1975, directed by Jiri Menzel), KULOVÝ BLESK (BALL LIGHTNING - 1978, directed by Zdenek Podskalský and Ladislav Smoljak) and the satirical musical TRHÁK (THE HIT - 1980, directed by Zdenek Podskalský). The long established Sverák-Smoljak team was the driving force behind the feature films JÁRA CIMRMAN, LEŽÍCÍ, SPÍCÍ (JARA CIMRMAN, LYING, SLEEPING - 1983), ROZPUŠTENÝ A VYPUŠTENÝ (DISSOLVED AND EFFUSED - 1984) and the dramatic chronicle NEJISTÁ SEZÓNA (AN UNCERTAIN SEASON - 1987, directed by Ladislav Smoljak) all drawing from the poetic concept of the CIMRMAN THEATRE.
Zdenek Sverák himself wrote AT ŽIJÍ DUCHOVÉ! (LONG LIVE GHOSTS! - 1977), TRI VETERÁNI (THREE VETERANS - 1983), both directed by Oldrich Lipský, the nostalgic comedy VRCHNÍ, PRCHNI (RUN WAITER RUN - 1980, directed by Ladislav Smoljak), the adaptation of Voinovich's ŽIVOT A NEOBYCEJNÁ DOBRODRUŽSTVÍ VOJÍNA IVANA CONKINA (LIFE AND EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF PRIVATE IVAN CHONKIN - 1994, directed by Jiri Menzel), fairy tale LOTRANDO A ZUBEJDA (RUFFIANO AND SWEETEETH - 1997, directed by Karel Smyczek) and his two popular Oscar-nominated comedies VESNICKO MÁ STREDISKOVÁ (MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE - 1985, directed by Jiri Menzel) and OBECNÁ ŠKOLA (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - 1991, directed by Jan Sverák). One of Zdenek Sverák's greatest successes is KOLJA (KOLYA - 1996). His screenplay was awarded the Czech Lion Prize. For Jan he also wrote the screenplay of TMAVOMODRÝ SVET (DARK BLUE WORLD - 2001), an epic dedicated to Czech pilots fighting under RAF command during the WWII.
Zdenek Sverák makes regular television appearances as a guide through the series "Czech Film Smiles" and presenter of charity TV shows and music shows for children. In 2006 he was declared "Personality of the Year" in the Czech Republic.

DANIELA KOLÁROVÁ (ELIŠKA WEBERKNECHT)
One of the best known Czech film and theatre actresses and a graduate of the Prague Academy of Performing Arts, Faculty of Theatre (DAMU), she worked in S.K. Neumann Theatre, Prague between 1968 and 1970. In 1971 she joined the Vinohrady Theatre, Prague. In the 70's she gained extraordinary popularity through appearances in film comedies and TV series (e.g. TAKOVÁ NORMÁLNÍ RODINKA - A SORT OF A COMMON FAMILY, NEMOCNICE NA KRAJI MESTA - HOSPITAL AT THE EDGE OF TOWN). In only her third year at the Academy she made a major appearance in SOUKROMÁ VICHRICE (PRIVATE TORMENT - 1967, directed by Hynek Bocan). With her colleague Jaromír Hanzlík they became a popular double-act in comedies such as SLASTI OTCE VLASTI (FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY'S JOYS - 1969, directed by Karel Steklý), NOC NA KARLŠTEJNE (A NIGHT AT KARLSTEIN - 1973, directed by Zdenek Podskalský) and LÉTO S KOVBOJEM (SUMMER WITH A COWBOY - 1976, directed by Ivo Novák). She met Zdenek Sverák whilst playing his wife in Jirí Menzel's NA SAMOTE U LESA (SECLUSION NEAR A FOREST - 1976), and she also made appearances in KULOVÝ BLESK (BALL LIGHTNING - 1978, directed by Zdenek Podskalský and Ladislav Smoljak), SETKÁNÍ V CERVENCI (JULY ENCOUNTER - 1978, directed by Karel Kachyna) and in children comedies LUCIE, POSTRACH ULICE (LUCY, THE ENFANT TERRIBLE) and …A ZASE TA LUCIE (...THAT LUCY AGAIN, both 1984, directed by Jindrich Polák). In the early 90's she reduced the amount of acting she was doing and became involved in politics as an MP. She first co-operated with Jan Sverák in OBECNÁ ŠKOLA (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 1991), and in AKUMULÁTOR 1 (Accumulator 1, 1994) she played Zdenek Sverák's wife again. She also had a supporting role in TMAVOMODRÝ SVET (DARK BLUE WORLD - 2001).

TATIANA VILHELMOVÁ (HELENKA)
One of the most notable actresses of her generation, she first aroused public interest in 1995 in Saša Gedeon's Indiánské léto (Indian Summer). In the following years she created a plethora of intriguing roles for which she was nominated for the Czech Lion Award six times. Her most essential roles include Šeptej (Whisper, 1996, directed by David Ondrícek), Návrat idiota (The Idiot Returns - 1999, directed by S. Gedeon), Divoké vcely (Wild Bees - 2001, directed by Bohdan Sláma), Duše jako kaviár (Dirty Soul - 2004, directed by Milan Cieslar) or appearances in Andrea Sedlácková's TV dramas Muj otec a ostatní muži (My Father And Other Men - 2003) and Krásný cas (Beautiful Time - 2006). In 2003 she represented the Czech Republic at Berlin International Film Festival's Shooting Stars. Tatiana was awarded the Best Actress Czech Lion Prize for her role in Bohdan Sláma's Štestí (Something Like Happiness - 2005). In 2007, in addition to Vratné lahve (Empties), she is going to make appearance in Jan Hrebejk's Medvídek.

JIRÍ MACHÁCEK (ROBERT LANDA)
A musician, actor and presenter, he has been active in the Czech film-making business since the mid-90's. He first attracted attention in Saša Gedeon's Návrat Idiota (The Idiot Return - 1999), however, his star was in David Ondrícek's comedy Samotári (Loners - 2000), where the role of a permanently stoned roadie earned him the Czech Lion award. With David Ondrícek he also co-operated on Jedna ruka netleská (One Hand Can't Clap - 2003), the film of which he was a co-writer. He teamed up with Jan Hrebejk to work on Horem Pádem (Loop The Loop - 2004), continuing the co-operation in Kráska v nesnázích (Beauty In Trouble - 2006) and is going to appear in Hrebejk's new comedy Medvídek as well. In Divadlo Na Jezerce theatre he plays under Hrebejk's direction in the play Na dotek.

PAVEL LANDOVSKÝ (REZÁC/SCHNEIDER SR.)
This actor, director and playwright is a symbol of his liberal-minded attitude towards art and life. After repeated failure to get accepted to the Prague Academy of Performing Arts, Faculty of Theatre (DAMU), he started out as a young actor in theatres outside Prague. In 1966 he joined Cinoherní klub (The Drama Club). In the late 60's he became one of the most popular Czech film actors. In the 70's he was politically persecuted and in 1980 he was forced to emigrate to Austria, where he was active in theatre, making occasional appearances in film as well. He is the author of several plays and radio dramas, the best known being the Hour Hotel Keeper. After 1990 he reappeared in Czech films. His filmography includes dozens of roles - to mention but a few from the 60's: Svatba jako remen (Unfortunate Bridegroom 1967, directed by Jirí Krejcík), Soukromá vichrice (Private Torment - 1967, directed by Hynek Bocan), Utrpení mladého Bohácka (The Sorrows Of Young Bohacek - 1969, directed by František Filip) and Já, truchlivý Buh (I, The Mournful God - 1969, directed by Antonín Kachlík). Whilst in exile he appeared in Psí dostihy (Dog Racing) and Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí (The Unbearable Lightness Of Being - 1988, directed by Philip Kaufmann). After returning to the Czech Republic he played in Jan Nemec's V žáru královské lásky (In the Light of the King's Love - 1990) and created a prominent character of Major Terazky in the adaptation of Švandrlík's famous novel Cerní baroni (The Black Barons - 1992, directed by Zdenek Sirový). Other titles of his include Amerika (America - 1994, directed by Vladimír Michálek), Cesta pustým lesem (The Way Through the Bleak Woods - 1997, directed by Ivan Vojnár), Nejasná zpráva o konci sveta (An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World - 1997, directed by Juraj Jakubisko) and Kousek nebe (A Little Peace Of Heaven - 2005, directed by Petr Nikolaev).