With government subsidies now minuscule, Czech filmmakers look to television for key financing, as their Western European counterparts have long done. They look for financing abroad--"Kolya" has some French and English money behind it--and for private investors.
Although he may be luckier than most Czech filmmakers when it comes to financing, Jan said most Czech private investors do it "for the prestige," without hope of a return. He said that before the revolution, Czech audiences saw only the best American pictures but that after it, their screens became saturated with Hollywood's lesser efforts as well. He added that this has had the effect of turning off audiences from moviegoing while perversely making it extremely difficult for most Czech films, of which 20 to 30 are made annually, to get screen time. He believes he has broken through these barriers and hopes that other Czech filmmakers will be able to follow.
As is the case for many talented foreign filmmakers with a film that's been picked up for American distribution, Jan Sverak has already being courted eagerly by Hollywood. He sold Buena Vista International most of the principal world distribution rights to "Kolya" without giving up the remake rights.
"I will raise the financing myself on my next film, even if we shoot in English," said Jan firmly. "That way I can keep my artistic freedom."
As for Zdenek, he laughed when he joked that Sean Connery could play his part in an English-speaking version of "Kolya," if one were ever made.