Petr Zelenka's part-fiction musical documentary Year Of The Devil took top prizes at the Czech Lions, the Czech Film and Television Academy's awards for the best Czech films of 2002, at a ceremony in Prague over the weekend.
Zelenka's black comedy won six awards, including Best Film and Best Director - the director's second win in both categories - following up on its win of the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival last July and the main prize at the Trieste Film Festival in January.
The film follows the travails of a group of musicians, playing themselves, as they confront alcoholism and other troubles, both fictive and real, such as spontaneous combustion and ghosts that haunt their performance stage. A multilingual romp though the states of mind of various characters, Year Of The Devil also won awards for best editing, best sound and best music.
The film, the most successful Czech movie of last year with 210,000 admissions, has not been screened in general distribution outside the Czech Republic, and observers have noted it may be a tough sell due to its highly localised appeal.
Year Of The Devil beat out Alice Nellis's Some Secrets, the winner of the 150,000-euro New Directors award at the San Sebastian Film Festival in September. Writer-director Nellis took home the award for Best Screenplay on Saturday for her script about a Czech family returning a late father's ashes to his hometown in Slovakia.
Year Of The Devil's festival wins and its sweep of the awards increases the standing of Zelenka as one of the most prominent Czech directors. Zelenka burst onto the scene as a representative of the 'new generation' of Czech filmmakers with the highly acclaimed Buttoners in 1997, a film that also won the Czech lion for Best Picture and Best Director that year.
Zelenka also co-wrote 2000's Loners, a Czech urban comedy directed by David Ondricek detailing the ups and downs of the generation of urban Czechs that came of age following the 1989 fall of communism.