Reflecting the recent upswing in Czech producers' fortunes, Prague-based independent production outfit Negativ has revealed further details of a bulging development slate.

Negativ representatives have been in Rotterdam this week attending CineMart with new project Country Teacher by Bohdan Slama. The $1.7m feature, already supported by Pallas Film in German, is being backed by Why Not Productions in France. Why Not will also handle its French release.

The film, which has received MEDIA support and Czech Film Fund development backing, is in pre-production. Shooting begins in the summer. Sales agents are circling the film, mindful of the success that Slama's previous feature Something Like Happiness (sold by Wild Bunch) enjoyed on the festival circuit and in the marketplace. Pavel Liska, who also appeared in Something Like Happiness, is to star.

The company has several other projects in advanced development. Among these is Marek Najbrt's Protektor, set in WWII-era Prague, which may also shoot this year. The project has had development support from the Czech Film Fund and from MEDIA. Pre-production is underway and the aim is to shoot by the end of the year. Other Negativ projects edging closer to production include Petr Vaclav's Never Alone, Michaela Pavlatova's Children Of The Night and Sasa Gedeon's Key To The Dream. Meanwhile, Negativ is also pushing ahead with ambitious new project Alois Nebel, based on a cult graphic novel.

Negativ's co-founder Pavel Strnad was one of the most outspoken critics of the Czech Government last year when it failed to pass a long-awaited law to boost the coffers of the Czech Film Fund. However, he has been striking an optimistic note about current prospects.

Czech politicians are currently hammering out a new film law. In the meantime, they have more than doubled the amount available to the Czech Film Fund this year. 'We hope to raise the Fund to $20m,' Strnad commented of the long-term goal.

Another reason for confidence, he suggested, is the number of Czech films chosen for next month's Berlinale. These include Jiri Menzel's I Served The King Of England in the main competition, David Ondricek's Grandhotel in Panorama, and Petr Nikolaev's And It's Gonna Get Worse in The Forum.