Champions (2004) 1h 23min · Comedy, Drama · 1 April 2004
Ice hockey is a Czech national obsession, and the country's victory over Russia in the 1969 World Championships, the year following the Soviet invasion, is a celebrated moment in its history. In Marek Najbrt's black comedy, the heroic exploits take place only on a black and white tv screen as a group of representative misfits gather and watch the game in a desolate village on the Czech border. Fuelled by the prophetic visions of an alcoholic, the self-obsessed fans - the owner of a failed pub; a bigoted invalid, Jarda; the neurotic Pavel; Josef (who hopes his father wasn't a Roma); and the bus driver who provides their only link with the outside world - follow a much less successful course than the national team. Alongside them are Zdena, the publican's wife, who hopes for a better life, and a local Sudeten German, who was dispossessed following the war. While consisting of recognisable types, Najbrt's bleak portrait reveals a world of alcoholism, debt, racism, bigotry, and infidelity that trails behind the dreams of nationalism and bears little resemblance to the fantasies of the new consumerism. A clever and multi-levelled film, it provides a sharp antidote to the reconciliatory charms of the conventional Czech comedy. - Written by 2004 London Film Festival
Director(s): Marek Najbrt Cast: Klára Melíšková, Will Spoor, Jiří Ornest
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