Director: Jan Sverak
Screenwriters: Zdenek Sverak, Pavel Taussig

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


On the eve of the Velvet Revolution, a mercenary, has-been musician unexpectedly finds he must finally grow up in Kolya, directed by Jan Svêrák, the foremost member of Czech cinema’s new wave. It’s 1989, and Prague, occupied by the Russians, is on the brink of enormous political changes. For Frantisek Louka, however, concerns are more mundane. Once a renowned cellist in the Czech Philharmonic, Frantisek has been reduced to playing for funerals at the city crematorium and renovating tombstones. He dreams of buying a little Trabant automobile.

Frantisek has enough trouble paying the rent so his dream seems unattainable – until a friendly gravedigger offers to pay Frantisek to marry his Russian niece, who needs Czech papers. Frantisek declines at first, but when he finds out the bride-to-be is young and beautiful, he caves in. The clever ploy doesn’t last long. Suddenly Frantisek’s new wife emigrates to Germany to join her lover, leaving behind her five-year-old son Kolya. Working from a script by his father Zdênek, Svêrák creates a warm and funny portrait of a man who, as the Iron Curtain crumbles around him, experiences a revolution of his own.

— Dimitri Eipides, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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