The Bata Shoe Museum was the site for the Czech Film party on Friday night, and one of those happy accidents resulted from my attending. Industry vet and former Florida Film Festival juror TC Rice is up here doing publicity for Jan Sverak’s EMPTIES, and made it a point to introduce me to the Oscar-winning director (KOLYA). Tickets were offered for the first public screening shortly after the party, and I’m glad I had`the opportunity to take in a totally unexpected,non-press & industry screening for a change, where filmmakers are usually in attendance for Q & A. EMPTIES (4-stars) is the fourth collaboration between the director and his father, Zdenek, who not only stars but wrote the screenplay as well. It’s a lovely and extremely funny comedy about growing old gracefully, relationships, and how retirement isn’t for everyone. The elder Sverak plays an aging high school teacher who ups and quits one day, then finds himself increasingly restless as he stays home with his wife of 30 years. After a series of attempts at other employment, this busybody finds his niche working in the bottle return department of a supermarket. There he can get the human interaction he craves to stay young, not to mention futher indulging in his daydreams and fantasies about train sex.
Charming, wise, laugh-out-loud funny, and very “Czech,” EMPTIES is a sweet film that should appeal to even young adult audiences, though it obviously will have more resonance with an older one (perfect for Florida!). I would not be at all surprised to see it get picked up by some smart distributor.