The Dying Swan: The Intimate Portrait of a Ballerina Dominates the Golden Prague Awards

Grand Prix Authored by: Česká televize

Fear from retirement, health problems, a body that needs ever longer to regenerate: Zenaida Yanowsky, the former prima ballerina of the Royal Ballet, must cope with all of these. The British director Glen Milner made her the theme of his intimate portrait, and he dominated this year's 56th Golden Prague Awards. Also, a film about the Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek has received a price.

Zenaida Yanowsky plans to undergo knee surgery and regenerate her body enough to perform one of her most famous ballet solos: The Dying Swan. “Glen Milner is offering an exceptional insight into the ballerina's private world through his simple way of story-telling. The Dying Swan is an intimate portrait of the artist at an emotionally demanding stage in her life. With expressive austerity, but at the same time in an extremely impressive way, the documentary presents a strong and moving story,” states the justification of the five-member jury headed by Swedish director Jonas Hermansson. This film won in competition with another 86 films from 19 countries; it was produced in collaboration with London's leading dance theater Sadler's Wells and has been aired by the BBC.

The viewers of the Czech television channel ČT art will be able to see it immediately after the Award Ceremony. In the course of the following year, Czech Television will also broadcast the other awarded films.

Submitted films from 51 producers and television companies internationally competed in three more categories: The Czech Crystal Award - Recordings of Concert Performance films went to Austria for the recording of a summer night concert in Schönbrunn in which the Vienna Philharmonic performed with Anna Netrebko. The category of Documentary Programmes Dedicated to Music, Dance and Theater was won by The Unanswered Ives, a first film about Charles Ives, the modern age composer of the USA. And The Czech Crystal Award for Recordings of Stage Work goes to Sweden for Play at Garnier, which according to the jury's statement captures besides the creativity of choreographer Alexander Ekman the joy of the dancers on stage.

This year, the Czech Television collaborated altogether on eleven of the competing films. The award of the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 was received by Roman Vávra for the co-production documentary about conductor Jiří Bělohlávek: “But I Just Love Conducting So Much…”. Dagmar Havlová highlighted the intimate tone of the portrait depicting the former Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in an important and also the final stage of his life. Against the background of rehearsals, concerts, interviews and reflections, including yet unpublished archive footage, this film presents Jiří Bělohlávek's fateful ties with the Czech Philharmonic and bears witness to the artist's lifelong passion and devotion to music and his profession.

The raw Norwegian documentary The Men's Room on the frailty of life illustrated by the story of a men's choir of twenty-five rough men, often with the appearance of aging rock singers, won the Czech Television Award. German director Joachim A. Lang received special recognition for an outstanding artistic achievement for his bold film interpretation of Brecht's The Beggar's Opera.

At this year's Golden Prague Film Festival, it took for the five-member jury over 102 hours to watch all 87 submitted films, among which were awarded eight prizes in total.