Tři bratři (Three Brothers)
While this isn’t a Christmas movie per se, it is a fairy tale and fairy tales are to Czech Christmas what Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Snowman are to Anglophone countries. This one follows three brothers, played by Vojtěch Dyk, Tomáš Klus, and Zdeněk Piškula, through three different tales and a series of musical numbers. Narration is provided by beloved Czech actor Zdeněk Svěrák whose son, Jan, directed. Great fun for kids (who may want to cover their eyes when the big bad wolf shows up!).
Pelíšky (Cosy Dens)
Probably one of the most beloved Czech films and soundtracks of all time, Pelišky (Cosy Dens) provides a snapshot of Czech family life leading up to the 1968 Prague Spring. The 1999 film directed by Jan Hřebejk portrays the wonderfully dark and quirky Czech sense of humor toward family and the communist regime. It’s also teeming with Czech Christmas traditions – chlebíčky, carp… and quality Polish spoons.
Anděl Páně and Anděl Páně 2 (Angel of the Lord)
This 2005 film features respected actor Ivan Trojan as the angel Petronel who manages to destroy everything he touches, including his role as the Guardian of the Heavenly Gate. To teach him a lesson God banishes the errant angel to earth where he manages to meet up with Uriah the Devil and continue on with a series of merry mistakes. A sequel, Anděl Páně 2, came out in 2016 and is now streaming on Netflix with English subtitles.
Přijde letos Ježíšek? (Is Jesus Coming this Year?)
This film from 2013 is quite possibly the Czech answer to a Hallmark movie, though given that it’s set in romantic snowy locations throughout the Lesser Town and the Old Town, including a sweeping opening shot of snow-dusted Prague, the rom-com’s holiday appeal is hard to resist. Real-life spouses Josef Abrhám and Libuše Šafránková, famed for her leading role in 1973’s Three Nuts for Cinderella, lead a cast of notables in a tale of two cross-cultural families, many of whose members harbor big secrets, meeting at the holidays.
Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku)
And last but not least, the ultimate Czech Christmas classic, 1973’s Three Nuts for Cinderella can finally be found on Netflix with English subtitles. Adapted from a Božena Němcová story and directed by Václav Vorlíček, it’s a classic version of the Cinderella tale that will be familiar to most, and the wintry forest setting gives it extra appeal. With a memorable score by Karel Svoboda and the late Karel Gott’s stirring rendition of “Kdepak ty ptáčku hnízdo máš” its a must for everyday holiday watchlist.
BONUS FILM: Something must be said for the Czech ski film, a genre all its own which includes the 1983 Sněženky a machři and continues with Snowboarďáci from 2004, which spawned a catchy English-language single for Czech rocker Dan Bárta. These films tend to offer plenty of raunchy, low-brow humor and Špindl is no exception. It follows the travails of a trio of sisters who hit the slopes at the Czech mountain resort of Špindlerův Mlýn. Worth a watch if only for its glimpse into Czech ski culture.
See more picks for Czech holiday films in our article 10 Must-Watch Czech Fairy Tales for Christmas.