The Academy Awards nominations are out, and two films made in the Czech Republic were noticed. Jojo Rabbit has six nominations, and the animated short “Dcera” has one. The war drama The Painted Bird, which was the Czech submission for Best International Feature Film, was snubbed, however.
Local audiences can see Jojo Rabbit in theaters starting January 23. Director and writer Taika Waititi’s other directing credits include the Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok, the New Zealand adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and the horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows. Prague’s kino Aero will be holding a two-day retrospective of his work, with Jojo Rabbit but not including Thor: Ragnarok, on January 23 and 24.
Jojo Rabbit had its world premiere at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2019, where it won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. The film was also nominated for two Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy but did not win.
For the Academy Awards, Jojo Rabbit was nominated for Best Picture, while Scarlett Johannson was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Waititi for Best Adapted Screenplay. The other nominations were in technical categories: Tom Eagles for editing, Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková for production design, and Mayes C. Rubeo for costume design.
The awards will be announced in Hollywood on February 9 at a gala ceremony. If the film wins Best Picture, producers Carthew Neal and Waititi will accept the prize.
In the Best Film category, Jojo Rabbit faces eight other films including Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, 1917, and The Irishman. The most nominations went to Joker, with 11.
In a perhaps telling sign, Waititi was overlooked in the Best Director category as there are nine nods for Best Picture and just five for Best Director. Often, the same film wins both categories.
Johannson was also nominated for Best Actress in Marriage Story, which may split the vote for her. These are her first Oscar nominations. The last time an actor or actress was nominated twice in the same year was Cate Blanchett in 2008. She did not win for either role.
Jojo Rabbit was filmed in and around the towns Žatec and Úštěk in the Ústí nad Labem region and at Barrandov Studios. The action takes place in a town in Germany in the waning days of World War II, and focuses on the relationship of a 10-year-old boy and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by writer / director Waititi.
The boy, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), believes the anti-Semitic propaganda, while his mother, Rosie (Johannson) does not and has to hide her efforts to support the resistance.
The film blends broad comedy with the horrors of war. Veteran comic actors Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson have supporting roles as Nazis. Waititi, who has Jewish ancestry, gives a comic rendition of a boy’s fantasy of Hitler.
The other film to be nominated is “Dcera” (Daughter) by Daria Kashcheeva, for Best Animated Short Film. It was made at FAMU and co-produced by MAUR film, with support from the Czech Film Fund. The film deals with a woman coming to terms with a trauma from the past and her efforts to express her feelings.