A timely metaphor for failing democracy, Jiří Havelka’s THE OWNERS takes a seriocomic look at the most local form of self-governance: the co-op apartment building meeting. It includes a curious cast of characters, all of whom own apartments in the same building in Prague, as they attempt to tolerate each others’ presence long enough to try and make some important decisions about the building’s future. Mrs. Zahrádková (Teresa Ramba) wants to save the old crumbling building she shares with other apartment owners. She hopes to find supporters for her plan in young newlyweds with their idealistic enthusiasm, who have just moved in and are astonished by the co-owners’ inability to agree on anything. Mrs. Roubíčková (Klára Melíšková) vigilantly controls the proper course of the meeting, not allowing the slightest deviation from the rules; Mrs. Procházková and her proclaimed business partner Mr. Novak are looking for ways to increase the value of their property by subletting the apartment to African students; Mr. Nitranský tries to get a hold of the attic to expand his own flat; and frustrated Mr. Kubát sabotages any and all decisions. Will the neighbors reach an agreement, or will the building become the casualty of their self-centered interests? Director Jiří Havelka (Prague Orgies, Desperate People) joins us for a conversation on his personal connection to the story, pulling together a cast of terrific actors and how striking the right tone to accentuate the dramatic and comedic elements that make THE OWNERS work so beautifully.
Opens 8/25/23 Laemmle’s Royal, West Los Angeles, CA
Opens 8/25/23 Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL
Big World Pictures is proud to present THE OWNERS, a film written and directed by Jiří Havelka. Winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actress award at the 27th Czech Lion Awards and winner of two Czech Film Critics’ Awards, THE OWNERS was based on a play, The Society of Owners, which Havelka also wrote and directed. The film will open at Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on August 25.
About the filmmaker – Respected theater director, playwright, actor and and film director Jiří Havelka is also a founding personality of the TV station Óčko. He is also the main creative personality of the Vosto5 theater based on improvisation (Pérák, Proton or the Society of Owners) and also organizes the Festival of Cute Playwrights. He is also one of the founders of the civic association JSAF – the organizer of the International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava, where he comes from. After graduating from the Jihlava grammar school, he studied directing at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theater at the DAMU in Prague. Already during his studies he started acting and directing in Prague’s Ypsilonka and in several other theaters, e.g. Dejvické Divadlo. In 2007, he won the Alfréd Radok Award as talent of the year. He appears as an actor in many films, e.g. in the tragicomedies Desperate People (2009) and Tiger Theory (2016), in the comedy Po čem muži touží (2018) or in the tragicomedies Mars (2018) or Prague Orgies (2019). Viewers also know him from the TV series, e.g. Up to the ears (2014- 2017). The Owners is his film debut under which he is signed as a screenwriter and director.
“As the frustration of the group gets more intense and the issues get more controversial … it becomes clear that the film is making a larger point about the inability of governments, citizens, human beings, to solve long-term problems.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
“Comic gold…the script is top-notch, the performances terrific, the timing perfect…If only Hollywood still made them like this!” – American Spectator
“The universality of personalities and intentions is like every HOA Board Meeting – but more amusing because it’s not yours. This lets the audience have the distance to see the human comedy in their interactions for an allegory of any capitalist society.” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest
“It’s a home or condo-owner’s nightmare of sincere, smart and reasonable people outnumbered by obstinate skinflints, greedheads, obstructionists and shortsighted idiots. Sound like any voting/elected bodies you know?” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“The film took home three Czech Lions and two Czech Film Critics’ Awards, and with fine performances from the leading cast, sharp dialogue, and painfully relevant political overtones, it’s not difficult to see why..Beneath the dry wit and jaded, world-weary cynicism, and even before we reach the obligatory bittersweet, tragicomic ending, there is some profound allegory at work in Vlastníci, familiar from the brave and subversive Czech comedies of the 1960s, by which, with a choice phrase here, a verbal nod-and-a-wink there, Havelka holds a mirror up to Czech society… and doesn’t reflect its best side.” – Czech Film Review