Jára lives in a cramped apartment with his wife, Jana, their toddler, and Véna, his teenage son from a previous marriage. A man who has never actually grown up, Jára loses his job at a factory when he’s caught smoking pot, and his wife’s patience is wearing thin. Jára spends too much time with his friend, Karel, an oddball, New Age mystic. Jana, meanwhile, tries to connect with Véna, who has started drinking, skipping school, and hanging out with some disaffected punks. Nevertheless, Jára decides to go along on a road trip to find Karel’s spiritual master.
Bohdan Sláma’s sensibility stems from a tender view of ordinary people and their inability to see themselves. Like Mike Leigh, Sláma uncannily creates characters that are distinctive, even eccentric, without seeming contrived. Although his characters wrestle with selfishness, infidelity, and despair, they share an inexplicable, innate optimism; a glimpse of inner light. In this delicately framed reflection on happiness, Sláma constructs a story that feels effortless and even magical. Maybe Karel’s mystic stones aren’t so far off the mark. –Sundance Film Festival
Bohdan Sláma (b. 1967, Opava, Czechoslovakia) is one of the Czech Republic’s most successful post-revolution directors. He graduated from Prague’s FAMU with the film White Acacias (Akáty bílé, 1996), and he now works externally at the school as a teacher. His film The Wild Bees (Divoké včely, 2001) won the Rotterdam and San Francisco festivals. A year later he filmed a segment of the story showcase Radhošť. Something Like Happiness (Štěstí, 2005) won the main prize at San Sebastian and brought Sláma Czech Lion awards for Best Film and Direction. The Country Teacher (Venkovský učitel, 2008) was screened at the Venice IFF in its international premiere, and Sláma was included on Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” list. The spiritual drama Four Suns is the first Czech film to compete at Sundance. —KVIFF