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Surviving Life

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Surviving Life
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJan Švankmajer
Written byJan Švankmajer
Produced byJaromír Kallista
StarringVáclav Helšus
Klára Issová
Zuzana Kronerová
Emília Došeková
Daniela Bakerová
CinematographyJan Růžička
Juraj Galvánek
Edited byMarie Zemanová
Music byAlexandr Glazunov
Jan Kalinov
C-GA Film
Distributed byBontonfilm
Release dates
  • 7 September 2010 (2010-09-07) (Venice Film Festival)
  • 4 November 2010 (2010-11-04) (Czech Republic)
Running time
109 minutes
CountriesCzech Republic
Budget35 million

Surviving Life (Czech: Přežít svůj život) is a 2010 Czech comedy film by Jan Švankmajer, starring Václav Helšus, Klára Issová and Zuzana Kronerová. The film uses a mix of cutout animation from photographs and live-action segments, and tells the story of a married man who lives a double life in his dreams, where he meets another woman. It premiered out of competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.



The film was co-produced by Athanor and the Slovak company C-GA Film, with participation of Česká televize and UPP. It received eight million korun from the Czech State Fund for Support and Development of Cinematography and around six million korun from Eurimages. Additional support was granted by the MEDIA Programme.[1][2] The production involved a total budget of 35 million korun.[1] Animation work was done by an international team at Švankmajer's studio in Knovíz, just outside Prague.[3] The film uses Alexander Glazunov's Concert Waltz No.1 in D,op 47 as opening and ending theme.


Surviving Life premiered on 7 September 2010 out of competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.[4] It was subsequently shown at several festivals including the London Film Festival.[5] Bontonfilm released it in the Czech Republic on 4 November 2010.[6]


Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called Švankmajer a "grand master not just of innovative animation techniques but of life itself", and wrote that the director "is at the height of his filmmaking powers as director, artistic director and storyteller here." Young also noted, however, that the film's complex narrative and unconventional imagery "will not be everyone's cup of tea."[7] Variety's Leslie Felperin complimented the chemistry between Helšus and Issová, and noted how the film was more similar to Czech mainstream comedies than what normally would be expected from the director: "For all the grotesquerie on display (and there's hardly anything here as disturbing as Svankmajer's imagery in Alice from 1988), pic feels much lighter in tone than the helmer's last few films, such as Lunacy, Greedy Guts (aka Little Otik), or Conspirators of Pleasure."[8]

Švankmajer won the Czech Lion for Best Art Direction for the film.[9] It was also nominated for Best Director and Best Sound.[10]


  1. ^ a b Czech News Agency (2010-08-13). "Nový Švankmajerův film bude mít premiéru na festivalu v Benátkách". iHNed.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  2. ^ "Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)". filmcenter.cz. Czech Film Center. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  3. ^ Spáčilová, Mirka (2009-08-03). "Švankmajer natáčí světový unikát: animuje fotografie herců". iDNES.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  4. ^ "Out of Competition: Přežít svůj život (Surviving Life) - Jan Švankmajer". labiennale.org. Archived from the original on 2024-06-02. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  5. ^ "54th BFI London Film Festival: Film on the Square". bfi.org. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 2024-06-02. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
  6. ^ "Přežít svůj život (teorie a praxe)". Česko-Slovenská filmová databáze (in Czech). POMO Media Group. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  7. ^ Young, Deborah (2010-09-22). "Surviving Life -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  8. ^ Felperin, Leslie (2010-09-07). "Surviving Life Review". Variety. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  9. ^ Franklin, Anna (2011-03-07). "Radim Spacek's Walking Too Fast Scoops Top Prizes at Czech Lions". Film New Europe. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
  10. ^ Zemanová, Irena (2011-02-21). "Walking Too Fast Leads Czech Lion Nominations". Film New Europe. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2011-03-07.

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