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Ice Mother (Bába Z Ledu)
by Marinell Haegelin

Bohdan Sláma | Czech Republic

Traditional Sunday lunch with children and grandchildren is the highlight of Hana’s (Zuzana Kronerová) lonely existence. Yet, every week there’s bickering tug-of-wars between her two self-centered sons no matter what she does. Their wives are worlds apart; the widowed pensioner meekly remains neutral. Routinely fetching grandson Ivánek from school one afternoon, an unrelated stop evolves into Hana selflessly saving a winter swimmer. Grateful, Brona (Pavel Nový) invites them to the group’s upcoming competition, gives Hana fresh eggs and they meet the jealous Adele that “thinks she’s human.” In time, the two are integrated in the group. The attention and the non-bullying that is generously extended to Ivánek (Daniel Vízek) is confidence boosting. Hana starts using lipstick, socializing, romancing, while sidestepping family objections. Until, Sunday lunch includes easy-going Brona, with Adele clucking atop the table: opposition’s bitter. Through Brona’s stimulus, Hana rediscovers a lust for life. The brothers’ problems hit them where it hurts, more-or-less as Hana and Brona’s affair hits a rough patch. Nonetheless, the benefits of winter swimming are Hana’s now.

Bohdan Sláma wrote-directed this delightful generational drama / rom-com. It is the winsome cast, though, that captures our hearts, and how Sláma unpretentiously nor patronizingly allow the characters to unabashedly emerge. Naturalistic photography (Diviš Marek), straightforward editing (Jan Danhel), and well-pitched sound design (Michal Holubec, Marek Poledna) compliment his style, and film. No wonder ICE MOTHER is Czech Republic’s pick for the foreign-language Oscar® category.