Up and Down / Horem pádem (Czech Republic, 2004)

directed by Jan Hřebejk, comedy, 108 min, eng subtitles
written by Petr Jarchovský
with Jiří Macháček, Petr Forman, Jan Budař

Goran and Milan are criminals who, while ferrying a truckload of illegal aliens into the Czech Republic, discover that one of their cargo has misplaced a baby; looking to turn a profit wherever they can, they sell the lost child to Lubos and Eman, two petty thieves who run a black-market adoption agency. Among Lubos and Eman's clients are Miluska and Frantisek, a barren and lonely couple who are unable to adopt due to Frantisek's criminal record, which amounts to a bout of drunken foolishness during a soccer game. Meanwhile, Martin is a Czech expatriate living in Australia who comes home for a visit following the death of his father, who abandoned the family before Martin was born. Circumstances prove not to be especially welcoming for Martin; his mother, who has become poisoned with racial hatred, invites two guests for his homecoming dinner, a half-sister he's never met and her mother, who was once Martin's girlfriend.
Up and Down is a mix of drama and black comedy, with a fair amount of social commentary stirred in. The film also exposes many of the failures of the Czech system. Exploitation of the weak is encouraged and "reform" is more of a concept than a reality. When someone like Frantisek truly wants to change, he finds the task to be nearly insurmountable. Frantisek may want to become a decent, productive member of society, but he has been labelled as a soccer hooligan, and he may ultimately have no choice but to play that part.

Czech Lion 2004 (Best Director, Actress in a Leading Role, Film, Screenplay, Film Poster)
IFF Cottbus 2004 (Dialog Award)