Milos Forman's latest movie hit by cash crisis

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The Independent Culture

At 77, two-time Oscar-winning director Milos Forman is abuzz with projects and still making movies, but says cash is hard to come by thanks to the credit crunch.

The "Amadeus" and "One Flew Over A Cuckoo's Nest" director began work last year with friend and former Czech president Vaclav Havel on a geo-political movie of sorts revolving around the 1938 Munich agreement that helped shape World War II.

But Forman, briefly in France for a festival in his honour before flying to Italy to head this week's Rome film festival jury, said "The Ghost of Munich" was in limbo and shooting delayed due to lack of funds.

"The crisis is making it more difficult to finance movies," said bespectacled Forman, puffing on a large cigar in a plush hotel suite after a bumpy sleepless flight from New York. "We're trying to find funds" for the feature, budgeted at between 10 to 20 million dollars and to be shot in Germany and France.

Forman's last finished film production turned out "a very sentimental" journey, he said, that sent him home to work for the first time on a project in his native land, the Czech Republic, and around one of his favourite themes, music.

"Music is as important in a movie as the spoken word," said the film-maker who also directed "Hair". "The words, they work on our intellect, but music works on our emotions."

His Prague-made movie, "A Walk Worthwhile", is the film version of a pop opera theatre production dating back to the 1960s, which he directed this year at the city's prestigious National Theatre. The film of the musical was shown in Prague this year but has not been released elsewhere.

"It drove me crazy the difference between directing film and theatre when rehearsing," he said. "With film, once you're happy with a shoot, it's there. But in the theatre one day it's this and the other it's that. It's always changing.

"It made me nervous as hell! It's a different kind of excitement."

One of Hollywood's few successful foreign directors, Forman fled the former Czechoslovakia in 1968, making regular trips home only after the collapse of communism.

"I shot 'Amadeus' in Prague but with a US crew. To return to work at our National Theatre on a play I saw when I was young, and with a Czech crew, I was tickled," he said.

"I quickly realised I had to cut myself off emotionally to work. But it was great and very sentimental."

Forman, already an influential film-maker before going into exile, said the state of Czech film was fine, with lots of new talent and some good movies.

But asked whether he would return, he said: "I'll go wherever a story takes me. But move to Europe, that's unsure."

"My children are American and still in school," said Forman, three times married. "I don't know what I am. I don't like to analyse myself."

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