Prague-Shot Borg/McEnroe to Open Toronto Film Festival
Perfect casting? Controversial Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf plays controversial tennis great John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe, a Swedish production that charts the rivalry between the American player and arch rival Bjorn Borg, played by Sverrir Gudnason.
Directed by Janus Metz Pedersen from a script by Ronnie Sandahl, Borg/McEnroe was filmed in both Sweden and Prague locations last summer, with a large portion of principal photography taking place at Prague’s underused Štvanice tennis complex, located on the island between Florenc and Holešovice.
Perhaps the best-known courts in the Czech Republic, the Štvanice complex held the country’s first Davis Cup in 1921 and saw many of the Czech tennis greats rise to fame over the years.
In 1986, Czech emigre Martina Navratilova famously returned to the country to participate in the 1986 Fed Cup on Štvanice.
In August of 2002 - fifteen years ago this month - the complex was heavily damaged by the floods that wreaked havoc through Prague. While the smaller courts are still home to many of Prague’s tennis pros, current owners intend to completely rebuild the main stadium.
But the disused stadium proved to be the perfect location for the production of Borg/McEnroe last summer. While the tennis greats never clashed themselves in Prague, the Štvanice stadium fills in for the Centre Court Arena in Wimbledon, where the two battled in 1980.
(Spoiler alert: Borg won that match, but the official tally of the 14 tournaments where the duo faced off against each other stands at 7-7.)
Prague shooting was handled by local production company Sirena Film.
A trailer for Borg/McEnroe was released earlier this summer, and last week it was announced that the film would be the opening night affair at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, which typically unveils many Oscar-season favorites.
“Borg/McEnroe has a powerful tension about it that is on par with the electric energy of Toronto on opening night,” said TIFF director Piers Handling.
“The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will be a spectacular way for festival-goers to kick things off."
Borg/McEnroe will open in Sweden on September 6. US and Czech release dates have yet to be confirmed.