The Czech Film Fund is the main public financing body for cinema in the Czech Republic. The Fund supports all stages of film production, as well as promotion, distribution and other film-related areas. It also administers production incentives for audio-visual projects made in the Czech Republic. Apart from financing, the fund also includes two divisions for international activities: the Czech Film Center and the Czech Film Commission. The Czech Film Center promotes and markets Czech films and the local film industry worldwide. It collaborates with major international film festivals and co-production platforms and utilizes a global network of partners, seeking opportunities for creative exchange between Czech filmmakers and their international counterparts. The Czech Film Commission promotes the country with its film infrastructure as one of the world’s top destinations for audio-visual production. As a comprehensive resource for filming in the Czech Republic, the commission provides incoming filmmakers with consultation, guidance, and contacts.
Markéta Šantrochová Head of Czech Film Center e-mail: email@example.com tel.:+420 724 329 948
Barbora Ligasová Festival Relations-Feature Films e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel.: +420 778 487 863
Vítězslav Chovanec Festival RelationsDocumentary & Short Films e-mail: email@example.com tel.: +420 778 487 864
anuary 2019 marks the start of the Czech Film Fund’s seventh year in existence. I would contend that, in the last six years, the fund has become a stable state institution and a partner of equal standing to similar institutions abroad. Through stabilized, compound financing, support for all kinds of genres and formats, independence and transparency in grant adjudication, and, not least,
through the high level of funding provided to minority (and other) coproduction films over the last three years, the fund has been able to help Czech producers collaborate on attractive European projects. The Czech Republic may be a small country, but it is a great one. And it is a country of great film talents: Miloš Forman, Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman, František Vláčil, Věra Chytilová, Jan Švankmajer, Helena Třeštíková, Jan Svěrák, as well as many others. We are a country with a cinematic tradition, and with prospects for the future. Over the last seven years, I have tried on a daily basis to keep the fund ready to support the incredible talent we are gifted with. Thanks in particular to the increased financial resources available since 2016, it has been possible to give bigger grants to many uniquely interesting projects that await distribution this year, which I believe will bear out my hopes for the wonderful talent our country has to offer. Helena Bezděk Fraňková, Director, Czech Film Fund
IN PRODUCTION /
Medieval, directed and produced by Petr Jákl, is the most expensive Czech film ever made
ROTTERDAM IFF /
Animated short Apart and experimental performance Taran selected for Rotterdam IFF
12 INDUSTRY /
Czech Film 2018: Pop Comedies Lead Box Office; Festivals Boast Originality, Authenticity
6 8 BERLINALE IFF /
The Kite, a short animated film by Martin Smatana, selected for Generation Kplus
16 2 Czech Film Now 4 NETFLIX’S FIRST CZECH DIRECTOR 22 IN PRODUCTION / NATIONAL STREET 33 MILOŠ FORMAN DOCUMENTARY 35 FILMS TO COME
he year 2019 marks a big anniversary for our young democracy: In November, we will celebrate 30 years since the Velvet Revolution. What has happened in Czech society over the past 30 years is shown through the lens of the working class in National Street, the second feature by talented director Štepán Altrichter (see page 22). Petr Jákl has set on a journey to deepen history— working with a splendid international cast, including Michael Caine, Ben Foster, and Til Schweiger, in his tribute to a 15th-century Bohemian hero, Medieval (see page 12). Rotterdam IFF and Berlinale IFF are presenting three short or experimental works by young filmmakers—including the animated documentary Apart, about life after the loss of a loved one. The film is directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen, a student at FAMU in Prague whose short The Little One will also compete during the Berlinale for the European Children’s Film Association Doc Award.
The experimental movie Taran, an audiovisual performance with live sound, by filmmaking trio Týmal/Rouš/Šmitmajer, will also be premiering at Rotterdam IFF (see page 6). Last but not least, The Kite, an animated short by Slovak director Martin Smatana, celebrates its world premiere at Berlinale Generation in February (see page 8). Young talent Jan Pavlacký has distinguished himself by becoming Netflix’s first director in the Czech Republic, working for the streaming giant on Haunted, stories of supernatural encounters (see page 4). By the way, Netflix has another series with a Czech crew in the works right now (The Letter for the King). In this issue, we also take a look back at the just finished year of 2018, presenting an overview of what’s been dished up, as well as what’s cooking, in Czech cinema (see page 16). And there’s more to come! Enjoy the issue, and stay tuned! Markéta Šantrochová Head of the Czech Film Center Czech Film Fund
A Certain Kind of Silence
Czech Projects and Producers at When East Meets West Two Czech projects and one coproduction were selected to join the ninth edition of When East Meets West (WEMW), the Italian coproduction forum taking place January 20–22 in the frame of the Trieste Film Festival: Brotherhood by Francesco Montagner, produced by nutprodukce, Year of the Widow by Veronika Lišková, produced by Artcam Films, and Slovak-Czech Victim by Michal Blaško. Plus, the Czech Republic was one of the focus countries of 2019 edition, spotlighting the territories of Central Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine) and Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands). As a case study, this year’s coproduction market looked at A Certain Kind of Silence, Michal Hogenauer’s freshly finished feature debut. The Czech-Latvian-Dutch coproduction was shot in Riga, and was presented in Trieste by Czech producer Petr Oukropec of Negativ, together with his Dutch coproducer, Lisette Kelder. The Czech Film Fund, as a WEMW partner, also supported the participation of several Czech producers experienced in coproduction and looking for new projects: Julietta Sichel (8Heads Productions), Artemio Benki (Sirena Film/Artcam Films), Radovan Síbrt (PINK), Pavla Janoušková Kubečková (nutprodukce), Alice Tabery (Cinepoint), and Miloš Lochman (moloko film).
Czech Participation in Netflix Historical Series The Letter for the King Film Kolektiv and Unit+Sofa production companies will both participate in the Dutch coming-of-age series The Letter for the King, based on Tonke Dragt’s bestselling medieval adventure novel. The Englishlanguage series, the streaming service’s first Dutch book adaptation, just wrapped shooting in New Zealand and moved to Prague in early 2019. UK-based FilmWave acquired the international television rights in a deal with Amsterdam-based publishing house Leopold. Netflix will release globally.
The Letter for the King is set in a world full of adventure and intrigue, where no one wants to be a knight more than Tiuri (Amir Wilson), who is tasked with delivering a top-secret letter on which the fate of the entire kingdom depends. On their journey, he and his young friends will discover just how much it takes to become a true knight, and just how much the broken adult world needs them to fix it.
Shooting of Agnieszka Holland’s Charlatan In December 2018, the first week of shooting took place in Prague (locations in Josefov and Senovážné náměstí) on Charlatan, directed by Agnieszka Holland and produced by Šárka Cimbalová – Marlene Film Production. The project, based on a screenplay by Marek Epstein and presented in 2017 at the Berlinale Co-Production Market, is a Czech-Irish-Slovak coproduction, with the participation of Czech Television and Barrandov Studios. Shooting will continue in spring 2019 and the movie will be completed in January 2020, with the premiere slated for February 20, 2020. Ivan Trojan stars in this story about an unorthodox healer balancing on the edge between good and evil as he battles with his own demons. Director Holland will be joined by her collaborators from Burning Bush: DoP Martin Štrba, editor Pavel Hrdlička, and set designer Milan Býček.
Czech Partnership With Les Arcs The Czech Film Fund continued its partnership with Les Arcs Film Festival (December 15–22), bringing to France four Czech producers with extensive experience in international coproductions. The Czech Film Center, on behalf of the CFF, selected these producers to
© Marlene Film Production
Czech Film Now
Shooting of Charlatan
Synopsis: Few true stories tread the thin line of good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th-century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. Mikolášek won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for diagnosis. But his passion for healing welled up from the same source as a lust for cruelty, sadism, and an incapacity for love that only one person could ever quell: his assistant, František. As a show trial threatens to pry open these secrets and undo him, Jan’s dichotomies are put to a final test, with the fate of his life’s only love in the balance. A personal tale as replete with twists as the century itself, and a reflection on the price one pays for the privilege of genius.
participate in the festival and take part in the program of the coproduction market: Pavel Strnad, of Negativ, whose projects include Ice Mother and Alois Nebel, as well as the upcoming National Street and A Certain Kind of Silence (the latter of which presented as a work in progress at Les Arcs in 2017); Monika Kristl, of Dawson Films (Three Seasons in Hell and the nearly finished On the Roof);
Danny Holman, of Bionaut (Places and the upcoming Rosa & Dara and Their Great Summer Adventure); and Dagmar Sedláčková of MasterFilm (Good Death, Bille, Reconstruction and Taran). In addition, director and producer Ivan Ostrochovský presented his latest feature, The Disciple, in the Work in Progress session. The film—produced by Ostrochovský’s Punkchart Films (Slovakia) in coproduction with Point Film (Romania), Negativ (Czech Republic), and Film & Music Entertainment (Ireland)—tells the story of two friends, Michal and Juraj, who apply to study at a Roman Catholic seminary as a way to escape the moral devastation of society in Communist Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, two Czech minority coproductions—Spoor by Agnieszka Holland, and Fugue by Agnieszka Smoczyńska—were presented as part of Focus Poland.
introducing NETFLIX’S FIRST CZECH DIRECTOR
Haunted by Talented Czechs Halloween still isn’t commonly celebrated in the Czech Republic, but last October marked a special occasion for Czechs as streaming giant Netflix premiered Haunted, the platform’s first series shot in Bohemia, with a Czech director and mostly Czech crew. by Iva Přivřelová
The whole thing started in December 2017, when Pavlacký was approached by Tomáš Krejčí, co-owner of Milk & Honey Pictures. This well-established
independent film production company was hired to create Haunted in the Czech Republic by Propagate Production, developer of the original idea for the series, advertised as a show where “real people sit down with friends and family to share true stories of terrifying events that continue to haunt them, shown here via vivid recreations.” The chance to work for Netflix was a huge opportunity for Pavlacký, and he gave it his best shot. “I sent them my reel, where I had some things that were similar to Haunted in terms of theme and genre. Then it took about three weeks for them to confirm me for the first two episodes. In between, there were a lot of conference calls, plus I had to deliver a treatment, with text, photos, and references explaining how I imagined all the different components.
I think that’s what tipped the scales in my favor,” Pavlacký told the Czech online magazine Aktuálně.cz. “Of course, for them it’s cheaper to hire a Czech director, since you don’t have to buy a plane ticket and pay for a hotel and the fee is different than an American
he California-based Netflix recently introduced two European shows to its worldwide audience: the German sci-fi thriller series Dark and the Polish alt-history series 1983. What makes Haunted different is that the show is in English—some of its stories of supernatural encounters even take place in the US—yet it was all shot in and around Prague by the crew of Czech director Jan Pavlacký, known up to now mainly for his commercials, music videos, and the dark short BKA 49-77, winner of the UK Film Festival’s Best Script Award.
salary would be,” Pavlacký added, explaining why Netflix hired him. Still, the decision to entrust a Czech team with the entire six-part miniseries— created in the US and conceived in the typical US genre of docudrama—was far from straightforward. “It’s common for a foreign director, sometimes with a cameraman and other key crew, to come to Prague to shoot. Haunted was different. Right up until the last minute, there was talk that a US director might come. In the end, it was just showrunner Jordan Roberts who oversaw everything,” Pavlacký told Aktuálně.cz. Ultimately, Pavlacký got the green light to shoot all six episodes and spent eight months working on Haunted. “Initially, Netflix didn’t want the whole thing directed by one person, since each story is a little bit different. So at first, they just hired me for two episodes. Then for another two, and then all of them. Which ended up being practical, since we spent the last few days in the studio, shooting scenes for several episodes at once.”
Netflix still supervised the director’s choice of crew, asking to see showreels for his DoP, architect, makeup artist, etc. “I discussed everything with them, including the cast,” Pavlacký said. “We had no problems, but, for example, when I was choosing actors, I had to offer them two backups, in addition to my favorite.”
For Haunted’s talking roles, Pavlacký cast US and British actors living and working in the Czech Republic, and on set they spoke mostly English, even though the crew and most of the rest of the cast were Czech. “It felt like an international production,” said the director in an interview with dlgimmigration.com. All of the stories in Haunted, from the tale of a boy haunted by visions of a ghostly woman hanging in his closet to a onceprotective spirit that becomes possessive when the young girl who inherited his tombstone meets and marries the love of her life, are set in the US, from upstate New York to Louisiana to California. Pavlacký explained to dlgimmigration. com: “So obviously we had to take special care when choosing locations and sets [. . .] and we shot everything in winter in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, the Czech Republic offers a great choice of scary locations, dark woods, abandoned buildings and—most importantly—very skillful filmmakers accustomed to creating other worlds.”
His own ambition is to work in the US, and he now lives in Los Angeles. “Maybe it isn’t necessary, but it’s definitely worthwhile. If I suddenly find out about something happening in a few days, I can be there. I wouldn’t have time to go to L.A. just for premieres and meetings all the way from Prague,” Pavlacký explained to Aktuálně.cz.
Currently, he’s creating a pilot for a major US TV network, and says working for Netflix definitely helped him get the job. Despite complaints that the platform is stealing viewers from cinemas, dissatisfaction with the limited theatrical release of its movies, and the ban from the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix is an increasingly important player on today’s show business scene, thanks to the success of its films at the last Venice Film Festival and the Oscar buzz for Golden Lion winner Roma, by Alfonso Cuarón.
After Haunted, Pavlacký said he hopes that more big international companies will now be willing to entrust projects entirely to Czech filmmakers, especially since so many foreign films and series are already being shot in the Czech Republic. “Milk & Honey Pictures worked on another horror series—Lore, for Amazon—right after Haunted,” Pavlacký offers by way of example.
“Roma is a black-and-white film in Spanish. Probably no studio in L.A. would have paid for it,” Pavlacký said in an interview with online magazine Filmkult. “Thanks to its subscribers, Netflix can afford to produce things not only for the masses but also exceptional art films that don’t need to make money. This gives established directors enormous freedom.”
Fortunately, he says, he really saw eye to eye with Roberts, who took part in all the discussions and who Pavlacký praised both for his creative and producing skills.
NETFLIX’S FIRST CZECH DIRECTOR
ROTTERDAM IFF Experimental and animation
Distinctive Czech Work
in Rotterdam Two Czech short films have been selected for this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival: the experimental performance Taran, by creative trio David Šmitmajer, Jiří Rouš, and František Týmal; and the animated short Apart, by Diana Cam Van Nguyen.
oth films have previously received awards in the Czech Republic: Taran as Best Czech Experimental Film at the Marienbad Film Festival and Apart as Best Czech Experimental Documentary at the IDFF Jihlava.
be screened in the Voices section at Rotterdam, devoted to works with a powerful voice that examine a captivating theme. Using a combination of animation and documentary footage, Apart deals sensitively with the loss of a loved one and the collision of youth and death.
Life After Loss
Through her choice of genre, Cam Van Nguyen ties in to her previous film, the animated documentary The Little One (2017). Depicting the life of a Vietnamese girl in a small Czech town, this autobiographical work has already
The animated short Apart was directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen, a student in the master’s program at FAMU’s Department of Animation Film, and will
by Hedvika Petrželková
screened at several festivals, and in February it will compete at the Berlinale for the ECFA Doc Award (best documentary film for children). The winner will be announced by the European Children’s Film Association on February 9.
Apart is a short film about life after the loss of a loved one. The narrators’ real experiences, reproduced via family archival footage, alternate with animated sequences reconstructing painful situations and looking into the thoughts of three young people prematurely exposed to death.
ROTTERDAM IFF Experimental and animation
Apart was created at FAMU in a coproduction with the Filmtalent Zlín foundation and the studio Alkay Animation Prague.
Experiment in Flight With their experimental short Taran, creative trio Týmal/Rouš/Šmitmajer follow up on their previous films, Swan Desert (2009) and Boghor Hunting (2012). The project is conceived of as an audiovisual performance with a live audio accompaniment. The filmmakers’
Malina, who thus became the first Czech killed in aerial combat. Using experimental techniques of live animation, Taran reconstructs this event while depicting the transformation of aviation from a noble discipline and symbol of human progress into a destructive weapon that changed the course of warfare. Another focus of the film is the Czech and Slovak pilots who fought in World War I, yet are forgotten today, unlike their counterparts from World War II.
Diana Cam Van Nguyen was born in the Czech Republic in 1993. She has done internships in Birmingham and Lyon, and participated as an artist in residence in MuseumQuartier in Vienna. Her student film at FAMU, The Little One (2017), was shortlisted for the Magnesia Award as best student film of 2017 in the Czech Republic, and screened at many festivals, winning several awards.
intention was to combine historical “found-footage” material with their own photographs, brought to life using a mechanical projection system of their own making. On all of these projects they collaborated with Dagmar Sedláčková, one of the most distinctive young producers in Czech film. She also worked on the short film Reconstruction (2018), which was selected for the IFF Locarno, and Fruit of Clouds (2017), one of the most successful Czech short animated projects in recent years.
The screenplay was cowritten by Cam Van Nguyen and Lukáš Janičík, who also served as editor.
Taran was selected for the 48th edition of the IFF Rotterdam as a “sound/vision” – the festival´s innovative, experimental late-night programme. The performance takes its inspiration from actual events in 1914, when the skies over Zhovkva, Ukraine, witnessed the first ever taran—a combat maneuver in which the pilot intentionally aims his plane at an enemy aircraft with the intention of destroying it. Russian Pyotr Nesterov, a pioneer of aerial acrobatics, at the cost of his own life destroyed an Austrian biplane piloted by František
In terms of genre, Taran could be placed somewhere between animation, documentary, and audiovisual performance. It does not employ classic film narration, characters, or dialogue, instead communicating with the viewer through visual metaphors, sound effects, and soundscapes. Týmal, Rouš, and Šmitmajer all studied at FAMU’s Center for Audiovisual Studies. Taran received support from the Czech Film Fund (€13,462).
BERLINALE IFF The Kite
Death Doesn’t Mean The End The Kite, a short animated film by Martin Smatana, has been selected for the Generation Kplus section of the Berlinale IFF. Smatana is a student in the Animation Department at FAMU.
he Kite tells the story of a little boy from the city who visits his grandfather in the countryside, where together they fly a kite. In the animation, the boy and his grandpa are constructed of layers, symbolizing their age. The boy has many, representing the fact that he has his whole life ahead of him, while his grandfather has only a few layers left—the older he gets, the thinner he is. At the end of his life, the grandfather is as thin as a single sheet of paper, until one day
the wind gently lifts him up and blows him into the sky.
The Kite deals with the issue of death, but does so in a simple, metaphorical way, through the relationship between the little boy and his grandfather. None of us are here forever, and all living creatures must die, the movie explains. But death doesn’t mean the end of our journey. Smatana’s film was produced by Peter Badač (BFILM.cz), in coproduction with
Martin Smatana (born in Slovakia in 1991) earned his master’s degree in animation from FAMU. During his bachelor’s studies, he did an internship at Nukufilm studio in Tallinn, Estonia. For five years he conducted animation workshops for children. His debut film, Rosso Papavero, premiered at Berlinale 2015 Generation Kplus and won 13 international awards. The Kite, his stop-motion film for children, was completed in November 2018, and has already been honored with first prize from the Animarkt Pitching Forum 2017 in Łódź, Poland.
Slovak BFILM, FAMU, and the Polish studio CeTA. World sales are represented by Georg Gruber (Magnetfilm). The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund with €28,856, with additional funding from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Nadační fond Filmtalent Zlín, and the Nadácia Tatra Banky.
INTERVIEW Katarína Štrbová Bieliková
Katarína Štrbová Bieliková:
I Find Reality More Attractive Than Stylization Costume designer Katarína Štrbová Bieliková (b. 1965), winner of a Czech Lion and three Slovak Sun in a Net awards, has worked on a number of acclaimed films spanning the 20th century: The Glass Room, Talks with TGM, Toman, Garden Store, A Prominent Patient. Currently working on Agnieszka Holland’s Charlatan, she says she would like to work on projects delving even further back in time, but notes that costume work on movies set in the present is often overlooked. by Vojtěch Rynda
Does it ever happen with retro films that viewers complain that isn’t the way people really dressed at the time? I think people often succumb to clichés—for example, that everything was gray under communism, or everything was dark in the Gothic era. The question is how far you want to go, whether toward stylization or historical
accuracy. The latter tends to be subjective, since we don’t have a lot of objective sources for distant history. With Little Crusader, for instance, I noticed two opposing camps. One very much liked how neat things were artistically, while the other thought it was too much—that’s that cliché that the Gothic period was dirty. In this case, cleanliness was a means of expression.
Katarína Štrbová Bieliková
“First of all, you are characterizing a character— creating the outward image of their inner condition, defining their social standing.” Which do you enjoy more: films that are rooted in a certain period and have to respect the reality of the time, like Identity Card, or ones where there is more room for stylization, like Little Crusader? As a visual artist I enjoy stylization more, but I find reality more attractive. I really enjoyed doing Talks with TGM in an absolutely realistic manner, down to the last detail of the pattern on Karel Čapek’s sweater. I prefer to understand the characters rather than going full-on creative. With authenticity I feel more secure, whereas with stylization I sometimes worry about being able to tell where the appropriate boundaries are. You’ve also worked on projects, like Garden Store and The Glass Room, that play out over decades. That must be challenging for a costume designer. It is. Garden Store was a trilogy of feature-length films taking place between 1939 and 1959. With that kind of film, you have to take two things into account: The historical period changes and, with it, the fashion—but so do the people, who get older. How much do they appro-
priate of what is going in and out of style? I think people create a format for their own style of dress until their thirties or forties, and then they tend to stick to it. In The Glass Room you’re telling the story of two women between the 1930s and ’60s against the backdrop of the Villa Tugendhat. What was your mission there? Again, to watch how time goes by and the characters get older. The two women are split by the war—one lives in Czechoslovakia, the other in the U.S.—so when they meet again of course they look different. It was an extraordinary project. I had 80% of the costumes tailored from scratch. The villa itself was fascinating, too. When we were filming the year 1942 and there was a period automobile parked out in front, with the extras in historical outfits, I thought, How are we filming a period film in front of that modern building? I realized that if I had been true to history with the costumes, the characters would have seemed ridiculously archaic next to that timeless architecture. I had to stylize it more. How hard is it to get authentic materials for costumes in historical films? It gets harder every day, especially since the textile industry has basically disappeared here. Sometimes you can find remnants, but that’s more or less up to chance. You can still find things from not so long ago that people have stored away in a closet—say, from the ’60s to the ’80s—but clothing from the war [World War II] is a rarity. Today’s materials are totally different: made differently with a different weight, so they move differently. You’ve covered every period from the 1930s up to the present in your work. Is there any period you like more than the others? I’d really like to go back even further—to before World War I, or to the 19th century. That way there’s no risk of being called out by people who actually lived through it, but then again, people idealize and romanticize the days of the National Revival or the Industrial Revolution. That’s a risk for
Katarína Štrbová Bieliková collecting a Czech Lion for A Prominent Patient
INTERVIEW Katarína Štrbová Bieliková
the screenwriter, too, and for the film as a whole, really. But then you also have more of an opportunity to show people the period from another perspective and show these “deified” characters as actual human beings. You have a lot of awards at home, including a Czech Lion and three Sun in a Net awards. How exactly does one judge the quality of a film costume? By its credibility? Its creativity? Its ability to capture the character? I very much appreciate all the awards I’ve won, but they aren’t necessarily for the things I appreciate most about my work. For example, costumes for history or fantasy films win more awards than those set in the present day. That attests to a pretty oversimplified view of things. Contemporary films where the clothing completes the character, or the colors emphasize their emotions, go unnoticed. Often, neither moviegoers nor critics are aware of it. Contemporary costumes are extremely underestimated. I’ve worked on films set in the present for years and years, but I’ve only started getting more awards now because of period pieces. Do you feel like your profession as a whole is underappreciated? Yes, it doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves—not only from audiences, but even among filmmakers themselves. It comes from a lack of expertise. A lot of times, even directors aren’t aware of what a costume has to offer and how it can help tell their story. I try to enlighten them when I can, and explain the possibilities, especially to young filmmakers. What can you inject into the seemingly routine task of dressing a film set in the present? First of all, you are characterizing a character—creating the outward image of their inner condition, defining their social standing. You are stating visually what this person is like, evoking feelings about them in the viewer. You can work with the set designer, the makeup artists, and the other departments to create a colorful ambience, to illustrate a story line where the character’s social status goes
Recently you’ve worked on a number of stories from the past. Apart from the ones we already mentioned, there’s Toman, A Prominent Patient, Wilson City, and the TV series Rédl. Right now there are an unprecedented number of historical films being made in the Czech and Slovak milieu. Why do you think that is? I think it’s a need to come to terms with the past. Once again, we’re starting to fear for our democracy, and in projects like Toman or Rédl there are clear parallels to what’s going on in our country right now. I sense a feeling of distress in society. Which is also why I’ve taken on Peter Bebjak’s film The Report, which is about Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler’s testimony about the extermination camp in AusToman
© A-Company CZ
up or down, their position gets better or worse. At the same time, you’re also creating a certain point in space-time. Right now, director Agnieszka Holland and I are working on Charlatan, which begins during the First World War and ends in 1958. We agreed that the period relies on the costumes: houses might remain standing a hundred years, so the exteriors don’t change nearly as much as people’s appearances do.
chwitz. It’s very difficult to deal with the Holocaust mentally, but the film feels very important to me at this time when there’s an openly fascist party in the Slovak parliament. How large is your core team? The core group consists of two or three people and grows from there, depending on the number of characters we have to dress. In the camp scenes for The Report, there will be some four hundred extras, so we’ll probably have about thirty costume artists. Czech and Slovak film tradespeople are said to be top-notch. Is that also true of fitters, cutters, and breakdown artists? There are some very good ones, but unfortunately not enough to keep the profession going. There are fewer and fewer people making high-quality historical costumes, because when they get older they leave the business, and there’s no systematic training like there used to be, when theater workshops trained people. But I have met a few young tradespeople who are involved and enthusiastic. So hopefully the tailoring trade won’t die out completely.
IN PRODUCTION MEDIEVAL
Czechs Are Not
Says Maker of New Historical Epic Medieval is the most expensive Czech film ever made, with a budget close to €20 million. Screenwriter, director, and producer Petr Jákl drew inspiration for his work—honoring 15th-century national hero Jan Žižka while extolling the beauty of the Bohemian countryside—from historical epics like Braveheart and The Last Samurai. by Vojtěch Rynda
IN PRODUCTION MEDIEVAL the same time seeking to entice foreign moviegoers with his dramatic life story.
Ben Foster, Machael Caine and Vinzenz Kiefer
© Stanislav Honzík
After eight years of preproduction, shooting on Medieval began on September 17 and ended on December 8 in a swimming pool in Nymburk, where the crew filmed the main characters engaged in underwater combat. “Fifty-six days of shooting is endless,” said Jákl of the preceding months. “We had three hundred people on the set the very first day, and even after that a lot of action and crowd scenes were
Petr Jákl, Ben Foster
© Stanislav Honzík
shot.” Jákl was familiar with this kind of work from his experience as actor and stuntman on foreign productions like xXx, Alien vs. Predator, Bad Company, and the historical series The Borgias. “But I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like as a director and producer,” he said. “That was something altogether different for me, and of course it made for a lot of complications.”
edieval recounts the story of Jan Žižka (ca. 1360–1424), leader of the military wing of the Hussites, the followers of theologian and church reformer Jan Hus. Žižka’s importance in Czech history is attested to by the prominence of the sculpture atop the hill of Vítkov in Prague, one of the largest equestrian statues in the world. Jákl’s film, titled simply Jan Žižka in the original, banks on Czechs’ familiarity with Žižka while at
Jákl had to cross the bridges as he came to them. “We always had to find a way to shoot the scene, even when a lot of the time it looked impossible. Of course, with a budget of 100 million dollars a director can just have a whole set redone if it doesn’t suit his vision. But we didn’t have that kind of budget, so it was important for us to be able to adapt. If something wasn’t working, then we had to find a different camera angle or rehearse different blocking with the actors.” Even the original budget of €10,461,538 (CZK 272 million), financed by the Czech Film Fund, made Medieval the most expensive film in Czech history, pushing it past the previous record holder, Dark Blue World, by Jan Svěrák. But that sum has long since been exceeded, Jákl said: “The budget is now over 400 million crowns (€15,384,615) and we’ll see where postproduction takes it. I think it will be half a billion in the end. The original estimate of CZK 270 million had to be increased substantially due to factors like the involvement of foreign actors.”
Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe
How to track down stars: from Michael Caine to Ben Foster Jákl said having well-known actors involved is key. “If a project with a budget like this doesn’t feature international stars, the return on investment is very complicated, or, actually, unrealistic. Stars choose their projects carefully, since they get a lot of offers. They don’t want to tarnish their names, or they might be at a point where they just don’t need to take jobs anymore.” The latter describes the situation of two-time Oscar winner Sir Michael Caine, perhaps the best-known cast member of Medieval, in which he plays Lord Boreš. “We reached out to Mr. Caine and it was a huge surprise when he got back to us saying he liked the script very much and would take the role,” Jákl recalled.
© Stanislav Honzík
© Stanislav Honzík
© Stanislav Honzík
The role of General Žižka is played by U.S. actor Ben Foster (Leave No Trace, Inferno, 3:10 to Yuma). “Ben only takes films he really wants to do,” said Jákl. “For people like him, the money is important, but it’s not necessarily the main thing.” Australian actress and singer Sophie Lowe is the leading lady, with Žižka’s brother, Jaroslav, played by Englishman William Moseley, known from The Chronicles of Narnia, also filmed in the Czech Republic. The villain Torak is portrayed by Danish actor Roland Møller, and the important character of Rosenberg is played by well-known German actor Til Schweiger (Atomic Blonde, Inglourious Basterds, King Arthur). Czech actors in Medieval include Karel Roden in the role of King Wenceslaus IV, along with Ondřej Vetchý, Jan Budař, Marek Vašut, and others.
Medieval was shot in and around the castles of Orlík, Křivoklát, Zvíkov, Kokořín and Točník, the “America” quarry near Prague, and the “Valley Mill” in the picturesque region known as Bohemian Switzerland, where a number of classic Czech fairytales have been filmed. Other iconic locations used in the shoot included Prague’s Charles Bridge and some favorite forests and caves. “If the film was going to be made the way I imagined it, the budget simply had to be high,” Jákl said. “That allowed us to capture the beauty of the Czech Republic. Audiences will be delighted to see the splendor of our landscape,” he added, praising the work of Danish cinematographer Jesper Tøffner. Jákl said the epic is also grounded in his own sense of national identity and pride: “One of the fundamental reasons why I made a film about Žižka is that I really am proud to be Czech. I think Czechs have the positive trait of being able to
reach agreement, but, at the same time, fighting when necessary. We aren’t hotheads, we know how to compromise. And having travelled the world over, I find this kind of personality suits me best. We Czechs should be prouder of who we are.” The filmmaker also cited his admiration for patriotic historical sagas like Braveheart and The Last Samurai as part of his impetus for making Medieval. “I love these movies, and being able to make something like that, albeit on a tighter budget, is a dream come true for me,” he said. The primary historical consultant on Medieval was Dr. Jaroslav Čechura, who along with other experts advised the filmmakers on set design, costumes, and weapons. “We tried, of course, to stick to the period reality as much as possible. But sometimes it had to be altered a bit for the purposes of the film,” Jákl said of the search for balance between historical credibility and stylization. “Artistic invention is a necessity in epic films like this. I think other films
© Stanislav Honzík
© Stanislav Honzík
© Stanislav Honzík
in this genre have a similar take on authenticity, so we were no exception. We weren’t making a documentary, so we only stuck to the historical basis to the extent that it didn’t interfere with the spectacle.”
Medieval was created with support from the Czech Film Fund, the Prague Film Fund, the Creative Europe MEDIA program, Crestyl, and other institutions. The vast majority of funding, however, came from private investments by Jákl and his foreign partners, namely British coproducer Cassian Elwes whose filmography includes the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club, the bio-pic The Butler, and the historical drama Mudbound. According to Jákl, the budget was increased from 272 million CZK just one month before shooting. This was possible thanks in part to the sale of the emerging project abroad. “There was a lot of interest in Medieval in the film industry market,” he said. “We were able to sell it in a lot of territories based on the cinematography alone, which is wonderful.” Jákl already had sizeable ambitions with his second project as director and producer, Ghoul (2015), an English-language horror film featuring foreign actors, inspired by the 1930s Ukrainian famine and the story of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. His debut was the ambitious thriller Kajínek (2010), which revisited the life of one of the most notorious Czech criminals ever, convicted of a double murder-for-hire and attempted murder, and sentenced to life in prison. Jákl wrote the screenplay for Medieval based on an earlier script by Marek Dobeš and Michal Petruš and a story idea by his father, Petr Jákl Sr., who also served as an executive producer, along with Martin J. Barab and Kevin Bernhardt. Once the demanding postproduction work is complete, Medieval is slated for theatrical release in 2020.
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018
Czech Pop Comedies Festivals Boast Origin Eighty Czech films vied for domestic eyeballs last year, drawing 3.4 million moviegoers to theaters. As in past years, the biggest box-office draws were comedies aimed at Czech audiences, while the films that represented the country at festivals abroad were not big commercial hits. Which films made it at home, which found success abroad, and what exciting projects are underway right now? by Hedvika Petrželková, Markéta Šantrochová
he top five rungs on the 2018 box-office chart, far above the competition, were pop and satirical comedies and children’s movies. The most successful Czech film of 2018 was the comedy What Men Long For, directed by Rudolf Havlík. More than half a million people went to see this movie, about a cynical chauvinist who one day wakes up in a woman’s body.
In second place, with 348,000 tickets sold, was the comedy Patrimony, by Jiří Vejdělek, the seasoned director of such popular films as Men in Hope and Women in Temptation.
Third and fourth spots went to “fairytale movies,” a phenomenon typical for the Czech Republic, with its long tradition of feature-length fiction films made for parents and children. Devilry, by controversial director Zdeněk Troška, who is known for the pulp series Babovřesky, drew 340,000 viewers. The fourth most popular Czech film of 2018 was The Magic Quill, marking another big success for versatile director Marek Najbrt. Using nearly the same team of screenwriters, Najbrt also had a boxoffice hit with the political satire President Blaník, a feature-length version of the series The Blaník Office, which streams on Seznam TV.
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018
Lead Box Office; ality, Authenticity Winter Flies
And which Czech films were best received in foreign markets and festivals? One of last year’s most successful films was a surrealist freak show, combining animation with feature film, from a master of the genre: Insect, by Jan Švankmajer. After premiering at the IFF Rotterdam, the film, which the director says will be his last, appeared at a number of other foreign festivals to a largely positive response. Another feature film that made a good impression at international festivals was the drama Winter Flies, the story of two boys coming of age, directed by Czech young talent Olmo Omerzu. The film, which the Czech Republic put forward as its Oscar submission, won the award for Best Director at the Karlovy Vary IFF and screened at the Toronto festival, the BFI London, the Cinekid festival of children’s films, and others. Another talented young director who has seen significant success is Adam Sedlák, whose feature debut, Domestique, a psychological thriller about a top cyclist, was selected for the main competition at the Karlovy Vary IFF. And Ondřej Novák and Jiří Havlíček saw their short directing debut, Reconstruction, introduced in the competitive section of the prestigious Locarno Festival, Pardi di domani. Produced by Dagmar Sedláčková (MasterFilm), Reconstruction is the compelling story of a boy who has committed a terrible crime.
What Men Long For
International Achievements: Flies and Other Insects
Coproductions and Documentaries: An Easier Way to Reach the World Coproductions, too, continued to thrive last year. The Romanian drama Touch Me Not, which involved Czech producers PINK, took the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, where the Slovak-Czech film The Interpreter, by director Martin Šulík, also screened. Jiří Menzel, the legendary director of the Czechoslovak New Wave, who won the Berlinale Kamera Award in Berlin, played one of the main roles. Another film to get a good reception at the Berlinale was the Czech documentary When the War Comes, from director Jan Gebert. As with Touch Me Not, the film was produced by PINK, in cooperation with HBO Europe and the Croatian company Hulahop.
Two Czech documentaries were selected to be screened at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as part of a new program called the Changing Face of Europe, initiated by European Film Promotion: The Russian Job, by Petr Horký, and The White World According to Daliborek, Vít Klusák’s stylized portrait of a Czech neo-Nazi. The international competition of Visions du Réel hosted the world premiere of the Latvian-Czech coproduction documentary D Is for Division, directed by Dāvis Sīmanis, produced by Ego Media and Produkce Radim Procházka.
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018
International Funding: Eurimages Seven feature films, one animation, and one documentary film with Czech participation received grants from the Eurimages Fund.
© Analog Vision
Features: The Disciple, by Ivan Ostrochovský (Slovakia/Romania/Czech Republic/Ireland, €190,000); Pardon, by Jan Jakub Kolski (Poland/Czech Republic/ Slovakia, €270,000); National Street, by Štěpán Altrichter (Czech Republic/ Germany, €94,845); Old-Timers, directed by Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provaznik (Czech Republic/Slovakia, €190,000); The Deer, directed by Bogdan George Apetri (Romania/Czech Republic, €130 000); In the Dusk, by Šarūnas Bartas (Lithuania/France/Czech Republic/Serbia/Portugal/Latvia €250 000); Power, directed by Mátyás Prikler (Slovakia/Hungary/Czech Republic €150 000) Animation: Even Mice Belong in Heaven, by Jan Bubeniček and Denisa Grimmová (Czech Republic/France/Poland/Slovakia, €370,000). Documentaries: Fever, by Helen Simon (Germany/Czech Republic, €160,000).
Minority coproduction Putin’s Witnesses by Vitaly Mansky, shot as a coproduction between Latvia, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic (Hypermarket Film), premiered at the Karlovy Vary IFF, winning the main prize in the Documentary Films Competition before going on to screenings at the Toronto IFF, IDFA, and other festivals.
Thanks to coproduction efforts, a Czech film also appeared in Cannes last year: Fugue, a drama by Polish director Agnieszka Smoczyńska, coproduced by Czech producer Karla Stojáková – Axman Production, was selected for Cannes Critics’ Week, while Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” won a crystal globe at the Karlovy Vary IFF and was screened at many other international festivals.
Karlovy Vary IFF also premiered, as part of its Documentary Film Competition, Breaking News, by Tomáš Bojar, and Inside the War on ISIS (former title: Inside Mosul), the debut by courageous director Jana Andert. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) invited documentary director Helena Třeštíková to be the guest of honor at the festival where seven of her most famous and important works were screened. In addition, Třeštíková presented her Top 10, the ten works that most influenced her as a filmmaker, introducing them to the IDFA audience.
Czech Participation in Coproduction Markets
© Krzysztof Wiktor
Numerous Czech projects were presented in coproduction markets to favorable response. Two Czech projects have been selected for the coproduction forum When East Meets West, in Trieste: Caravan, by Zuzana Špidlová (produced by nutprodukce – Pavla Janoušková Kubečková), and Plague, by Jan Těšitel (produced by Sirena Film – Petra Oplatková, Artemio Benki).
The documentary project Kiruna 2.0 (directed by Greta Stocklassa, produced by Analog Vision – Veronika Kührová) was presented in January at North Pitch—Below Zero, organized by the European Documentary Network, in collaboration with the Tromso IFF in Norway.
The Ugly Mandarine
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018 The Ugly Mandarine (directed by Piaoyu Xie, produced by Analog Vision – Veronika Kührová, Michal Kráčmer) presented in Cottbus, as did director Michal Blaško’s project Victim. At the works in progress at Agora market in Thessaloniki, the project Cook, F**k, Kill by director Mira Fornay was presented, as was Oroslan by Matjaž Ivanišin. Czech film project The Pack was selected for the Asian Project Market at the Busan International Film Festival. Director Tomáš Polenský’s debut, produced by Julietta Sichel (8Heads Production) in coproduction with Ego Media from Latvia, was the first Czech project to be picked for this coproduction platform. The Nightsiren by Tereza Nvotová, produced by Miloš Lochman (and Peter Badač), won the Eurimages award at the MIA coproduction forum in Rome. The narrative film Martin and the Forest Secret, by director Petr Oukropec and producer Peter Badač (BFILM.cz), was recognized at the Riga IFF Forum and got the postproduction award. Shadows Country
Three Czech projects were presented to festival curators, film producers, sales agents, and distributors at the international industry event Meeting Point – Vilnius: By a Sharp Knife (Slovakia/Czech Republic), a political drama directed by Teodor Kuhn and produced by Jakub Viktorín; Domestique, the promising debut by director Adam Sedlák, working with producer Jakub Jíra; and Japan, by director and producer Pavel Ruzyak. A Czech-Slovak co-production, short film The End (dir. David Štumpf, Michaela Mihalyiová) was presented to film professionals and potential partners alongside 36 other projects at the world-class pitching section Mifa Pitches. The film is being produced by BFILM.cz together with Slovak BFILM and Prague based FAMU. Also presented at the Venice Gap Financing Market were The Prague Orgy, by director Irena Pavlásková, based on the novel by Phillip Roth, and the documentary Solo, by Artemio Benki. Three Czech children´s projects were selected for the Warsaw Kids Film Forum: Martin and the Forest Secret (director Petr Oukropec, produced by Peter Badač, BFILM), and the animated TV series The Little Odyssey (director Jakub Kouřil, produced by k-pictures); and, finally among projects in development, while Rosa & Dara and Their Great Summer Adventure (director Martin Duda, produced by Bionaut) for the Works in Progress section.
© LUMINAR Film
Another Czech documentary project was presented in the 2018 edition of the Hot Docs Forum: Wishing on a Star, directed by Peter Kerekes, produced by Videomante (Italy), Mischief Films (Austria), Artcam Films (Czech Republic), and Peter Kerekes (Slovak Republic).
In the Works: Narrative Projects Last year saw a number of promising projects in the development and production stages that received support from the Czech Film Fund. These were the three that received the most funding: Havel, a biographical work about a major figure in modern Czech history, to be filmed by director Slávek Horák (a TVORBA films production), received support of €557,692. Another biographical film, Zatopek, about the celebrated Czech runner, is being prepared by David Ondříček, with Lucky Man Films, and was awarded funding of €576,923. The historical project Shadows Country sees veteran director Bohdan Sláma and producer Martin Růžička (Luminar Film) return to events on the Czech border after the end of World War II, and was funded in the amount of €423,077.
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018
Promising projects are also underway in the areas of animated and documentary film. The former includes two highly anticipated projects that have been years in the making: the feature film My Sunny Maad by wellknown Czech animator Michaela Pavlátová, and Even Mice Belong in Heaven by directors Denisa Grimmová and Jan Bubeníček. Projects in the developmental stage that were supported by the Czech Film Fund last year include Rosentaal (a Maur Film production, supported with €46,154) and Golem (Hausbot Production, supported with €34,615). The projects in production that received the highest funding were Tony, Shelly & Genius (producer Pavla Janoušková Kubečková – nutprodukce), which also received the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the Cinekid Junior Co-production Market 2018, and Heart of a Tower (producer Peter Badač – BFILM), both of which were granted €576,923.
© Artcam Films
In the Works: Animated and Documentary Projects
Tomáš Kratochvíl and produced by Radim Procházka, follows a successful Roma family who left the Czech Republic for Britain 12 years ago, was supported with €46,154. Another four projects in development each received €15,385: Happily for Ever, directed by Jana Počtová, looks at contemporary relationships; Woods, directed by Lukáš Kokeš and Klára Tasovská, produced by Pavla Janoušková Kubečková, follows children involved in a forest adventure game; Adam Ondra: Pushing the Limits, directed by Jan Šimánek and Petr Záruba, is the portrait of a rock climber; and Storyteller of the Jungle: Otto Placht, by director Alice Růžičková, features a painter inspired by the Shipibo Amazonian Indian tribe.
Documentary filmmaking is a genre that has been on the rise in the Czech Republic for decades and is now giving narrative filmmaking a run for its money in terms of acclaim and success abroad. And more promising projects are underway. Among those that received the highest levels of funding from the CFF for production were Every Single Minute, by director Erika Hníková (produced by Jiří Konečný – endorfilm), a portrait of a family raising their little boy through a parenting philosophy called Kameveda. The project received financing of €76,923. Another project dealing with children and parenting is Vít Klusák’s Caught in the Net, which uses an original experiment to cover the taboo topic of online child abuse (funding: €57,692). Pongo Story, directed by
© Jakub Čech
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
© Fresh Films
INDUSTRY CZECH FILM 2018
Noteworthy Czech films of all types have premieres approaching. Upcoming fiction films include the longawaited The Painted Bird from director and producer Václav Marhoul, based on Jerzy Kosinski’s controversial book of the same name about a Jewish boy enduring the horrors of war. Director Mira Fornay then offers an intimate family drama with the film Cook, F**k, Kill. Agnieszka Holland launched shooting of her new project Charlatan, made in Czech-Irish-Slovak coproduction. Petr Zelenka is working on his new film The Pilot, while Zdeněk Jiráský preps shooting of Kryštof.
Solo, one of the projects vying for festival and domestic audiences in the field of documentary film, is the portrait of a talented Argentine pianist recovering from addiction in a psychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires, and marks the feature debut of Czech-based French director Artemio Benki. Living legend of Czech documentary filmmaking Helena Třeštíková is preparing a portrait of Miloš Forman (see “Creative Europe: TV Programming” in this issue). Director Eva Tomanová has made Another Chance, the story of a lopsided love affair between a successful, middle-aged woman and a young marriage impostor. And director Viera Čakányová describes her upcoming documentary essay, FREM, as a requiem for Homo sapiens as a species on the decline.
Czech Film Awards – Czech Lions and Czech Film Critics’ Awards The 8th edition of the Czech Film Critics’ Awards 2017 conferred prizes to:
Filthy, directed by Tereza Nvotová: Best Film, Innogy Discovery Award Little Crusader, directed by Václav Kadrnka: Best Director Ice Mother, directed by Bohdan Sláma: Best Script, Best Actress (Zuzana Kronerová) Richard Müller: This Is Not Me, directed by Miro Remo: Best Documentary Film Masaryk, directed by Julius Ševčík: Best Actor (Karel Roden) 8 Heads of Madness, by Marta Nováková: Audiovisual Achievement At the 25th Czech Lion Awards, Ice Mother, directed by Bohdan Sláma and produced by Petr Oukropec and Pavel Strnad (Negativ), took home honors in six categories: Best Film (Oukropec and Strnad/Negativ), Best Director (Sláma), Best Screenplay (Sláma), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Zuzana Kronerová), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Pavel Nový), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Petra Špalková).
Barefoot, by Jan Svěrák, won four awards, including Best Cinematography (Vladimír Smutný) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Oldřich Kaiser). Filthy, by Tereza Nvotová, was honored for Best Editing, and Milada by David Mrnka won Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The Lion for Best Documentary Feature went to Cervena, directed by Olga Sommerová, produced by Pavel Berčík (Evolution Films). The Magnesia Award for Best Student Film went to Michal Blaško for Atlantis, 2003.
© CINEART TV PRAGUE
Projects Nearing Completion
Cook, F**k, Kill
In the category of animated film, several interesting project are coming: Fritzi: A Miraculous Revolutionary Tale, by Ralf Kukula and Matthias Bruhn, based on the book of the same name by Hanna Schott; The Missing Star, by French director Loïc Malo, an opulent essay based on the last moments of Stalin as Stalin, both coproduced by MAUR film, or short The Kite (see page 8).
IN PRODUCTION NATIONAL STREET
A Bitter Yet Hilarious Portrait of Post-1989 National Street, the latest project from director Štěpán Altrichter (Schmitke), is based on the novel of the same name by Jaroslav Rudiš. Like J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy, Rudiš’s book maps the mindscape of the underclass. by Martin Kudláč
“Hey, go wash your hands. They’re dirty.” “That’s from shoving them up the asses of guys like you,” comes the testosterone-fueled retort.
Two worlds are about to collide in an ordinary Czech pub: upper-class white collars facing off against the social ladder’s lower rungs. A barmaid steps in to deflate the
IN PRODUCTION NATIONAL STREET
A housing estate on the fringes of the capital, in southeast Prague, serves as the main location for the shooting of National Street. The district was chosen because it is home to many people like Vandam, who feel betrayed by how the country has evolved, politically and economically, since the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989. Both in the novel and the film, Vandam’s character espouses a rather controversial worldview in response to the changes around him. He is also compulsively violent, enough to lead some to say his conservatism might be just a euphemism for right-wing extremism. “Vandam is not a neo-Nazi,” Rudiš insists. In addition to writing the novel National Street, he also cowrote the script and has become a household name in contemporary Czech literature. “He’s way too smart and individualistic to be a neo-Nazi.”
National Street has been translated more times than any other of Rudiš’s books, and its translation into film gives the story even more traction in the current political climate. In terms of its relationship to other current works, the novel can be compared to U.S. author J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy or French author Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy, which also map the mindscape of the underclass, though critics here have dubbed Rudiš’s work a Czech Fight Club.
situation, averting violence, and once the upper-class invaders disappear, the working-class barflies celebrate to the cheerful chant “Vandam is a national hero!” The cocky comeback in this scene is delivered with gusto— actor Hynek Čermák clearly enjoys his latest personification. Due to his menacing physique, he’s usually cast as a bad boy, but between takes he’s the complete opposite of his typical on-screen persona. In his latest role as Vandam—the character gets his nickname from his admiration for the Muscles from Brussels, who wields violence as a pedagogical tool—Čermák subverts the macho stereotype, turning it into pure comic gold. He makes people laugh with him, not at him—the mark of a true artist, and a crucial distinction given the film’s exploration of Czech society 30 years after the Velvet Revolution, viewed through a working-class lens.
© Jan Hromádko
© Jan Hromádko
Rising talent in the director’s chair Rudiš cowrote the script with Štěpán Altrichter, a FAMU and HFF Postdam-Babelsberg alumnus who helms the project as director. Altrichter’s adaptation of National Street follows his graduation film, the German-Czech coproduction titled Schmitke, which was introduced at the Busan Film Festival in 2015 and doubled as his feature debut. It was promising enough to earn him the Czech Film and Television Academy’s Discovery of the Year Award. Schmitke was a peculiar blend of crime mystery,
IN PRODUCTION NATIONAL STREET
absurd comedy, and low-key surrealism, set in the moody atmosphere of the foggy Ore Mountains. Grappling with identity crisis, alienation, and uprootedness, it featured the same set of motifs we see so prominently in National Street, though set against a different backdrop. Altrichter was immersed in preproduction work on his ambitious (“and,” he says, “much more experimental”) project Runner when Pavel Strnad of Negativ approached him about adapting Rudiš’s novel for the screen. Oddly enough, Runner follows a protagonist in Berlin after the election of an extremist political party, but “it is not a dystopian sci-fi,” Altrichter insists.
Schmitke proved to be adequate credentials for the emerging director to be entrusted with the €1.4 million project. The Prague-based outfit Negativ—go-to producers for the grande dame of Czech documentary, Helena Třeštíková, as well as internationally acclaimed director Bohdan Sláma—had already produced a previous adaptation of Rudiš’s work for the screen: Alois Nebel, named Best Animation Feature by the European Film Academy in 2012. Adapted from a series of graphic novels, written by Rudiš and illustrated by artist Jaromír 99, the black-andwhite rotoscopic animated feature was unveiled at the 68th edition of the Venice International Film Festival.
© Jan Hromádko
“The story revolves around a certain type of frustration, plus it’s also about the search for an identity,” says Rudiš of National Street. “Vandam reflects a world transformed. He’s definitely not one of the winners of the Velvet Revolution.” Transitioning the story to the big screen required tremendous skill to preserve the ambivalent nature of its main character, a charismatic narrator who revels in antisocial behavior. This ambivalence permeates the entire film, an irreverent and testosterone-fueled comedy that remains at its core a realistic social drama.
Social drama veiled as irreverent comedy If Schmitke was Altrichter’s take on Lynchian atmospherics, National Street, Strnad says, hews closer to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting in its aesthetics, framing, and storytelling technique. Under the comic coating lies a bleak story, but “if a film is too serious it ceases to be engaging,” Altrichter says. This is why Trainspotting, which also revolved around white working-class outcasts, served as a reference point for the film. The director says the Coen Brothers were also an inspiration, albeit more abstract, in his attempt to leverage Čermák’s charisma and entertaining qualities alongside Rudiš’s witty writing and strong messaging. Romanian cinematographer Cristian Pirjol returned to Alrichter’s film crew again, after shooting his debut. “He loves actors and great stories and can create a technical quality that otherwise is hard to build,” Altrichter says in his praise. Production responsibilities from the German side are being handled by 42film, who previously coproduced the award-winning Family Film by another rising Czech talent, Olmo Omerzu. Financial support for the project came from the Czech Film Fund, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Creative Europe MEDIA, and Eurimages. Strnad says he expects to have the final cut ready by March, with the film completed by May 2019, once they retire to the editing room after wrapping the principal photography at the end of November. National Street will hit local cinemas as soon as September 2019. Talking to the producer, the director, and the author about the story, words and phrases like white trash, xenophobia,
© Jan Hromádko
Adds Altrichter, “Jaroslav perfectly captured the typical present-day hero: an angry, white old man.” Rudiš himself agrees, saying the waters for this story, as well as the way it’s told, have been tested already through several translations of the novel, including into German and French. Though he admits events like the ones in Chemnitz in August 2018—a fight broke out, resulting in the death of a Cuban-German man and serious injuries to two other people, with two Kurdish immigrants (one Iraqi, one Syrian) named as suspects—may contribute to the story’s allure, he strongly disassociates the book and its protagonist from any ideology, saying it isn’t about right-wing extremism. In fact, one of National Street’s defining traits is its refusal to traffic in clichés or stereotypes, and we see this in its ambivalent protagonist, its ambiguous form of dramatic comedy, even in its casting. The pub owner and barmaid Lucka (played by Kateřina Janečková), who cools down Vandam after the white-collar businessman comes to the pub collect a debt, is a strong character, offering an antidote to the machismo of Vandam. But she isn’t a stereotypical love interest either. “We have a great sex scene,” Altrichter says mischievously, hinting that it will be anything but corny.
© Jan Hromádko
racist, poverty, and debt trap came up repeatedly. Yet, they insisted, National Street won’t be a depression-fest. And despite comedy being the driving force of the film, it doesn’t ridicule or mock the social group the narrator comes from. “We’re trying to understand the main character, his reasons and the way he thinks, what propels his behavior,” Strnad underlines.
The filmmakers’ strong respect for the audience, despite the difficult subject matter, suggests it may turn out to be a classic. National Street has much in common with The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodday, a movie Czechs revere, by trailblazing director Věra Chytilová, who perfectly captured the post-1989 mood of transition to democracy and capitalism as a boisterous folk comedy. It seemed an odd decision at the time, but it played a huge part in the film’s cult status. To the degree National Street succeeds as the spiritual successor to Chytilová’s memorable work, encapsulating the socioeconomic shift three decades later, Vandam may turn out to be the country’s next national hero, following in the footsteps of Bohumil Stejskal, the lead of The Inheritance.
Czech Joy presentation at IDFF Jihlava
© Radek Lavička
CZECH FILM FUND
Monika Bartošová and Petr Vítek (Czech Film Fund), and Kateřina Košická (SFKMG) during the Happy hour with Czech Film Fund at IDFF Jihlava
Support From Czech Film Fund for Features Havel, Admin, and Minority Coproductions In October 2018, the Czech Film Fund announced €769,230 in support for minority coproductions, funding 8 of the 25 projects that applied.
he highest evaluation, with a grant of €173,077, went to the Slovak-Czech project The Writer, directed by Martin Šulík and produced by IN Film Praha on the Czech side. The jury said they were impressed by the story, about an aging writer’s inner struggles with emptiness and a lack of inspiration. The second highest amount went to the Polish-Czech-Slovak fairy tale Kaytek the Wizard, with Czech producers love.Frame. This was the project’s third time applying, and this time it received 100% of the requested amount (€134,615). Receiving only slightly less support (€119,231) was another film for younger audiences, the majority Polish project Black Mill, an adventure in which the kids save the grown-ups, coproduced by Czech 8Heads Productions. Latvian director Dāvis Sīmanis’s auteur film The Year
Before the War (with Czech coproducer Radim Procházka) received €110,577; the majority Lithuanian postwar drama In the Dusk (directed by Šarūnas Bartas, coproduced by Sirena Film) was awarded €115,385; and the Latvian documentary Soviet Man (dir. Ivo Briedis), with 20% Czech participation through coproducer Frame Films, was granted €20,192. Power, a Slovak-Hungarian-Czech drama focusing on the dark mechanisms of power in Slovakia, received €76,923 (directed by Mátyás Prikler with Czech producers Negativ). And the last minority coproduction to receive support was Belgian creator Jasmine Elsen’s animated debut, A Carousel (Czech production by BFILM cz), with a grant of €19,231. In December, the Czech Film Fund announced decisions for feature-length
narrative films. A total of 22 projects applied for support, and the council awarded a total of €2,461,538 to eight of them. The highest rating and largest grant (€557,692) went to director Slávek Horák’s bio-pic Havel, which delves into a period in the life of former dramatist, dissident, and president Václav Havel. Another funding recipient was Admin, a project in development by Olmo Omerzu, about the dangers of today’s virtually connected world; the fund allotted €423,076 for this project. The Last Race, a tragic tale from 1913, about Czech skiing pioneers Hanč and Vrbata, will be told by debut director Tomáš Hodan, with support of €269,230. The council also awarded €423,077 to Bohdan Sláma’s new project, Shadows Country, a postwar drama from the Czech-Austrian border. Director Václav Kadrnka will conclude his trilogy about
Gyula Gazdag and Jan Svěrák at the Script Consulting Incubator
father-son relationships with Saving One Who Was Dead (€192,308). Petr Oukropec’s original children’s project, Martin and the Forest Secret, received €288,461 in support. And topping off the eight projects selected for funding were the social drama Victim (dir. Michal Blaško; €269,230) and a story from the world of theater, The Play (dir. Alejandro Fernández Almendras; €38,461).
Script Consulting Incubator Launches Six Projects In October the Script Consulting Incubator, a project for the development of screenplays and script consultants, kicked off activities with a two-day seminar on script editing, led by international instructors and experts. The seminar, held in Prague, was attended by nearly 300, mostly Czech, film professionals and students. After that, the lecturers and selected participants went on to the town of Poděbrady, 30 miles east of the capital, for the program’s conclusion. There, in smaller groups, they discussed the screenplays of Czech feature films developed with assistance from the Czech Film Fund. Each of the projects had its own script consultant on hand: a trainee who was assigned a foreign instructor with whom they could discuss their approach to screenplay development. Among those who shared their experience with the public at the seminar in Prague were Molly Malene Stensgaard, an editor who has worked
© Radek Lavička
© Czech Film Fund
CZECH FILM FUND
Czech Joy presentation at IDFF Jihlava
on many Lars von Trier films; script consultant Franz Rodenkirchen, who discussed techniques for communicating with directors; and Anita Voorham, who spoke about selecting creative collaborators. Christian Routh, who has extensive experience with the greenlighting process in multiple countries, shared individual and industry practices for reviewing story ideas. Former FAMU dean Pavel Jech elaborated on narrative styles of the Czechoslovak New Wave filmmakers and others, while screenwriter Mariette von Hausswolff von Baumgarten shared detailed analyses of outstanding scenes from famous international films. Filmmaker Jan Svěrák provided insights from the other side of script consultation, sharing both positive and more challenging experiences from his collaborations with English and U.S. script editors. “I was very surprised by the turnout,” said Gyula Gazdag, head of studies for the program. “And I’m glad all these speakers agreed to come to Prague to share their knowledge in script development and script consulting. The fact that there were so many young people in the audience gives me hope for the future of the craft.” Consultation doesn’t end with this workshop, either. The instructors will continue to interact with the filmmakers and trainees over the course of this year, until October. Projects and participants will also be selected for the incubator’s next cycle (Phoenix 2), slated to kick off with a workshop in April 2019.
The Script Consulting Incubator is both an educational project for script editors and a support program for screenplay development. It is organized by the Czech Film Fund in cooperation with AMU/MIDPOINT. Six projects in development that received full funding from the Czech Film Fund are involved in this year’s Phoenix:
• the sci-fi action flick Black Sun
(screenwriter Eugen Liška, director Jan Haluza, producer Produkce Radim Procházka)
• the historical horror/thriller
Fichtelberg (director and screenwriter Šimon Koudela, producer Cineart TV Prague)
• the adventure comedy horror Bloody
Bride (director and screenwriter Andy Fehu, producer Snake Catcher)
• the moral drama Victim
(screenwriter Jakub Medvecký, director Michal Blaško, producer nutprodukce)
• Money From Hitler, a chilling World War II tale set in the Sudetenland (screenwriter Lenka Wimmerová, director Tomáš Mašín, producer FILM KOLEKTIV)
• Wirbel, the search for the origin
of paranormal phenomena in the baroque landscape of the Central Bohemian Uplands (screenwriter and director Tomáš Hubáček, producer Mimesis Film).
Planet Bionaut: An Ever-Expanding Ecosystem
Progressive Czech production company Bionaut is rapidly expanding, both in terms of the number and the type of its projects, as it adapts to constant change in the industry. The company’s latest work coming down the pipeline is an ambitious mix of genre, form, format, and subject matter. by Martin Kudláč
content, Bionaut, a Czech company selling household appliances online entered the arena of online distribution, mixing acquisitions with original content. Bionaut is known to Czech viewers mainly for Finicky History, a popular format of a cooking show with an educational bent, for the online shop’s new VoD service. This actually isn’t as surprising as it might seem. Bionaut is one of the most progressive production companies in the Czech audiovisual
he audiovisual industry is increasingly mercurial. Audience tastes, with an appetite for more and increasingly diverse content, have opened up opportunities the same way the digital transformation did, leading to the democratization and wider circulation of content. It is a phenomenon both global and local, and Czech companies are no stranger to these trends, turning to alternative distribution, such as streaming channels and VoD. As technological behemoths rolled out their own streaming services with original
industry, boasting a large and highly diversified portfolio of projects that has swelled considerably over the company’s nearly two decades of existence.
© HBO Europe
Vratislav Šlajer founded the Praguebased company in 1999, during his first year studying production at FAMU. Enchanted by moving pictures since his childhood, Šlajer, a true prodigy, had shot two films by the time he was thirteen. Though he entertained thoughts of becoming a director, he ultimately heeded the call to become a film producer and says he has no regrets.
In an interview with online magazine 25fps, Šlajer said he sees producing as a “decisive, driving and creative profession,” and elsewhere described
Hailing from the younger generation of Czech producers, Šlajer (born in 1977), like his peers, embraces innovative approaches, defying old formulas and traditional models. Under his guidance, Bionaut has developed into a fully integrated production company, covering fiction, documentary, and animated film. Over time, it has established a foothold in the domain of television and, more recently, online series. The company’s structure mirrors its constantly branching activities with a modern management style and the business acumen it needs to not only survive but thrive in an increasingly competitive industry. At the center of the extensive production company is Bionaut Films, primarily focused on arthouse production. In 2005, Petr Bílek, Bionaut’s founder and Šlajer’s producing partner, established the production outfit FilmBrigade, a sister company to Bionaut Films, to work on mainstream film and television projects. Despite the two operations having different artistic visions, they were set up to complement each other, economically and creatively. Šlajer left FilmBrigade in 2013, but continues to straddle the worlds of independent arthouse and commercial mainstream
production with confidence under the Bionaut banner.
A Cornucopia of Genres, Formats, and Stories One of Šlajer’s most notable projects is Walking Too Fast, a drama that toys with genre elements and expectations. The 2010 film, directed by Radim Špaček, netted five Czech Lion awards and five Czech Film Critics’ Awards. Who’s Afraid of the Wolf (dir. Maria Procházková) was introduced at the Berlinale in 2009, and Vendetta (2011, dir. Miroslav Ondruš) won four Czech Lions. After their award-winning collaboration on Walking Too Fast, the creative team of producerdirector Radim Špaček, writer Ondřej Štindl, and cinematographer Jaromír Kačer reunited for a follow-up project, the 1990s coming-of-age drama Places.
This incredible variety has been possible thanks to the fact that in 2014 the company widened its scope by establishing three distinctive labels: one for animated projects (Bionaut Animation), one for documentary filmmaking (Bionaut Docs), and one for international genre filmmaking (Bionaut Dark). Czech-based British producer Danny Holman, who served as VP of production and ran development production at Stillking Films, is in charge of the genre sidebar. He says his
Rosa & Dara
it as offering more “variability” than directing. Clearly, variability has defined Bionaut’s portfolio under his leadership as head producer and managing director. Currently, Šlajer is serving a second term as chair of the Czech Republic’s Audiovisual Producers’ Association, which protects the interests of domestic producers, and he is also an active member of the European Film Association and the Czech Film and Television Academy.
Šlajer, an aficionado of prestige television, has also joined forces with HBO, the pioneer of quality cable TV, to translate the Norwegian noir series Mammon for a Czech audience. Czech Television, the country’s public broadcaster, also contracted Bionaut to tackle the retro-mystery Shadow of the Ferns, a miniseries based on BBC’s Life on Mars, with company regular Radim Špaček as director. Meanwhile the crime series The Dame & The King just wrapped its second season on one of the Czech private channels, drawing a record-breaking number of viewers for the finale, and Šlajer and his team just launched Doctor Martin in local cinemas, a feature-length version of the British TV series, to follow up on the success of the domestic version on Czech Television. Bionaut is already bracing for a Doctor Martin spin-off series, Sergeant Topinka.
The Dame & The King
mission at Bionaut is to work on projects for an international audience that will also entice Czech moviegoers, which in turn will create a market and allow domestic films to reach a wider audience. Apart from its label dedicated to animation, Bionaut also has its own animation and VFX studio, Kredenc. Bionaut’s service and line producing arm, Bionaut Works, has been offering creative and financial collaboration for international coproductions. Attention Lab, which carries out crowdfunding, social media and power marketing activities, supplements the company’s larger inventory of activities. Bionaut’s structure matches its diverse and broad output, which extends not only horizontally, in terms of formal variety, but vertically as well. Šlajer and the company approach each project with the same verve, whether it be an arthouse drama, high-grossing commercial fare, a pop-culture TV series, or an awardwinning documentary.
has no prior experience with that particular genre or topic. As he said in an interview with online magazine iHned, he is willing to learn along the way, a passion-driven approach that has led him to publish comics as well as the online platform Planet Dark. As Šlajer said in an interview in online magazine iHned, the foundation of well-executed production is intuition. Nor are there any signs of Bionaut’s breakneck pace slowing. It has several ambitious and varied projects in the pipeline. In the Bionaut Dark department, Sara, an international psychological thriller with Czech majority funding, is now in the works, based on a Mark Christopher script, with Warsaw 44 and Suicide Room director Jan Komasa helming the project. Sunburn, planned as Czech-UKSerbian-Slovak coproduction, is a riff on
Besides genre fare, a screen adaptation of the partially autobiographical novel My Cold War—by Slovak author René Benda, who will also direct in his first feature outing—will extend Bionaut’s production slate. Also in the works are an educational animated children’s series, Rosa & Dara and Their Great Adventure, and an animated series for 4-to-6-yearolds, Hungry Bear Tales. Finally, the company is also developing Different, a dark, adult-oriented miniseries based on Central European myths. Planet Bionaut, as Šlajer refers to the ever-expanding Bionaut ecosystem, crossed the borders of its home country in 2017, setting up sister companies— Raketa, Kosmonaut, and Aeronaut— in Slovakia, Poland, and Serbia to further consolidate its international coproductions. In Slovakia, Bionaut is partnering with established professionals Zuzana Mistríková and Ľubica Orechovská from PubRes, who coproduced Švankmajer’s Insect, while the Polish bureau will be headed by Jan Komasa. This larger network of collaborators will enable the company to access a substantial pool of talent, funds, and project opportunities. In short, there’s little doubt Planet Bionaut will continue to explode, expanding its reach ever farther into the universe.
Hungry Bear Tales
Variability and Diversity as Driving Principles Variability is truly the defining characteristic of the company’s output and its head producer’s omnivorous appetite. Šlajer’s interests are not limited by genres or formal boundaries. What matters is the project. If he finds it interesting he will pursue it, even if he
© Czech TV
the Euro psychosexual thriller tradition, and should be ready by summer 2020. Yet another highly ambitious project, Eternal Tomorrow, will be an animated futuristic sci-fi horror. Bionaut plans to accompany Eternal Tomorrow with comics, as well as venturing into the uncharted territory of video games.
© Hradec Králove Region archive
REGIONAL Film Offices
East Bohemia Film Office: From Renaissance to Folk Architecture
he East Bohemia Film Office, promoting all this and more, has facilitated filming and assisted filmmakers in the area since 2013. “Being based at the East Bohemia Tourism Board, we benefit from close links with tourism. We work with hundreds of information centers in the region, which gives us the most up-to-date information, whether on locations or accommodation
© East Bohemia Film Office
East Bohemia is picturesque and rich in architecture from every imaginable period, as well as offering dramatic natural scenery. The region is crossed by one of Europe’s largest rivers, the Elbe, and its northern border with Poland is formed by the Krkonoše (Giant) Mountains, where you can find the highest peak in the Czech Republic, Sněžka (1,603 m). The region’s largest cities, Hradec Králové and Pardubice, are known for their modern and contemporary buildings.
options,” says Lucie Ondráčková of the East Bohemia Film Office. The film office combines two of the Czech Republic’s 14 political districts into a single “film region,” accessible from Prague by car or train—it takes just 60 to 90 minutes to reach the regional capitals of Pardubice and Hradec Králové.
“In addition, we have a small but functional and very film-friendly airport in Pardubice, as well as one in Hradec Králové with a huge external area that can also be used for filming. Popular locations in the region include Josefov Fortress, the historic center of Pardubice, the Adršpach sand rock formations, folk architecture in Veselý Kopec, the Krkonoše (Giant) Mountains, and
REGIONAL Film Offices
“Each year we also host several shoots for domestic films and television. Czech producers love to film fairytales with us, as well as contemporary stories and historical material. One recent example is the feature Jan Palach, which was set in the late 1960s and took over the main square in Pardubice last summer as a stand-in for Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Logistically, it was quite a trick,” Ondráčková recalls. “We had to get a tank onto the square, but vehicles over a certain weight aren’t permitted, so they had to strip the tank’s interiors to cut down its weight, until finally they were allowed to drive it onto the square.”
Locations, Locations, Locations
As an additional incentive, the Pardubice and Hradec Králové regional governments offer financial aid for the production of films in the region.
© Karel Cudlín
“We don’t have any film funds yet, but we do take individual applications,” Ondráčková says. “For example, this year the Czech film LOVEní received CZK
750,000. The entire film takes place in and around Pardubice and was shot here in fall 2018. In January 2019, filming is scheduled to begin on the Czech period piece The Last Race, based on a dramatic ski race that took place in the Krkonoše Mountains in 1913. The Hradec Králové Region will support the shoot with CZK 280,000, and of course our film office will assist during prep and shooting.” Themes like these, with their ties to regional sites, are the types of projects the film office likes to use to promote the region as a tourist and business destination. These types of tie-ins are common the world over, and attract many travelers to visit film locations. So, what types of locations in East Bohemia are moviegoers likely to see on screens in the near future? “Recently, filmmakers have been looking for villa exteriors and interiors—period as well as modern and contemporary. Particularly popular now for some reason are wood interiors, so we’ve been happy to provide tips for several such locations in the area,” Ondráčková says with a smile.
© Matěj Trasak
These locations draw domestic and foreign productions alike, including the Amazon Studios series Carnival Row, the German ZDF project Walpurgisnacht, and the Indian romantic comedy Shine. Jackie Chan, director of The Diary, filmed in the region last summer, as did the French romantic film Coup de foudre à Noel and the new BBC period series World on Fire.
numerous castles spread all around the East Bohemian region,” says Ondráčková.
“Location scouts are also interested in industrial locations and brownfields, as well as lesser-known yet still interesting castles and chateaux. We’d also love to sell them on more of the very specific architecture of Pardubice and Hradec Králové, and our amazing pearl: the town of Litomyšl.” In the early 20th century, Hradec Králové was known as the country’s architectural showcase, thanks to the timeless architecture of Josef Gočár and Jan Kotěra. A century later, this designation has been taken over by Litomyšl. Although featuring a number of Renaissance highlights, the town in recent years has become home to several top-notch examples of contemporary architecture, and is often presented as a model of coherent urban planning for its balance between historic and new architecture. Pardubice, too, boasts a number of modern buildings from both the early 20th century and the present. The most outstanding, with a very definite genius loci, is Gočár’s art deco Winternitz Automatic Mills. “Every time we visit a region as part of our location tours, I’m amazed at how many diverse and wonderful locations we have in our small country,” says the Czech Republic’s film commissioner, Pavlína Žipková. “In almost every corner there’s a local film office that serves as a great source of information for filmmakers and helps to facilitate filming in the area. The Czech Film Commission has helped establish 10 regional film offices to date. I’m extremely proud of our efforts and just want to say: Come film with us! You’ll find a warm welcome, and this is definitely the place to be. We speak filmmaking here!”
Milo‰ Forman Documentary:
A Promising Project Supported in Creative Europe MEDIA The Creative Europe MEDIA programme includes numerous sub-programs, among them TV Programming, which aims to support TV productions, including documentaries. Very few Czech projects have made use of the program so far, but one notable exception is an upcoming portrait of Miloš Forman, which seasoned director Helena Třeštíková is making for Czech Television and ARTE. by Hedvika Petrželková, Daniela Staníková
everal factors came together to help to get funding on the Forman versus Forman explains Daniela Staníková, the head of the Czech Republic’s Creative Europe Desk. “Bringing together two powerful, internationally known names: Třeštíková and Forman; a strong distributor; a well-established coproduction; and
real involvement of the coproducers into the project, not just on a symbolic, financial basis. The reputation of the producer has also played its part - Negativ has been working with Třeštíková for a long time. The main coproducers are the French television station ARTE, the French company Alegria Productions , and, on the Czech side, Czech Television.”
Producer Kateřina Černá of Negativ says, “When a major TV station like ARTE decides to be one of the main coproducers of a documentary about Forman, it shows that there is still interest in him and his work in the European context.” She says the documentary will cover Forman’s life in its entirety. “We believe the archival
Creative Europe MEDIA material will allow us to capture every stage of his life—his successes and failures.”
Třeštíková: Forman’s Audition was a miracle for me Třeštíková describes Forman as a major figure in her life. “I was an avid film buff, even as a child. I went to every children’s movie and saw all the socialist youth films. Then, when I was about 13, a miracle happened,” Třeštíková recalls. “I saw Audition, and the world changed. Suddenly, I saw life as I knew it on-screen. The idea that films were about another, better world than the one we have just vanished. Films don’t have to construct illusions—they can show real life! It was a major realization. I became obsessed with the films of the Czechoslovak New Wave and secretly dreamed that one day I would be able to make movies too. The New Wave gave me a taste of freedom and became part of the feelings and emotions that made up my life from that point on— my aspirations—they defined my identity. I owe my becoming a director to Miloš Forman,” Třeštíková says. Plans for the Forman documentary began while he was still alive. Forman
approved the project but declined to be in it, since by then he was already very tired and didn’t want to appear on camera. Instead, then, the film will be narrated by one of Forman’s sons, Petr. “The film will summarize the path of Forman’s life: his quest, his groping for answers, his disappointments, discoveries, realizations. We have plenty of material for this, both from Forman’s own archives and from films made about him or ’making of’ movies for his films. There’s also news footage capturing important events that influenced his life, as well as the Forman family’s own archive. So most of the work on the film will be done in the editing room,” says Třeštíková. “There hasn’t been a lot filmed about Forman so far, and we believe Czech cinematography lacks a comprehensive biographical portrait,” says Černá of Negativ. “Thanks to our foreign coproducers and script editing provided by ARTE, though, as well as having a figure like Helena Třeštíková on board, we believe there will be interest from foreign festivals as well as foreign television companies, and that will help us with promotion of the Czech Republic on the European and global art scene.”
The TV version of the film will premiere on ARTE on April 13, 2019. A feature film version will be released theatrically, though no date yet has been set for the premiere.
TV Programming in the Czech Republic “The objective of the TV Programming schemes is to give producers the opportunity to get high-quality funding and the best possible distribution for selected projects. The schemes has received more attention with the rise of quality TV, one of the first successful projects supported being The Borgias,” Staníková explains. Other projects that have been given support include hits like the Scandinavian series Trapped and The Bridge, the German series Babylon Berlin, the French series The Returned, and, most recently, the adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novels, My Brilliant Friend. The primary criterion for winning support is the participation of at least three broadcasters from different countries. But awarded projects often have seven, nine, even up to twelve broadcasters. “Coproductions are more successful over all in this sector,” Staníková says. “That’s another reason for the success of Scandinavian, German, and French productions. They have a long tradition with coproductions and structures in place.”
„Then, when I was about 13, a miracle happened,” Třeštíková recalls. “I saw Audition, and the world changed. “
So far, but also few have applied. Czechs obtained one grant, in 2005, for Tomáš Kučera’s documentary Wichterle, produced by Armada Films. Generally, however, small countries like the Czech Republic are not too visible in financing scheme. Creative Europe MEDIA is currently trying to remedy that, to some degree, by assesment of projects based on which and how many small countries are involved. The good news is that a number of other Czech projects with international involvement have appeared recently that could have a shot at getting support, due to the fact that they’ve been conceived as coproductions from the start. “So I think there’s a glimmer of better times ahead,” Staníková says.
FILMS TO COME
FILMS TO COME IN DEVELOPMENT
Films to Come Selected new Czech feature films in development, production, post-production or ready for release. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. IN DEVELOPMENT
The film takes us on a journey of the author and her diary. Something strange is happening in her life. A Moose is always appearing. Is it trying to tell her something? She has to follow. The story starts in Czechia and the Czech stories and protagonists lead us further, across the borders – the same way the Moose goes. Only here the real Moose odyssey starts. We are led through Europe and at the end to Canada, where the Moose message is finally fulfilled. On the way, in different places, she meets protagonists who all have something in common: they have participated in various humans’ attempts to deal with moose, to control it. While the moose stayed the same specific indomesticable creature, people, after these encounters, ended up changed completely.
Babu in the City of Night
A children’s film noir detective story with elements of sci-fi. 8-year-old Babu lives on a high-rise estate just with her mum. Often, she is left alone at home but she doesn’t mind as she has someone to talk to – a parrot that all of a sudden showed up on her balcony and stayed. When a thief steals it, Babu sets off on a night-time expedition to save her animal friend. On her travels she finds unexpected allies: an unsuccessful rapper, a night jogger and a homeless man. Together they must overcome the mad Professor X who is able to transform humans into animals and vice versa.
After a revelation predicting the approaching end of the world, a rich woman decides to have a gigantic concrete fortress built, where she and her family could hide. When the mysterious voice leading her fades away – which means she is cured and sane again – she starts to feel an urge to find out why it all happened to her and what influence the fortress – the materialized symbol of the forthcoming end – has on the inhabitants in its neighborhood. The loss of firm ground makes them react in certain way, and ironically, the apocalyptic prophecy somehow starts to materialize.
Happily for Ever The closing film of the director’s trilogy about partnerships of today. Introducing a mosaic of six different stories, which in some way deviate from the classic, experienced model of a relationship. Emphasis is placed on the intimacy and fragility of individual human destinies. The partial time-lapse method documents the relationships of the protagonists, their development, the difficulties, the compromises and the challenges.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Amoosed! runtime: 70 min estimated release: 2020 director: Hana Nováková produced by: Kateřina Traburová – GURU FILM (CZ) in co-production with: FAMU (CZ)
ANIMATION original title: Babu v nočním městě runtime: 75 min estimated release: 2023 director: Petr Vodička produced by: Radim Procházka – Produkce Radim Procházka (CZ)
FICTION original title: Mlčenlivost runtime: 90 min estimated release: June 2020 director: Martin Ryšavý produced by: Viktor Schwarcz – Cineart TV Prague (CZ)
DOCUMENTARY original title: Šťastně až na věky runtime: 85 min estimated release: March 2022 director: Jana Počtová produced by: Martin Hůlovec – Punk Film (CZ)
FILMS TO COME in development
A drama inspired by the life and personal development of Václav Havel, prominent Czech playwright/ dissident/ president. The film focuses on Havel’s transformation from successful – then banned – playwright of the late 60’s into human rights fighter in the 70’s leading to his presidency in late 80’s. His transformation is the key here as this is not just descriptive biopic but drama of self-doubting intellectual torn between his passions and his self-imposed duties. From careless bohemian Havel grows into mature man realizing that if he has the opportunity to free the whole nation then he must accept this responsibility. Both for the greater good and to prove his worth - and to prove it above all to himself.
The Last Race
The sports drama tells the true story of Bohumil Hanč and Václav Vrbata, two pioneers of Czech skiing, who perished in the Krkonoše mountains during a dramatic race in 1913. With his wife expecting a child, Hanč had promised never to race again. Unfortunately, he gave in to pressure from his friends and took on one last race. The third protagonist in this story was German skier Emmerich Rath who, on the brink of collapse himself, dragged Hanč back to their camp. Sadly, Rath was unable to save Hanč. From the archives, we can reconstruct the race almost minute by minute. However, what exactly happened when Hanč and Vrbata met at the Harrach stones in the middle of the storm will forever remain a mystery.
Charlotte (30) is returning to the wild Slovak mountains she escaped from as a child. Still full of self-hate, she wants to hide and be alone after a recent traumatic miscarriage. Instead, she is confronted by the locals with her past. The mystery surrounding the death of her little sister and the slim hope she might be still alive makes Charlotte search for answers. Whatever she does though, only strengthens the villagers’ belief she is a witch from the woods, like the one who supposedly murdered her sister years ago. To find the truth, Charlotte will first need to accept herself and finally face reality.
Saving One Who Was Dead After the father falls into a coma, his family finds itself in an extreme life situation. The mother and her son quietly focus all their strength. They meekly accept the diagnosis but defy the verdict. They decide to take action, to bring light into the darkness and confront the silence with words.
The Ugly Mandarine
Yiou, a Chinese double bass player who is finishing her master degree in a music academy, and Greta, a Slovak radiologist, are an interracial couple living in Prague. The story starts 30 days before Yiou’s current visa would expire. If the commission won’t accept her partnership visa application, Yiou will have to go back to China right after her graduation concert. And with their relationship at stake, problems at school and the xenophobic sentiments in Czech Republic, Yiou starts to think it’s a lost battle but still doesn’t want to give up so easily. Making the decision of applying for the partnership visa for both of them seems to be a big step forward in their relationship...
Year of a Widow
After a fatal health collapse of her husband, Petra overnight becomes a widow. As she soon finds out, her grief and loneliness are not the only challenges that she has to face. Unexpectedly demanding are also countless practical and administrative tasks that a person’s death brings in the 21st century. The fiction debut of an awarded documentary director draws an intimate and minimalistic drama that touches a taboo topic and also captures a clash between a person’s individual perception of a situation and the reality.
FICTION original title: Havel runtime: 128 min estimated release: May 2020 director: Slávek Horák produced by: Slávek Horák – TVORBA films (CZ) in co-production with: Novinski (SK)
FICTION original title: Poslední závod runtime: 90 min estimated release: December 2020 director: Tomáš Hodan produced by: Ondřej Beránek – Punk Film (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Televison (CZ), D.N.A. Production (SK)
FICTION original title: Světlonoc runtime: 100 min estimated release: February 2020 director: Tereza Nvotová produced by: Miloš Lochman – moloko film (CZ), Peter Badač – BFILM (SK)
FICTION original title: Zpráva o záchraně mrtvého runtime: 90 min estimated release: April 2020 director: Václav Kadrnka produced by: Václav Kadrnka – Sirius Films (CZ)
FICTION original title: Ošklivá Mandarínka runtime: 90 min estimated release: April 2020 director: Piaoyu Xie produced by: Veronika Kührová, Michal Kráčmer – Analog Vision (CZ) in co-production with: Hitchhiker Cinema (SK)
FICTION original title: Rok vdovy runtime: 90 min estimated release: May 2021 director: Veronika Lišková produced by: Petra Oplatková, Artemio Benki – Artcam Films (CZ) in co-production with: Telemark (PL), Peter Kerekes Film (SK)
FILMS TO COME IN PRODUCTION IN production A film on the phenomenon of Czechoslovak politician Alexander Dubček, one of the most prominent personalities of The Prague Spring of 1968, the author of the concept of “socialism with a human face”. The film shows internal, political and social conflict of the time in a new light and in an age when most of the protagonists of this story no longer need to hide any secrets. Even if they do, we will seek to uncover them. Therefore, we won’t shy away from staged situations, confrontations or investigative filming methods.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Všichni lidé budou bratři runtime: 80 min estimated release: November 2019 director: Robert Kirchhoff produced by: Robert Kirchhoff – atelier.doc (SK) in co-production with: endorfilm (CZ), Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK)
The film opens the hitherto taboo topic of online child abuse. Statistics show that the problem is becoming bigger with each passing day. Unfortunately, awareness remains very low. The main narrative line of the film follows a radical psychosocial experiment, through which we show what the children aged 10–14 years face in the virtual space. The experiment comes out of reality and several months of research.
DOCUMENTARY original title: V síti runtime: 90 min estimated release: June 2019 director: Vít Klusák, Barbora Chalupová produced by: Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda – Hypermarket Film (CZ) in co-production with: Peter Kerekes Film (SK)
Based on Hanna Schott’s book of the same name, the film depicts the political events of the autumn of 1989 in Leipzig as seen by little protagonist Fritzi, who is searching for her friend Sophie. Sophie had asked Fritzi to look after her dog Sputnik for the summer holidays but instead of coming back to school, Sophie and her parents immigrated to the West and Fritzi doesn’t know how to return the dog to Sophie. Fritzi’s efforts led her to the demonstrations which are starting to take place every Monday. Thanks to her bravery and the miracle of historical situation they meet again.
ANIMATION original title: Fany byla při tom runtime: 79 min estimated release: June 2019 director: Ralf Kukula, Matthias Bruhn produced by: Ralf Kukula – Balance Film (DE), Richard Lutterbeck – TrickStudio Lutterbeck (DE) in co-production with: DogHouse Films (LU), Artemis Productions (BE), MAUR film (CZ)
The story of Riki, a ten-year-old boy, who dives into a big adventure, taking place in two different worlds: “Yourland” is a fantasy world, a place, where everything is possible and where dreams and crazy ideas come true. The other world is Riki’s real world – cold, grey and shrouded in difficult family problems. Time will show though that all the problems can be solved, if we choose the right path. Heart of a Tower is not just a fantasy full of crazy inventions, giant robots, and magical creatures, it also shows the problems kids nowadays have to face.
ANIMATION original title: Srdce věže runtime: 85 min estimated release: December 2020 director: Peter Budinský produced by: Peter Badač – BFILM.cz (CZ) in co-production with: Stacka (BE), BFILM (SK)
Kryštof, a youth approaching adulthood, is living as a new postulant before taking his vows in a community of monks somewhere in Czech Šumava mountains. Not only does he share with the brothers their world of contemplation, but also their role as a link in the long chain smuggling fugitives from the Communist regime across the border to Bavaria. Kryštof once wanted to flee from the world into a monastery, but instead he has to flee to save his very life and to understand it is his last chance to revolt against the brutal political power and save a loved person.
FICTION original title: Kryštof runtime: 110 min estimated release: December 2019 director: Zdeněk Jiráský cast: Mikuláš Bukovjan, Alexandra Borbély, David Uzsak, Stanislav Majer produced by: Olga Raitoralová – Fulfilm (CZ), Marian Urban – ALEF FILM & MEDIA (SK)
All Men Become Brothers
Caught in the Net
Fritzi – A Miraculous Revolutionary Tale
Heart of a Tower
FILMS TO COME IN PRODUCTION
Based on Evžen Boček’s 2012 comedic novel of the same name, the story takes place in the second half of the 1990’s, when the Czech aristocracy was given back the property confiscated by the communist governments. Frank Kostka returns from New York to the Czech Republic with his wife Vivien and daughter Marie to take over the family castle. The members of Kostka family, who have never been to the Czech Republic before, have an idealistic notion about their castle, which, in reality, is falling apart.
FICTION original title: Poslední aristokratka runtime: 100 min estimated release: October 2019 director: Jiří Vejdělek cast: Hynek Čermák, Tatiana Vilhelmová, Martin Pechlát, Pavel Liška produced by: Ondřej Zima, Silvie Michajlova – Evolution Films (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), PubRes (SK)
What would you do with your life, if you knew that you have a limited time ahead of you? Much shorter than an average life? Members of The Tap Tap – a music band made up of physically disabled – or rather crippled as they would call themselves – students of Jedlička Institute in Prague have a pretty clear idea. They want to live and enjoy every single minute of it. The Tap Tap orchestra shows how to confront difficulties and obstacles. And above all, how to have fun in your life. The members of the band are strong personalities with a direct attitude to life. They drink, smoke, curse, love, as long as they enjoy it. The film explores the spirit of survival and the wild lust for life against all the odds.
DOCUMENTARY original title: The Tap Tap – Postiženi muzikou runtime: 80 min estimated release: June 2019 director: Radovan Síbrt produced by: Karel Poupě, Alžběta Karásková – PINK (CZ) in co-production with: HBO Europe (CZ)
The story takes place in the Kingdom of Bohemia at the dawn of the 15th century. It is loosely inspired by the life of Jan Žižka of Trocnov before he became one of seven Generals in history to never lose a battle, who always fought for he rights of his common man. This film tells the story of the brutal and merciless mercenary before all that – who fought for pay instead.
FICTION original title: Jan Žižka runtime: 120 min estimated release: November 2019 director: Petr Jákl cast: Ben Foster, Matthew Goode, Michael Caine, William Moseley produced by: , Martin J. Barab – Double Tree Entertainment (US), Petr Jákl – WOG FILM (CZ), Cassian Elwes – Elevated Films (UK) in co-production with: KBernhardt (US), Trebor Productions (US)
This used to be a deep dark forest, now it’s a housing estate of prefabricated apartment buildings. The home of the protagonist, a manual worker painting roofs, whom everyone just calls Vandam. He lives alone in a housing estate apartment in the suburbs of Prague, working out every day to stay in shape. The evenings are spent drinking beer with his chums at the local pub, the North Star. Vandam’s chums from the North Star dub him their “national hero”. According to a local legend, Vandam took part in the demonstration on the National Street in Prague on 17 November, 1989, where – according to the legend – he set history into motion by dealing the first blow.
FICTION original title: Národní třída runtime: 95 min estimated release: September 2019 director: Štěpán Altrichter cast: Hynek Čermák, Kateřina Janečková, Jan Cina, Václav Neužil produced by: Pavel Strnad – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: 42film (DE), Czech Television (CZ), ZDF/ARTE (DE)
Mrs. Zahrádková plans to convince residents of the house she lives in to renovate it. Newly-wed Bernášek couple have just moved in and are surprised by the inability of others to agree on anything. Mrs. Roubíčková strictly controls the process of their meetings, not allowing any deviation of rules. Mrs. Horváthová doesn’t understand the subject much, but comments upon everything. Naive Mr. Švec represents his mother and is quite lost without her. Mrs. Procházková with her business partner Novák are looking for new ways to increase the property value.
FICTION original title: Vlastníci runtime: 85 min estimated release: September 2019 director: Jiří Havelka cast: Stanislav Majer, Kryštof Hádek, Vojtěch Kotek, Tereza Voříšková produced by: Marek Jeníček – Cinemart (CZ)
The Last Aristocrat
Lust for Life
The Owners 39
FILMS TO COME IN PRODUCTION
Tony, Shelly & Genius
Wolves on the Borders!
A young, good-looking city girl, Marie, marries into a small Austrian town of Schwarzwald. A little vain for a small-town woman, she likes to dress up and make her own clothes. The town is by Austrian borders in an area, which was forcibly annexed by Czechoslovakia in 1920. Most of the Czech-speaking citizens chose German nationality at the beginning of the WW2. While peaceful during the war, the area was swept by violence right after the war. A group of malicious neighbours force 14 wealthiest town inhabitants in front of the people’s court and they are murdered. Marie and her two children have to cross the border into the woods, where they build a temporary shed of branches.
FICTION original title: Krajina ve stínu runtime: 120 min estimated release: December 2019 director: Bohdan Sláma cast: Magdalena Borová, Stanislav Majer, Pavel Nový, Bára Poláková produced by: Martin Růžička – LUMINAR Film (CZ) in co-production with: Nepenthe Film (DK), Filmpark production (SK)
Tony has been glowing since the day he was born. Ashamed, he spends all his time hiding out. Just before the Christmas holidays, a new girl moves into Tony’s building, Shelly, an odd girl with a flashlight and a strange way of expressing herself. Tony tries his best to escape her, but what chance does he have when he’s in a house filled with so many odd inhabitants. What’s more, he needs to figure out who’s behind the circuit of dark cracks that sucks out all the light bulbs and leaves the house is in perpetual darkness. A film about being different, about friendship, about overcoming one’s fears, and about Christmas.
ANIMATION original title: Tonda, Slávka a génius runtime: 70 min estimated release: April 2021 director: Filip Pošivač, Barbora Valecká produced by: Pavla Janoušková Kubečková – nutprodukce (CZ)
It has been more than one hundred years since the last wolf was killed in the area of the Czech Republic. Nowadays wolves are coming back. However, they are not always welcomed. The whole story takes place in the Broumov region which is known for its beautiful environment, but also for the highest concentration of sheep farmers in the Czech Republic. Film follows a conflict which is escalating between two groups of inhabitants: On one side there are farmers who become more and more radical and try to find the way to expel wolves again. On the other side there are people who welcome the wolves and try to protect them.
Documentary original title: Vlci na hranicích! runtime: 80 min estimated release: June 2020 director: Martin Páv produced by: Zuzana Kučerová – Frame Films (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ)
The film, whose stylization reminds of a silent cinema, connects political and philosophical extremes of 1913 in a story of a young man participating at the creation of a new world. A mysterious adventurer, who was known as Peter the Lett, gets involved in a tragicomic and surreal race from a routine clerk job and a romantic passion in Riga to preparation of world revolution in Vienna, psychoanalysis at Freud’s salon and seduction of Mata Hari in Paris.
FICTION original title: Rok před válkou runtime: 90 min estimated release: December 2019 director: Dāvis Sīmanis produced by: Roberts Vinovskis – Lokomotiv Production (LV) in co-production with: Produkce Radim Procházka (CZ), Studio Uljana Kim (LT)
His nickname was “Czech locomotive”. Eighteen world records holder Emil Zátopek is most famous for the Olympic Games in Helsinki, where he won three gold medals. Nobody has repeated his success and athletics experts doubt that anyone ever will. Emil Zátopek’s grandiose success comes alive in the memories of his loved ones, friends and rivals. 1968: Ron Clarke, an Australian runner comes to see Zátopek. We are transferred to the past, during their dialogue, to the beginnings of Emil’s passion for running, his first success at the WCA in Berlin, his meeting with javelin thrower Dana, his future wife, but also learn about the increasing pressure of the communist regime.
FICTION original title: Zátopek runtime: 110 min estimated release: 2020 director: David Ondříček cast: Václav Neužil, Martha Issová produced by: David Ondříček, Kryštof Mucha – Lucky Man Films (CZ) in co-production with: Bufo (FI)
The Year Before the War
FILMS TO COME in post-production IN post-production
Another Chance, a sensitive psychological portrait of a woman, her partner and other family members, tells the story of an unequal relationship between Monika, a successful middle-aged woman, and a young marriage fraudster, Mirek. The story of a woman who has fatally complicated her own life is the second feature by filmmaker Eva Tomanová whose previous documentary Always Together was nominated for the 2014 IDFA First Appearance Award.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Začít znovu runtime: 75 min estimated release: April 2019 director: Eva Tomanová produced by: Jiří Konečný – endorfilm (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television
Ľudovít lost his son in a ruthless neo-Nazi attack. Because of a hole in the Slovak legislation, the attackers are soon released and Ľudovít is faced with the absurd injustice. He struggles with the apathetic police force, the opportunistic judge, but also with the fact that he was never close with his own son. The more he blames himself for his son’s death, the more he becomes distant from his wife Zuzana and the younger daughter Janka, and the more he tries to influence the investigation. When he learns that the attack was not an accidental neo-Nazi incident, but involved an organized crime gang, he realizes that he is facing an enemy beyond his powers. He tries at least to save the little he has left – his own family.
FICTION original title: Ostrým nožom runtime: 90 min estimated release: March 2019 director: Teodor Kuhn cast: Miroslav Krobot, Roman Luknár, Ela Lehotská produced by: Jakub Viktorín – nutprodukcia (SK) in co-production with: nutprodukce (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK) international sales: WIDE
One day in the life of a perpetrator of domestic violence, Jaroslav K. (45) who is handsome and seemingly good-natured son, father and decent husband. In reality, Jaroslav K. is pathologically jealous of his wife Blanka and very much afraid one day she’ll leave him together with their three children. Jaroslav K. doesn’t hesitate to employ violence, deceit and terror against others, what ultimately leads to a family tragedy.
FICTION original title: Žáby bez jazyka runtime: 90 min estimated release: July 2019 director: Mira Fornay cast: Jaroslav Plesl, Regina Rázlová, Jan Doman, Petra Fornay produced by: Viktor Schwarcz – Cineart TV Prague (CZ), Mira Fornay – Mirafox (SK) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK)
Vít became a father very early, perhaps too early. Surprisingly enough, he fell happily and with determination into the parenthood. He adopted everything to the effort of provision of the family. He became a financial advisor- some kind of modern mercenary warrior operating in the jungle of finances. He soon becomes successful. When he learned to use his natural charisma in work, a huge career perspective opens before him. The success, however is possible only for the price of moral compromise. The issue of fatherhood shows here in a different light. An urgent question arises; to what extent it is possible for a man to be a good father, whilst still seeking father himself. Vít is a man on his journey to maturity in relationships as well as in the jungle called the world.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Otcové naši runtime: 80 min estimated release: April 2019 director: Martin Mareček produced by: Petr Oukropec – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: HBO Europe (CZ)
The ultimate documentary biography of Oscar winning Czech director Miloš Forman. From his youth in Czechoslovakia under Nazi burden and communist rule to his first successes abroad with the Czech New Wave, his exile in New York after the Prague Spring to his international fame. The intimate portrait of an outcast with exclusive access to family archive directed by award winning Czech documentary director Helena Třeštíková.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Forman vs Forman runtime: 75 min estimated release: May 2019 director: Helena Třeštíková produced by: Kateřina Černá – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: Alegria (FR), ARTE (FR), Czech Television (CZ)
By a Sharp Knife
Cook, F**k, Kill
Fathers of Ours
Forman vs Forman 41
FILMS TO COME IN POST-PRODUCTION
A documentary essay, a requiem for the vanishing species of Homo sapiens. Through the stories of three protagonists, the film maps the situation before the turning point, the last period when we are still human – in the old, nostalgic sense of the word. What are the attributes that characterize us and what are the motivations of people who want to change them and take them to the next level?
DOCUMENTARY original title: FREM runtime: 80 min estimated release: July 2019 director: Viera Čákanyová produced by: Nina Numankadic – Hypermarket Film (CZ) in co-production with: Punkchart films (SK)
In August 2017, a group of teenage ice hockey players from the Czech town of Náchod set off to Morocco onto what was to become the most interesting training camp of their careers. They came here not only to play ice hockey, but also to get to know the locals and their way of life. Several months later, the boys from the Moroccan town of Salé headed to Czech Republic to experience the same thing vice versa. Two teams, two cultures, one mutual interaction. A walk on thin ice full of liberating humour.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Letní hokej runtime: 76 min estimated release: April 2019 director: Rozálie Kohoutová, Tomáš Bojar produced by: Tomáš Bojar – Cinema Arsenal (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ)
"Nobody fucks with the truth" says Vlastimil Reiner, retired and immobile 90-year-old army colonel, as his friend Tonda helps him with his personal hygiene. The two men are about to embark on the last mission of their lives: to find and kill the former communist prosecutor who used to send the elite of the nation to their deaths. His crimes remain unpunished, denied and forgotten. Now the two former resistance fighters who used to battle a totalitarian society must battle their old age, their loved ones, and an era they no longer understand.
FICTION original title: Staříci runtime: 85 min estimated release: May 2019 director: Martin Dušek, Ondřej Provazník cast: Jiří Schmitzer, Ladislav Mrkvička produced by: Jiří Konečný – endorfilm (CZ) in co-production with: sentimentalfilm (SK), Czech Television (CZ)
A little boy is sent by his parents to live with a foster mother in a village somewhere in Eastern Europe in an attempt to save him from the mass extermination of the Jews. The foster mother unexpectedly dies, however, and the little boy is forced to make his way all alone in an unfriendly world where only local rules, prejudice and superstition prevail. His attempts to survive after the war are replaced by a different kind of struggle. A struggle with himself, a struggle for his soul, for his future...
FICTION original title: Nabarvené ptáče runtime: 168 min estimated release: May 2019 director: Václav Marhoul cast: Petr Kotlár, Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgaard, Udo Kier produced by: Václav Marhoul – Silver Screen (CZ) in co-production with: Eduard Kučera (CZ), Directory Films (UA), Innogy (CZ), Richard Kaucký (CZ), PubRes (SK) (PubRes), Czech Television (CZ)
Martin P. is a young Argentinean piano virtuoso and composer, who has been since his breakdown four years ago a patient of El Borda, the largest and the most notable but also controversial psychiatric hospital in Latin America. The child prodigy and the most promising talent of his generation is now trying to find a way how to overcome his mental disease and come back to life outside the walls of the asylum and on the concert stages, while working on his new composition Enfermaria. Solo tells unique, yet universal story about the obsession with perfection and creation, narrating the evolution of a human being who draws his strength from his own fragility.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Sólo runtime: 90 min estimated release: May 2019 director: Artemio Benki produced by: Artemio Benki, Petra Oplatková – Artcam Films (CZ) in co-production with: Golden Girls Filmproduktion (AT), Buen Destino (RA), Petit à Petit Production (FR), Lomo Cine (RA)
The Painted Bird
FILMS TO COME new RELEASES new releases
Strong and thrilling story of a Czech pilot and the endless love for flying. The life of army soldiers of socialist Czechoslovakia in 1989 was filled with moments of freedom in the air, but largely destroyed by the State security, its persecution and informers. Four friends and their flight mentor serve at the border for years. The death of a former RAF pilot in 1974 after his attempt to fly westward because of being persecuted by the communist regime changes everything.
FICTION original title: Narušitel runtime: 86 min national release: 24 January 2019 director: David Balda cast: Pavel Neškudla, Jiří Dvořák, Petr Kostka, Stanislav Zindulka produced by: David Balda – Actoress Production (CZ)
The film, based on the famous novel of the same title by British author Simon Mawer, nominated for Man Booker Prize in 2009, tells a story of love, friendship and important life choices; its main heroines are Liesel Landauer and her girlfriend Hana, who were bound together in a lifelong relationship and to one extraordinary house that was built by the architect Von Abt for Liesel and her husband Viktor. The story is inspired by the iconic modernist Tugendhat villa in Brno designed by the famous German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
FICTION original title: Skleněný pokoj runtime: 115 min national release: 14 March 2019 director: Julius Ševčík produced by: Rudolf Biermann – IN Film Praha in co-production with: Investito, Czech Television, JOJ TV
Dear friends, we are delighted to announce that The Lucky Four will celebrate 50’th anniversary next year. Yes, it seems unbelievable but their first adventure was published on 15 May, 1969. The story of the new film begins by a campfire. The Lucky Four tell the best, the most exciting and the most hilarious stories which happened in the past year. We’ll experience a climbing trip, search for a werewolf, space journey and even Christmas. It is up to the spectators to choose which story they like the most. Will you support Bobík, Fifinka, Myšpulín or Pinďa?
ANIMATION original title: Velké dobrodružství Čtyřlístku runtime: 75 min national release: 4 April 2019 director: Michal Žabka voices: Tereza Bebarová, Bohdan Tůma, Jiří Ployhar, Jan Maxián produced by: Vít Němeček – Nakladatelství Čtyřlístek (CZ)
In a single moment, the entire life of a girl Una is turned upside down; her grandpa is abducted by aliens and her mum collapses and ends up in a hospital. Una, in her basement, discovers that her grandpa is an alien himself whose spaceship hit the planet some time ago, and there’s still his pilot, a small grumpy robot. Una and the robot have less than 24 hours to find and rescue her grandpa. This extraordinary adventure will lead to a new friendship, the rational robotic logic will be replaced by emotions and Una’s selfless love will save her partly alien family.
FICTION original title: Moj dida je pao s Marsa runtime: 100 min festival release: March 2019 director: Drazen Žarković, Marina Andree Skop produced by: Peter Milić – Studio dim (HR) in co-production with: Wady Films (LU), Filmbin (NO), MasterFilm (CZ), Senca Studio (SI), Artileria (SK), Fabrika (BA)
Situated in Prague - while the same story may easily happen in any city in Europe or North America that attracts immigrants and is big enough to shelter stories we never get to know. Song, 20-year-old Vietnamese, hoped for a better future in Europe but now, in a Vietnamese district in Prague, he is trapped in a marijuana grow house and has life of a modern slave. Police crushes in. Song runs away on the rooftop of a condo building in a nearby district where he breaks down. Mr. Rypar (75) lives alone. He is fond of the old times, living in a strong opposition to modern world. Rypar goes up on the roof and meets Song standing on the very edge of the roof crying.
FICTION original title: Na střeše runtime: 95 min national release: 7 February 2019 director: Jiří Mádl cast: Alois Švehlík, Duy Anh Tran, Mária Bartalos, Vojtěch Dyk produced by: Monika Kristlová – Dawson Films (CZ) in co-production with: Hitchhiker Cinema (SK), Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK), Barrandov Studio (CZ), Innogy (CZ), Investito (CZ)
Freedom in the Air
The Glass Room
Great Adventure of the Lucky Four
My Grandpa Is an Alien
On the Roof
FILMS TO COME new RELEASES
Tereza (30) and her sister Petra (29) attend their father’s second wedding. Tereza is accompanied by František, her ex-boyfriend. They didn’t tell anyone about their breakup. After the wedding all three go to visit the sister’s mother Ester who has lived with their grandma since the divorce. While visiting grandma’s house, Tereza decides she would take care of the grandma and the house from now on. The film pictures one complicated small family whose members softly balance between their expectations and illusions.
FICTION original title: Sněží! runtime: 76 min national release: 9 May 2019 director: Kristina Nedvědová cast: Petra Nesvačilová, Hana Vagnerová, Vanda Hybnerová, Monika Pošívalová produced by: Jitka Kotrlová – Frame Films (CZ) in co-production with: Barrandov Studio (CZ), Bystrouška Audio (CZ), SoundMice (CZ), i/o post (CZ), love. Frame (CZ)
Playful and poetic journey through the history of the electronic sound. Music is a game. And for creating the electronic music the main tool and toy is an instrument. Our guide in this musical playground is Johana, music composer and director of the film. Johana escapes into the dreamlike space beyond time, the world of imagination – to a recording studio; an almost mythical space where we visit contemporary representatives of different music movements and approaches towards a musical instrument.
DOCUMENTARY original title: The Sound is Innocent runtime: 65 min estimated release: April 2019 director: Johana Ožvold produced by: Kristýna Michálek Květová – Cinémotif Films (CZ) in co-production with: Punkchart Films (SK), UPP (CZ), Films de Force Majeure (FR) Radio and Television Slovakia (SK), SoundSquare (CZ), Czech Television (CZ)
“Beware of old people, they have nothing to lose.” The story of a retired teacher, who gets angry at the whole world. She doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with a sense of being a victim, who always has to surrender. She buys an illegal gun, learns to shoot, and then points it at a man who seems to be omnipotent and non-punishable. “Are you threatening me with life imprisonment? It will not be a long sentence. In addition, jail and retirement house are not so different.”
FICTION original title: Teroristka runtime: 100 min national release: 4 April 2019 director: Radek Bajgar cast: Iva Janžurová, Tatiana Vilhelmová, Pavel Liška, Eva Holubová produced by: Petr Erben – Logline Production (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK)
This is not just a game. It is an escape from everyday life, an escape which is impossible to give up. Benzina Dehtov is a black comedy about a group of men who decided to escape from their everyday lives through role-playing. They pretend to be soldiers of SWAT team, evacuating community centres, dragging unsuspecting people into their game. They are driven by adrenalin and delusion which makes them feel like Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich, giving to the poor. Everything goes smoothly until they find themselves in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
FICTION original title: Úhoři mají nabito runtime: 90 min national release: 21 February 2019 director: Vladimír Michálek cast: Hynek Čermák, Matěj Hádek, Kryštof Hádek, Jiří Vyorálek produced by: Vladimír Michálek – Slothmachine (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), PFX (CZ)
Věra has lived a wonderful life with Jindřich, and she is fully determined to fulfil his last wish – running a marathon! She and her daughters would split up the route into four parts, and they’d overcome the over 42-kilometer-long challenge as a family relay team. There’s three months left until the start, and trainer Vojta has prepared a great fitness plan. The daughters aren’t rushing to start running, however. They’re dealing with a different sort of problems altogether. What applies to running applies to life as well. It’s important to persevere and not give up when the finish line is just beyond reach...
FICTION original title: Ženy v běhu runtime: 93 min national release: 30 January 2019 director: Martin Horský cast: Jenovéfa Boková, Tereza Kostková, Veronika Khek Kubařová, Zlata Adamovská produced by: Tomáš Hoffman – Infinity Prague (CZ) in co-production with: CinemArt (CZ)
The Sound is Innocent
Women on the Run 44
CZECH FILM / Spring 2019 Issued by Czech Film Fund / Czech Film Center Editors Hedvika Petrželková, Markéta Šantrochová, Barbora Ligasová Copy editor Alex Zucker Graphic design Cellula s.r.o. Cover photo The Kite by BFILM.cz Printed by Uniprint Print run 600 Not for sale Czech Film Center Národní 28 Prague 1, 110 00 Czech Republic email@example.com www.filmcenter.cz
Czech Film Center's official magazine presenting Czech films and filmmakers.