Czech Television readies first projects for Arte
by Martin Kudláč
- The partnership with the European culture-focused public-service television channel is bearing its first fruit
The Czech public broadcaster, Czech Television, began collaborating with the channel Arte earlier this year. The agreement was made for a duration of two years, and both television channels are bound to invest €100,000 in the development of co-produced projects with a focus on culture and Europe, covering a variety of genres: documentary films, live-action features, music programmes and children’s shows. “The pooling of funding from both television companies will help to realise financially difficult projects, and the collaboration with Arte will enable us to present Czech filmmakers and their films abroad,” the spokesman for Czech Television, Alžběta Plívová, explains. Czech Television has become the seventh public broadcaster in Europe to launch such a co-operation agreement, joining the likes of Belgium (RTBF), Austria (ORF), Poland (TVP), Switzerland (SSR-SRG), Finland (YLE) and Greece (ERT).
Two projects are already being prepared: Life According to Václav Havel (Arte’s title being Václav Havel, un homme libre) and Jan Hus. Andrea Sedláčková, the director of Fair Play [+see also:
film profile], is working on the film about Václav Havel, whom she met in the summer of 1989. Sedláčková will construct the movie from 600 hours of archive footage and hundreds of unseen photographs, thus allowing Havel himself to be the narrator of his own life. “The first two-thirds are full of dramatic twists because the period of youth and coming-of-age is usually more interesting than harvesting the fruits and fading slowly from the scene. The status of Václav Havel during the revolution, his presidency, his retirement crowned by shooting the film Leaving… That was really difficult, as it’s challenging to reflect something we all clearly remember,” Sedláčková remarks. Arte will air the film on 16 November, and it will be screened on 20 November in the Lucerna cinema in Prague (which was built by Havel’s grandfather). Jan Hus is slated to be a two-part historical TV film focusing on the eminent Czech church reformist, to be prepared in time for the 600th anniversary of his burning at the stake next year. Jiří Svoboda (The Velvet Murderers) is directing the movie based on a script by Czech writer Eva Kantůrková (which is in turn based on her book about the eponymous preacher). “It’s a big project, maybe one of the biggest projects that Czech Television has ever embarked upon,” confesses director of programme development and programme formats Jan Maxa.
“The co-production with Arte enables us to shoot interesting themes in several different and attractive formats, and to bring our viewers exceptional and top-quality films. The partnership is also interesting for Arte’s French- and German-speaking audience, who, thanks to Czech co-productions, are able to see culturally unique products,” remarks Maxa. Besides Arte, the Czech public broadcaster has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, part of German television company ARD. “We are participating in a number of specific projects with television channels from the Visegrad region and with Austria’s ORF. Czech Television is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, where it plays an active role in several programming projects in the areas of music, children’s shows and documentary programmes together with television stations from Europe, Asia and America,” Plívová concludes.