Czech and Slovak projects ripe for development at Karlovy Vary
by Martin Kudláč
- KARLOVY VARY 2016: Six Czech and Slovakian projects with international potential were presented at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s Pitch & Feedback industry session
The Czech Film Center and Slovak Film Institute rounded up six projects from their territories for the Pitch & Feedback industry session at the 51st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The titles were all in the early stages of development and harboured a great deal of international potential.
One of the projects evaluated was Case Closed, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by French-based Czech writer Patrik Ouředník, which the author describes as a “faux crime story and a truly metaphysical thriller”. The story unfolds between an inspector and a retired writer, who plays an imaginary game while the inspector digs into a cold murder case and a petty crime linked to the writer, with the game representing “the struggle between good and evil, in which anyone can win”. An art collective by the name of Rafani is assuring the transition of the story from book to screenplay, with a group of five debuting directors bringing the tale to life. Czech company Moloko Film is staging what is to be a Czech-French-Slovak co-production aiming to shoot between August and September 2018.
Tomáš Pavlíček is readying his next feature after his 2014 debut, Totally Talking [+see also:
film profile]. The project, preliminarily entitled Get Together, revolves around a family and their attempt to sell a cottage, an act that starts to polarise the family members. Described as a bittersweet comedy, the director calls the story “a comedy about difficult life and peaceful death”. Principal photography is slated for November 2017, with a modest budget of €800,000, and March 2018 is the planned release date. Vít Zapletal, another filmmaker from the emerging generation of new talents, is also preparing his sophomore feature, after his graduation film that doubled as his feature debut, Dust of the Ground [+see also:
interview: Vit Zapletal
film profile], a contemplative movie labelled as “Catholic realism”. Zapletal’s next topic will be freedom under a totalitarian regime, as he tells the story of two friends who decide to immigrate to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1972. Background Films is producing this project with an estimated budget of €1.2 million, which is expected to be finished by 2019.
Slovakian director Peter Bebjak recently had a successful run with a marriage of genre and drama in The Cleaner [+see also:
interview: Martin Žiaran
interview: Peter Bebjak
film profile], and besides television projects, he is already working on his next feature, The Message. This Holocaust drama is inspired by the real-life events experienced by Auschwitz escapees Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba, and what came to be known in the history books as the “Vrba-Wetzler Report”. The Czech, Slovak and Polish co-production is estimated to cost just under €3 million, with Bebjak’s company D.N.A. Production staging it. “The Wetzler-Vrba story is a tale of monumental heroism. Our aim is to create a film about their day-to-day life, which at times may have also included understatement and occasional light humour, but it was also full of cruelty, atrocities and violence. We do not want to show it explicitly; we want to include it in the story, as an organic part of it, like breathing, without having to pointlessly exploit the ‘attraction of terror’,” the director explains as he describes how he intends to approach the story. Another Slovak project in development is the directorial debut by Martina Saková, the Slovak-Czech-German co-produced adventure-comedy Summer with Bernard. The film, aimed at a youth audience and their parents, and being produced by Slovak outfit SiLVERaRT, will tackle the issues of alcoholism and loneliness from a child’s perspective. The shoot is planned for summer 2017.
Lastly, Slovakian filmmaker Zuzana Liová returns with a new project after her international breakthrough, The House [+see also:
interview: Zuzana Liová
film profile] (2011). Liová aims to shoot Waiting, an intimate story revolving around existential questions and the universal topics of joy, love and freedom, from December 2017 to May 2018. The project is being produced by independent company HITCHHIKER Cinema and co-produced by Czech outfit Mimesis Film, and it has already received support from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. Liová reveals her ambition: “I intend to make a film about how finitude and infinity intersect in our lives, about how difficult it is for us to break our bonds, about our constant fear of the end, and about the kinds of love we are capable of. Dying is not just the physical process of ‘disappearing’ – it also has a symbolic meaning: our attitudes, habits and egoism disappear as well.”