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Petr Zelenka developing the provocative The Pilot, about the birth of a terrorist


- In the Czech director’s next feature film, he marries the hot topics of terrorism and new technology

Petr Zelenka developing the provocative The Pilot, about the birth of a terrorist
Director Petr Zelenka on the set of Lost in Munich (© Czech Television)

Petr Zelenka is already developing a new feature-length project, The Pilot, after his 2015 political meta-film imbued with the director’s notorious absurd brand of humour, Lost in Munich [+see also:
interview: Petr Zelenka
film profile
. The Czech writer-director-producer-playwright, who made a name for himself internationally with plays and films, wrote the story, which has been described as “the birth of a terrorist”.

“The protagonist has a strange perception of social justice,” the director tells Cineuropa after explaining that the film portrays a duo of characters operating a small business with drones. “Eventually, he hatches a plan to carry out an assassination with the drone on a public figure. It looks like he is about to dispatch a local presidential candidate, but he picks Dick Cheney instead,” the director reveals. Zelenka’s works usually have several layers to them, to which Lost in Munich stands as a testament. The Pilot will be no different, despite the director’s claim that it has a fairly simple storyline and a linear plot.

As he elaborates further on the process of coming up with the thought-provoking story that flirts with controversy, Zelenka says he will take a different route to the one that Chris Morris took in Four Lions [+see also:
film profile
. Despite the topicality of terrorism, The Pilot does not tackle fundamental extremism, but rather “the so-called haute couture of terrorism,” explains the director, implying that terrorism may have positive connotations, as it did in 19th-century Russia. He follows up with a reference to Violence, a book by Slovenian “academic pop star” and philosopher Slavoj Žižek, where the author says that violence is already ingrained in society by default. When asked about the possible challenges of the film, the director says he is looking forward to mastering the technique of shooting with a drone, and shooting the drone from a drone.

Zelenka wrote the script and is set to direct the film, which he is also producing through his own company, 0.7 km. He is currently seeking production funding. He envisions an international co-production between the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia and Serbia; nevertheless, he is open to other countries and partners willing to board the project. The director says he should be ready to shoot as soon as next summer after raising all the necessary finances for the production. However, he remains realistic and acknowledges that the funding process may take longer than envisaged. The project does not yet have a sales agent attached to it.

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