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PRODUCTION Czech Republic

The shoot for The Little Crusader wraps in Italy


- Karel Roden plays an elderly knight in search of his son in this medieval road movie based on the myth about a children's crusade to the Holy Land

The shoot for The Little Crusader wraps in Italy
A photo from the shoot of The Little Crusader

Czech director Václav Kadrnka wrapped principal photography for his second feature-length project, The Little Crusader, on 13 December in Sardinia. The filmmaker gained international acclaim through his student films before pocketing awards on the festival circuit for his feature debut, Eighty Letters. This new film is billed as a “medieval road movie” set in the 13th century, and is based on an epic poem by Jaroslav Vrchlický and the myth of the “children's crusade”. Nine-year-old Jeník, the son of an old knight called Bořek, runs away from home to travel to the Holy Land but goes missing in the process, and so his father goes after him. The film focuses on the recurring motifs of “knighthood (whether true or false), children's need for a role model, and the ideal as well as the fallen world”.

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“The shoot began on 21 September in the Apulia region, in Southern Italy. Almost the entire film was shot on location there, with the exception of four days in Le Castella in Calabria and two days in Sardinia, where we wrapped the shoot on 13 December,” executive producer Václav Kadrnka Sr told Cineuropa. The principal photography clocked in at 37 days of shooting in total. The director reveals his angle on the theme and story as follows: “We soon start to realise that Jeník is actually an anti-hero, precisely because he is an archetypal child. His first initiation as a character, the original impulse that sets his mind and body in motion, gradually evaporates, and his little body is increasingly confronted with the reality of the adult world. He soon ceases to be the master of his own fate and becomes a puppet in the hands of dangerous manipulators.”

Karel Roden donned a suit of armour to play the role of Bořek, the father piecing together fragments of information about the fate of his missing son, while award-winning cinematographer Jan Baset Střítežský was behind the camera. The project is being produced by Václav Kadrnka's company, Sirius Films, with Jan Macola and Václav Kadrnka Sr acting as executive producers. Czech Television, Slovakian production company Artileria and Barrandov Studios are co-producing. Carlo Cresto-Dina of Tempesta is the executive producer on the Italian side, and the Czech State Cinema Fund has been supporting the production. All of the post-production work is expected to be finished by May 2016.

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