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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Slovakia

Irena Pavlásková’s The Prague Orgy is almost completed


- Final touches are being put on the adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel by the Czech producer and filmmaker

Irena Pavlásková’s The Prague Orgy is almost completed
Jonas Chernick and Kseniya Rappoport in The Prague Orgy (© Bioscop)

Philip Roth, considered one of the best American post-war writers, granted rights to shoot the final book of his Zuckerman Bound trilogy, The Prague Orgy, to Czech writer-director-producer Irena Pavlásková back in 2013. It marks the first time that a Czech filmmaker receives rights from a literary figure of such esteem and reputation. Besides producing duties, Pavlásková adapted the book to script and directed the film as her seventh feature-length offering. Her previous film The Photograph [+see also:
film profile
, a biopic of Czech photographer Jan Saudek, was the second most viewed domestic film of 2015.

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The story follows the protagonist of the trilogy and the author’s alter ego Nathan Zuckermann who arrives, as the title suggests, to communist Czechoslovakia in Prague in 1976 to help banned writers and rescue a unique collection of short stories by a Yiddish author. Despite political oppression, he there finds a thriving social life as suppressed artists escape to freedom in their own way. Zuckerman attends decadent parties and meets Olga, a slightly eccentric writer who regards sexual adventures as a form of revolt against the totalitarian regime. The story is inspired by Roth’s own experiencea when he was traveling to Prague in the 1970s to meet Milan Kundera, Ivan Klíma, Ludvík Vaculík and other banned authors.

The writer’s on-page alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman is portrayed by Canadian actor and producer Jonas Chernick, while Russian actress Kseniya Rappoport stars opposite him as Olga. A host of Czech actors including Pavel Kříž, Klára Issová, Jiří Havelka, and Jakub Wehrenberg appear in supporting roles. Principal photography took place last August and October mainly in Prague, with a couple of shooting days in Canada. The film is currently in the final stage of post-production (mainly working on sound). Michal Kráčmer of Analog Vision confirmed to Cineuropa that the film will be ready by mid-August. The Prague Orgy will exist in two versions: the original English-Czech, and a Czech-dubbed version for local distribution.

The Prague Orgy is produced by Czech outfit Prague Movie Company, with Czech Television, Eydelle Film, Cineart TV Prague, Europeana Production, Analog Vision and Slovak co-producing partner ARINA. The project was supported by Czech Film Fund, Prague Film Fund, Slovakian Audiovisual Fund and Creative Europe MEDIA. The domestic premiere is set on 10 October via local distributor Bioscop while Magic Box Slovakia will release the film in the Slovakian cinemas. Producers are negotiating with sales agents.

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