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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Norway

Romantic drama The Martian Ships hurtles into the second phase of production

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- The fiction feature debut by Czech documentary filmmaker Jan Foukal centres on the fragility and evanescence of life

Romantic drama The Martian Ships hurtles into the second phase of production
Actress Eliška Křenková and director Jan Foukal on the set of The Martian Ships (© David Konečný)

Czech documentary filmmaker Jan Foukal is currently shooting his first fiction feature, The Martian Ships. A graduate of Documentary Filmmaking from FAMU, Foukal shot the short documentaries Hello Babu, Egon Bondy’s Last Lecture and The Making Of, while also appearing in supporting roles in Jitka Rudolfová’s films Dreamers and Delight [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. His feature-length directorial debut was the documentary road movie America (produced by HBO Europe), where he also stars on screen, and which was unveiled in the documentary section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2015.

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The story of The Martian Ships is inspired by a collection of poems of the same name by musician Martin Kyšperský and his then-girlfriend, psychologist Alena Černá. The film, billed as a romantic drama, follows their relationship from its inception to its abrupt end, when Alena can no longer live with her stomach pain, which appears to be of psychosomatic origin. The story mirrors events in the actual relationship between Kyšperský and Černá, who died in 2016.

The title refers to Alena herself, who “flew through Martin’s life like a spaceship”, also echoing one of the movie’s main topics: the fragility and evanescence of life. Foukal explains in his director’s statement that “authenticity and civility” are the film’s bywords. Principal photography started in September 2019, and producer Silvie Michajlová, of Film Kolektiv, confirmed to Cineuropa that the second phase of shooting has just started, while the final phase will unfold in Norway in January 2020.

Czech actress Eliška Křenková, who most recently appeared in the social thriller A Certain Kind of Silence [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Michal Hogenauer
film profile
]
, stars as Alena, while the role of Martin will be played by Martin Kyšperský himself. Kyšperský and director Foukal (better known under the pseudonym Johannes Benz in musical circles) are also composing the film’s music. Cinematographer Jan Šuster, who lensed the award-winning drama Jan Palach [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and the Czech horror flick Ghoul [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, will be behind the camera, while the director noted that the tale of Martin and Alena reflects the story of a city (the film will mostly be shot on location in Brno), adding: “The goal is to capture the atmosphere before it evaporates… The Martian Ships captures the state of Brno at a particular time.”

The Martian Ships is being produced by Silvie Michajlová and Ondřej Zima, of Czech production outfit Film Kolektiv, and co-produced by Czech Television and Norway’s Storm Films. The production was supported by the Czech Film Fund and the South Moravian Film Fund, and was presented at Czech Film Springboard (see the report). The domestic premiere is set for spring 2021, and the Czech theatrical release will be handled by Falcon. Negotiations are currently under way to determine the sales agent.

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