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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic / Ukraine

Censor by Peter Kerekes nearing completion

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- The established Slovakian documentary filmmaker and producer is working on his eagerly awaited feature-length fiction debut

Censor by Peter Kerekes nearing completion
Censor by Peter Kerekes

Renowned Slovakian documentarian and producer Peter Kerekes is joining the ranks of his colleagues who have traded the documentary format for fiction filmmaking – like, for example, Zuzana Piussi, who is working on her feature-length fiction debut, Unbalanced (see the news), or Marek Kuboš, who is readying Secret (see the news). Originally, the docu-drama Censor (formerly known as Censors) was conceived as a triptych co-written by the filmmaker and producer Ivan Ostrochovský, who most recently unveiled his sophomore fiction feature, Servants [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ivan Ostrochovský
film profile
]
, much like their award-winning anthology documentary Velvet Terrorists [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.

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However, over the course of pre-production, the first chapter, following a female censor in Odessa prison, became the central and sole focus of the film. Image censorship in Saudi Arabia and cinema censorship based on practices in Nollywood were initially intended to follow this, as reported during Febiofest Slovakia 2016 (read the report).

During the preparation phase, the filmmakers visited several Ukrainian prisons and met with 18 censors. The project then transformed over the course of its preparation. The current official synopsis of Censor reads: “Lyesa is a young woman who killed her husband in a fit of jealous rage. Six stab wounds resulted in a seven-year sentence served at prison number 14 in Odessa. Her pregnancy is seen as a mitigating circumstance. During Lyesa’s time in jail, she is monitored by Irina, a lonely older operational officer without a husband or a family – Lyesa’s polar opposite. In prison, Lyesa gives birth to a son, Kolya. Shortly before his third birthday, she’s hoping to get out on probation for good behaviour. When her request is turned down, Lyesa starts a race against time to contact her family and even the mother of her murdered husband, desperately trying to keep Kolya from ending up in an orphanage.”

The director considered the films of Ulrich Seidl and recent projects by Nino Kirtadze as references for his work. Kerekes confirmed to Cineuropa that the film crew returned from Ukraine shortly before Slovakia’s state of lockdown began, after doing some additional shooting. He also noted that they are eyeing autumn 2020 as the film’s release date.

Censor is being produced by Ivan Ostrochovský, of Slovakia’s Punkchart Films, and co-produced by Czech outfit endorfilm, Ukrainian company Arthouse Traffic, Slovakian firms Peter Kerekes Film and E-S Production, and Radio and Television Slovakia. The Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Czech Film Fund supported the movie, while the project received Eurimages funding and support from the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic and the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.

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