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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic

Federico Fellini to appear in Matej Mináč’s comedy road movie Never Give Up


- Based on Mináč’s own encounter with the Italian master of cinema, the film will feature authentic, never-before-seen footage with Fellini

Federico Fellini to appear in Matej Mináč’s comedy road movie Never Give Up
Director Matej Mináč

Slovakian filmmaker and producer Matej Mináč, who gained international renown through his award-winning films about Sir Nicholas Winton, All My Loved Ones, Nicky's Family and The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton, will be returning to his roots in his next project. Mináč started his film career with The Portrait of Director in 1989, a feature-length documentary portrait of Slovakian director Juraj Jakubisko, for which he conducted an interview with Federico Fellini. Mináč’s new film project, Never Give Up, will follow a young and hapless film director travelling to Italy to do an interview with the titan of world cinema. Based on Mináč’s own experiences, the project had originally been planned as a docudrama, but it has now taken the shape of a comical road movie.

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A young film director from communist Czechoslovakia gets to interview Federico Fellini in capitalist Italy in 1989. The director embarks on the journey with a film crew of seven. Jana Motyčková, of Slovakia’s Trigon Production, told Cineuropa that Never Give Up is “a humorous story about the hard life of filmmakers set against the backdrop of three ideologies – socialism, nationalism and early capitalism”. The film will feature “authentic, never-before-seen footage with Federico Fellini”, she adds. Mináč and the movie's producer, Patrik Pašš from Trigon, noted that the flick will follow in the vein of behind-the-scenes movies, such as Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night and Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending.

Motyčková told Cineuropa that the project is currently in the script-rewriting phase, and co-production negotiations are ongoing. Following the pandemic, the project’s schedule has been adjusted, and 2021 will be dedicated to closing co-production and partners, financing, location scouting, and coming up with creative and technological production solutions. The preparations for production are scheduled to unfold from February-April 2022, with two stages of principal photography on the cards: from May-June 2022 and from September-October 2022. The premiere is preliminarily set for autumn 2023 or spring 2024. Negotiations are currently ongoing for Czech and Italian co-production partners, while the producers are also looking for German co-producers and co-producers from VoD platforms, Motyčková revealed.

Never Give Up is being produced by Patrik Pašš, of Trigon, for Slovakia and co-produced by Matej Mináč’s Czech production outfit, WIP, for the Czech Republic as well as Radio and Television Slovakia. The project has been supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Czech Film Fund and Creative Europe – MEDIA. It was presented at the When East Meets West Trieste Co-Production Forum in 2014 and the Trieste International Film Festival in 2019. Continental Film will handle the theatrical release for the territory of Slovakia, while Bontonfilm will release the feature theatrically in the Czech Republic. The producers are in negotiations with potential sales agents.

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