Adam Martinec dissects Czech identity in his feature debut, Slaughter
- The tragicomedy by the award-winning short-film director focuses on the vanishing tradition of domestic pig slaughter, as a way of exploring a range of societal and cultural themes
Adam Martinec, an emerging talented Czech filmmaker, is currently shooting his feature-length debut, Slaughter. Martinec has previously demonstrated his filmmaking chops through his short Sugar and Salt, which addressed the theme of mortality among middle-aged friends. The flick garnered critical acclaim and several award nominations. His subsequent short, Anatomy of a Czech Afternoon, a tragic story based on true events revolving around the accidental drowning of two boys, also received recognition and saw him continue his exploration of Czech identity. Slaughter will delve deeper into this topic and will double as Martinec's graduation project from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU).
Slaughter is set in the Osoblažsko region, a sparsely populated area in the former Sudetenland, reflecting Martinec's own roots in the Czech-Polish border region. The director, who also wrote the script, focuses on the vanishing tradition of domestic pig slaughter in order to explore a variety of societal and cultural themes. The film, described as a tragicomedy, delves into diverse human experiences and characteristics, brought to light during an annual family event at an old homestead. Martinec's directorial method incorporates both professional and non-professional actors, prioritising authenticity and spontaneity in their performances. This approach is influenced by notable figures such as Miloš Forman and the narrative style of Bohumil Hrabal, while also drawing inspiration from the Czechoslovak New Wave.
The story unfolds over a single day, focusing on the diverse personal struggles of a family, set against a rural backdrop. The protagonist is Karel, a widowed, self-styled general, for whom the annual pig slaughter has become a ritual of great significance. His authoritative manner, however, gradually alienates him from his nearest and dearest. The annual event is the only occasion that brings the entire family together for a day filled with fun, complaints, feasting and general enjoyment. As the day progresses, a series of both significant and more minor life dramas emerge. Unbeknownst to the others, the butcher is concealing the fact that his ammunition has been compromised by dampness. The grandfather spends the day fraught with anxiety, struggling with how to inform Karel that this year's slaughter will be their last. Meanwhile, Lucie grapples with a disintegrating marriage, Romana yearns for her absent mother, and Dušík searches for a genuine role model. The narrative reaches a pivotal moment when Karel accidentally spills all the pig's blood, casting doubt over the success of the slaughter.
Martinec’s feature debut presents a portrayal of rural life in the Czech Republic, seamlessly integrating everyday occurrences with deeper themes, as well as blending the mundane with the tragic, a style previously demonstrated by the director in his acclaimed shorts. Currently, the majority of filming is complete, with the remaining scenes scheduled for December 2023 and January 2024. David Hofmann, known for his work on Martinec's short films and Jan Prušinovský's comedy road movie Grand Prix, is lensing the picture. The cast features a mix of non-professional and professional actors, including Karel Martinec, Antonín Budínský, Albert Čuba (Somewhere Over the Chemtrails [+see also:
interview: Adam Koloman Rybanský
film profile]), Aleš Bilík (Little Crusader [+see also:
interview: Václav Kadrnka
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film profile]) and Karin Bilíková, among others. The film’s producer, Matěj Paclík, of Breathless Films, confirmed to Cineuropa that he is currently seeking a sales agent, international distribution, pre-sales (including streaming services) and festivals for the film's world premiere, anticipated for late spring or summer 2024. The Czech premiere is expected to follow in the autumn.
Martinec has been acknowledged for his ability to weave together authenticity, sincere humour and dramatic depth. The director’s poetics is exemplified by the script for Slaughter, which won an award in this year’s Czech competition for unproduced scripts held by the Czech Film Foundation, in the Stars of Tomorrow category.
Slaughter is being produced by Breathless Films (Czech Republic), and co-produced by FAMU, Czech Television and Innogy. The production of the film was supported by the Czech Film Fund and the Moravian-Silesian region.
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