email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Slovakia / Poland / Romania

Radim Špaček’s Forest Killer unravels a murderous mind

by 

- The Czech true-crime streak continues with a drama that follows a man who won Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and killed three innocent people unprovoked the following year

Radim Špaček’s Forest Killer unravels a murderous mind
Forest Killer by Radim Špaček (© Vernes)

The wave of true-crime dramas in the Czech Republic shows no sign of abating. Following the local premiere of Mr. and Mrs. Stodola [+see also:
film review
interview: Petr Hátle
film profile
]
, audiences will soon be treated to another home-grown true-crime film, Forest Killer. This latest entry is being directed by Radim Špaček, renowned for the celebrated drama Walking Too Fast [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Radim Spacek
film profile
]
, and delves into a year in the life of Czech serial killer Viktor Kalivoda. The screenplay was penned by Zdeněk Holý, a former dean of FAMU and the producer of the film through his company, Vernes, which is staging it alongside Jana Brožková.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)
my-sextortion-diary_Seattle_ringo

Kalivoda remains a perplexing figure. His most public appearance came when he participated in the Czech version of the television show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, winning approximately €23,500. In a shocking turn of events, the following year, 2005, he murdered three people in a forest. Kalivoda, who had an IQ of 130, never disclosed his motive for the killings and ultimately took his own life in prison.

Despite his intelligence, Kalivoda was marked by an apparent lack of empathy, emotional detachment and self-centredness, yet he was not diagnosed with any significant mental disorder that could elucidate his heinous acts. He was fascinated by the fate of Olga Hepnarová, the focus of the feature-length debut I, Olga Hepnarová [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: Tomáš Weinreb, Petr Kazda
film profile
]
by Tomáš Weinreb and Petr Kazda. Kalivoda’s case, which ignited debates over the regulation of gun licences in the Czech Republic, has been reimagined by Holý and Špaček as a “killing road movie” via a minimalistic crime-drama approach. The narrative encapsulates the protagonist's journey from an aborted suicide attempt on a viaduct to his eventual suicide in prison, tracing Kalivoda's path from his quiz-show victory to the systematic erosion of his moral boundaries, culminating in the three murders.

“The character will thus become a screen on which the audience can project their own fears, anxieties and evil motivations. We strongly believe that without making an effort to achieve some degree of understanding, the phenomenon of lone shooters that has plagued the West in the past few decades will not go away,” note the producers. The film aims to reveal previously unpublicised details and facts about the case.

Michal Balcar (Jan Palach [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) leads the cast as the eponymous killer, with Jaroslav Mendel, Tomáš Drápela, Marie Turková, Andrei Toader, Eliška Bašusová, Martin Janouš, Eliza Roth, Lukáš Venclík, Martin Davídek and Jiří Král also on board. Romanian cinematographer Oleg Mutu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Cristian Mungiu
interview: Oleg Mutu
film profile
]
) lensed the film, with Jarosław Kamiński (Ida [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile
]
) carrying out editing duties. “When I saw the movie for the umpteenth time, I realised that it also expresses a certain powerlessness of ours. How is it possible that [this can be a] person who looks completely normal, just like one of us, so that if we met him on the street, we wouldn’t even notice him, or we would smile and greet him? For me, it's about precisely that desperate misunderstanding and, actually, the impossibility of understanding,” says Špaček. “Twelve years have passed between that initial idea and today. It's not a classic dramatic film where the characters interact in a way that reveals their motivations or their inner selves, but rather, it's an observational movie. So, we leave space for the viewer's own opinion,” adds Holý. The premiere screenings across the Czech Republic are planned to include discussions with the creative team, renowned psychologists and the actual investigators involved in the case.

Forest Killer is being produced by Vernes (Czech Republic), and co-produced by Czech Television, BFILM (Slovakia), Kijora Film (Poland) and Avanpost Media (Romania). The film has been supported by the Czech Film Fund, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Prague Audiovisual Fund and the Polish Film Institute. Vernes handles the Czech theatrical release, with Forum Film covering the Slovak territory. The premiere in both countries is set for 25 April. The movie will have its world premiere at Brazil’s Fantaspoa, the International Fantastic Film Festival of Porto Alegre, which starts on 11 April.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy