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VENICE 2008 Venice Days / Czech Republic

A Country Teacher hits the Lido

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Bohdan Slamá’s third feature film, A Country Teacher [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bohdan Slama
film profile
]
, perceptibly moved audiences after its public screening tonight, earning a long applause and a standing ovation. The story about a gay, 30-something teacher from Prague (Pavel Liška) who exiles himself to the country and befriends a middle-aged mother (Zuzana Bydžovaská) and her teenage son is a sensitive and intelligent portrayal of three lonely people looking for a place in the world.

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Slamá says he was inspired to write the film after moving to and falling in love with the countryside six years ago, even shooting A Country Teacher in a neighbouring village. He developed the film as he usually does, first starting with the characters and then crafting a story in which they could all come together.

The director further admitted that the project initially came about from his desire to work with Bydžovaská, a restrained and enormously gifted actress. “She didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beauty of her talent and the beauty of her soul that guided me,” he said. Slamá had doubts about whether or work once again with Liška, who starred in his previous two films, or change actors “but in the end I knew he had to be the teacher. Both [Liška and Bydžovaská] act from the heart, which is the only way I know how to tell a story.”

When Venice Days Delegate General Fabio Ferzetti commented on the film’s powerful and classical style, Slamá countered: “I don’t know really know what the terms classical or modern mean. I would simply like to keep my feet on the ground and continue to make movies as intensely as I am able.”

Although A Country Teacher is often described as the third part to a trilogy begun with The Wild Bees and followed up in Something Like Happiness [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bohdan Slama
interview: Pavel Strnad
film profile
]
, Slamá says: “I make films about people looking for love. Everyone talks of a trilogy but probably my fourth film will also be on the same subject!”

The film was produced for €1.2m by Czech company Negativ, in co-production with Germany’s Pallas and France’s Why Not Productions. It was released domestically last winter, picking up nearly 200,000 admissions and numerous positive reviews. The film will be released in Slovakia in two weeks and in Poland later this autumn.

Like the other Venice Days film screened earlier today – Finnish title The Visitor [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, which also stars Liška – A Country Teacher is being handled internationally by Wild Bunch.

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