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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic / Poland

Folk horror film Leshy, based on a Slavic myth, is in the making in Slovakia

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- The film is part of a feature anthology trilogy project called Different, an international co-production inspired by mythical creatures

Folk horror film Leshy, based on a Slavic myth, is in the making in Slovakia
A promotional image for Leshy

Besides political thrillers, another current trend in Slovakian cinema is folk horror. Peter Czikrai’s feature debut Mother of the Night is in development (read the news), while another horror film based on local folklore is in the works. Billed as “a horror fairy tale for adults,” Leshy is set to become the feature directing debut from Lukáš Hanulák. A co-writer on Tomáš Krupa’s documentary The Good Death [+see also:
trailer
interview: Tomáš Krupa
film profile
]
, Hanulák also directed a slew of episodes for television, for series including Lady and the King, Specialists and Widow. The story of Leshy is based on a figure from Slavic mythology, a lord of the forest familiar from Slovakian, Czech, Polish, Russian and Croatian folklore. “This story can be narrated as a romanticised magical drama, which would be more faithful to our local tradition, but horror suits the tale better,” states Slovakian scriptwriter Miro Šifra (co-writer on The Red Captain [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and writer of the miniseries Redl, directed by Jan Hřebejk) in the project’s author notes.

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Leshy will be a feature-length adaptation of a Czech short film of the same name, written by Petr Koubek, directed by Pavel Soukup and produced by Jakub Košťál. The short was nominated for the Cena Magnesia best student film award in the Czech Republic, travelled the festival circuit and was then bought by HBO Europe. The feature version is part of larger feature film series called Different, inspired by Slavic mythology and covering Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland, with each project being attached to a different creative team from each particular country. Zuzana Mistríková and Ľubica Orechovská, of Slovakian production company PubRes (who co-produced The Painted Bird [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Václav Marhoul
film profile
]
, currently shortlisted for the International Feature Film Oscar – read the news), are producing via their production arm Raketa, founded for international television and genre projects, while Czech company Bionaut Films serves as co-producer.

Soukup and Koubek, director and scriptwriter of the original short film, are working on another entry in the trilogy under the title The Wild Hunt, produced by Czech company Bionaut Films. The story revolves around a starving village that sacrifices a newborn to a supernatural entity in order to secure wealth. The Polish film, dedicated to the figure of the Vodianoi (a male water spirit), is written by Mateusz Pacewicz, set to be directed by Piotr Zlotorowicz, and produced by Jan Komasa via Polish production company Kosmonaut. The Wild Hunt is scheduled to be released domestically in 2021, the same year that Leshy is expected to be completed.

“The key to the anthology are the creatures,” revealed Petr Koubek on Czech radio Wave, adding that he wants to show the creatures’ inner struggles, what it means to be the darkness and to own the darkness within them, while each film will go further into the past. He also said that The Wild Hunt, Leshy and Vodianoi are pilot projects for the series Different and are meant to tease cinema audiences in their respective countries and to attract viewers to the entire series of 10 episodes, including feature films.

Watch the full version of the original short film Leshy here.

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