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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Slovakia

Czech project Highlight aims to tackle a sex-abuse scandal in all its complexity

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- Filmmaker Ondřej Provazník has conducted a great deal of research into how to provide authentic perspectives on this controversial subject

Czech project Highlight aims to tackle a sex-abuse scandal in all its complexity
Director Ondřej Provazník

Czech documentary filmmaker Ondřej Provazník, who co-wrote and co-directed the award-winning fiction feature Old-Timers [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Martin Dušek, Ondřej Provaz…
film profile
]
, is developing another fiction feature to follow it up with: the drama Highlight. After the topic of the injustice of the former communist regime and two seniors on a quest to mete out their own version of justice, Provazník will be addressing another hot topic in his upcoming work – the sexual abuse of minors. The director plans to approach the sensitive topic ambiguously and to offer different perspectives on the controversial subject, as some of the sexual contact between adults and minors was consensual.

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The writer-director spent years researching the topic, and he developed the script based on authentic and actual testimonials. The film’s 13-year-old protagonist, Karolína, sings in a renowned girls’ choir led by a charismatic thirtysomething choirmaster. She moves up the ladder from being an outsider to becoming the authoritative choirmaster’s pet in a meteoric rise that lands her a coveted spot for their US tour. The story then fast-forwards to 15 years later, when Karolína returns to the Czech Republic to testify against her former mentor, who has been accused of sexual abuse.

Provazník explained that the film will be divided into two parts, with the formalism attuned accordingly to each one. The first part, set in the early 1990s, will be animalistic, straightforward and non-judgemental – set in a major scale. The second part, which is shorter and unfolds in the 2000s, will be in a minor scale, bearing a more tragic character. Music will play a crucial role, as producer Jiří Konečný, of endorfilm, confirmed to Cineuropa. Sound designer Juraj Mravec, who worked on the critically acclaimed series The Crown, Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders, has boarded the coming-of-age drama, and will be ensuring the use of authentic and appropriate choral music to accompany the plot. The musical and sexual rapture will go hand in hand, according to the creators, in order to unmask the hypocrisies of society and highlight unresolved issues.

Highlight received the highest amount of money among the projects that secured support in the recent round of funding from the Czech Film Fund. The Czech producer confirmed to Cineuropa that production is expected to start in autumn 2022. Part of the film will be shot in North America, and the producers are currently looking for partners in Canada and the USA, while remaining open to other partners. Distribution rights are available for pre-sales.

Highlight is being produced by Czech production outfit endorfilm, and co-produced by Slovak company Punkchart Films and Czech Television. The Czech Film Fund and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund have both supported the project. The film does not yet have a sales agent attached.

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