Agnieszka Holland to shoot story of Czech martyr
by Viktor Palák
23/01/2012 - Renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland (pictured) will direct a three-episode miniseries based on the tragic death of student Jan Palach, who committed suicide by self-immolation in 1969 to protest against the so-called normalization, which came after Czechoslovakia was occupied by Soviet soldiers a year earlier.
Palach's story is one of the best-known from Czechoslovak history and his death remains a memento up to these days. The student set himself on fire on January 16 1969 and died three days later. The director has a direct personal attachment to the topic, as she was studying at FAMU at the times of the event. “In 1969 I was a student of the film school in Prague. Everything that the script covers, I was very much engaged in. Therefore, it is a very important story for me because of personal reasons as well,“ said Holland when asked about the project by Polish radio.
Polish-born Agnieszka Holland is currently based in the USA and has collaborated with HBO previously when she directed several episodes of Treme and The Wire. Her latest film, In Darkness, about Leopold Soha, a Pole who sheltered Jewish citizens during Nazi occupation of Poland, currently made the shortlist of films which will compete for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Holland has already been nominated for her best-known work Europa Europa (1990).
The miniseries will be based on a screenplay by Stepan Hulik, who has published a book on normalization in Barrandov Studios last year. Historian Peter Blazek, from The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, is to oversee the project. Shooting is due to start in the Czech republic in spring. HBO Central Europe produces.