REPORT: Czech Works in Progress @ Febiofest Prague Industry Days 2020
- Upcoming films from emerging and established Czech directors have been presented as part of the digital Czech Works in Progress initiative at Febiofest Prague
As the original 27th edition of the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest had to be postponed as a preventive measure in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, its Czech Works in Progress industry programme was shifted online and became a digital initiative. More than 50 festival programmers and curators, sales agents and other film professionals received the screeners of the new batch of titles. “The selection offers an outstanding mixture of acclaimed directors and major new talents. Their humorous and superlative creative approach combines well-crafted storytelling with a surprising visual atmosphere. Although we are deeply regretful that we cannot invite the creators onto the stage, we believe we will bring you the finest moments you will have during your quarantine,” said Miriam Ryndová from the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest. Below is an overview of the projects presented.
Erhart – Jan Březina (Czech Republic/Slovakia)
The young generation of Czech filmmakers was represented by producer Marek Slovák, who shepherds emerging talents into the world of feature filmmaking under the umbrella of his production outfit, Xova Film. After an experimental documentary following an (in)famous Slovakian amateur stomatologist and grave robber returning the stolen dentures of Strauss and Brahms, Vienna Calling [+see also:
film profile], Slovák has several promising feature debuts on his slate, including Jan Březina’s psychological arthouse drama Erhart, loosely inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s play John Gabriel Borkman. Březina, who studied under the guidance of Věra Chytilová, tackles the hot topics of his generation: the legacy of the Velvet Revolution and the fallout from the unbridled privatisation in the Czech Republic in the 1990s – or, more precisely, the changes that the invisible hand of capitalism forced on the country’s society. Slovák expects to have the psychological coming-of-age drama, which is being co-produced by another Czech company, IS Produkce, finished by June-July 2020. The Czech Film Fund and Zlín Film Fund have supported the project. The producer is currently looking for a sales agent.
Unbalanced – Zuzana Piussi (Czech Republic/Slovakia)
Mental illness and emotional instability play a major role in the debut feature-length fiction film by veteran Slovakian documentarian Zuzana Piussi, Unbalanced. Piussi shifts from her usual socio-political topics to a social tragicomedy following the hardships of a middle-aged single mother as she tumbles into a spiral of neuroses. The Czech Film Fund and Slovak Audiovisual Fund have supported Piussi’s first fiction venture, which is being produced by D1Film, co-founded by Piussi and Vít Janeček, and Slovakian outfits VIRUSfilm and Ultrafilm. October 2021 is being eyed as the completion date, while Janeček confirmed that they are looking for another co-producer outside of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Read more about the project here.
Two Ships – Jan Foukal (Czech Republic/Norway)
Czech documentary filmmaker Jan Foukal is also readying his first fiction offering, Two Ships (formerly known as The Martian Ships), produced by Silvie Michajlova and Ondřej Zima, of production platform Film Kolektiv, and co-produced by Czech Television and Norwegian outfit Storm Films. The film, billed as a romantic drama, follows a relationship from its inception to its abrupt end, when the protagonist’s girlfriend can no longer live with her stomach pain, which appears to be of psychosomatic origin. The final shooting phase took place in Norway in January, and the producers are expecting to have the film ready by July 2020, with a domestic premiere set preliminarily for spring 2021. Read more about the project here.
Lost in Paradise – Fiona Ziegler (Czech Republic/Switzerland)
Czech-based Swiss filmmaker Fiona Ziegler, a FAMU graduate, is working on her debut feature, Lost in Paradise. Ziegler’s absurd comedy road movie is the first-ever Czech-Swiss co-produced project, and is being shot in Prague and Bern. The story is described as revolving around the clash between two worlds. Lost in Paradise is being produced by Czech outfit Cinémotif Films and Swiss company Cognito Films, and is being co-produced by FAMU. The Czech Film Fund, Prague Film Fund, Pro Cinema Berne and Zürcher Filmstiftung have supported the project. The film is currently in the editing room, and the final cut is expected to be finished in summer 2020. Read more about the project here.
Mistakes – Jan Prušinovský (Czech Republic)
Mistakes marks the first foray by Jan Prušinovský, the director of the acclaimed drama The Snake Brothers [+see also:
interview: Jan Prušinovský
film profile], into romance and will also be his first feature film to centre on a female protagonist. The movie revolves around Ema and her budding romance with a roofer called Tomáš. According to the director, “A random episode lifts the lid on Ema’s past and triggers a series of incidents that turn their lives upside down”. Prušinovský’s close collaborator Ondřej Zima is producing the chamber drama for their own production company, OFFSIDE MEN, while Czech Television and Slovakian outfit PubRes are acting as co-producers. The film is expected to be ready in June 2020. Read more about the project here.
Shadow Country [+see also:
film profile] – Bohdan Sláma (Czech Republic)
Established filmmaker Bohdan Sláma, the director of Ice Mother [+see also:
film profile], has finished the World War II drama Shadow Country, a project that has been eight years in the making. Ivan Arsenjev penned the script, which is a chronicle of a village and its residents during the events of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The film was shot in black and white, and on celluloid. Jindřich Motýl is producing the project for Luminar Film, with Czech Television and Slovak company Filmpark attached as co-producers. The date of completion was March 2020. Read more about the project here.
The Man with Hare Ears – Martin Šulík (Czech Republic/Slovakia)
Martin Šulík has finished shooting his latest project, The Man with Hare Ears. Šulík’s new comedy follows an ageing writer called Josef, whose best friend tries to commit suicide; also, his young girlfriend Katka tells him she’s pregnant, and the man with hare ears – his alter ego from one of his stories – appears before him in everyday situations. The director is producing the feature with Rudolf Biermann, of IN Film Praha, as a Czech and Slovak co-production involving Czech Television, Šulík’s own company, Titanic, and Radio and Television Slovakia. The producers managed to put together a strong cast led by revered Czech actor-director Miroslav Krobot, who is joined by the European Actress of 2017, Alexandra Borbély, from the Golden Bear-winning On Body and Soul [+see also:
interview: Ildiko Enyedi
interview: Ildiko Enyedi
interview: Réka Tenki
film profile]. The film is currently in post-production and does not yet have a sales agent attached. Read more about the project here.
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