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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic / Slovakia

Václav Kadrnka finishes shooting Saving One Who Was Dead

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- After his award-winning debut, Eighty Letters, and the critically acclaimed Little Crusader, the Czech auteur is finishing the final instalment in his “Absence of a Loved One” trilogy

Václav Kadrnka finishes shooting Saving One Who Was Dead
Director Václav Kadrnka on the set of Saving One Who Was Dead (© Sirius Film)

Czech writer-director-producer Václav Kadrnka, who won the Crystal Globe Award at Karlovy Vary for his sophomore feature, Little Crusader [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Václav Kadrnka
film profile
]
, in 2017, is just one of the many domestic filmmakers whose latest productions have been disrupted by the lockdown measures. Kadrnka was shooting his third feature-length project, Saving One Who Was Dead, when the production had to be put on hold after the coronavirus outbreak, having shot one-third of the material. As the Czech Republic lifted the strict preventive measures and enabled film productions to restart while adhering to self-regulatory recommendations as a form of protection against COVID-19 (see the news), Kadrnka returned to the set to film the remaining material, with the crew wrapping the shoot on 24 May.

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Shooting is taking place in a former hospital which is due to be demolished (the director also intends to shoot the demolition for use in the film), and a doctor will be on set, taking temperatures and carrying out tests. Kadrnka’s latest project has been called a semi-autobiographical intimate family drama based on the director’s diaries written during summer and autumn 2016, when his father suffered a haemorrhagic stroke. The chamber drama follows an adult son and his mother taking care of the comatose father. Saving One Who Was Dead will round off the director’s “Absence of a Loved One” trilogy, which includes his award-winning sophomore feature, Little Crusader, as well as his feature-length debut, Eighty Letters, which firmly put him on the map of the Czech Republic’s rising innovative filmmakers.

Kadrnka has developed a signature style and works with a film language that remains close to the poetics of so-called “slow cinema”. However, he has confirmed to online news outlet novinky.cz (read the article here) that Saving One Who Was Dead will be his “most dialogue- and actor-driven film” to date. Slovakian actress Zuzana Mauréry, of The Teacher [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jan Hřebejk
film profile
]
fame, stars in the main female role, while Czech thesp Vojtěch Dyk, who also stars in Petr Václav’s ambitious historical epic drama Il Boemo (see the news), has been cast in the main male role. Frequent Eugène Green collaborator and DoP Raphaël O'Byrne is lensing the film.

“As much as Saving One Who Was Dead revolves around serious illness and its consequences, the theme is not dying; on the contrary, it is about lifting the veil and resurrection. The film depicts a shared hope in which all of the main characters partake, each with his or her own ‘word’,” notes Kadrnka in the director’s notes. The film is being co-produced by Katarína Krnáčová, of Slovakian independent outfit Silverart, who says in the producer’s statement that the movie is “a simple story, but seen from a timeless, even metaphysical, perspective. The feature discusses a topic that concerns each and every one of us, even though our consciousness does not welcome the idea of non-existence. However, this film touches on the question of death with ease – even beauty, sincerity and spiritual meditation.”

Saving One Who Was Dead is being staged by Czech production outfit Sirius Film and co-produced by Slovakian company Silverart. The film has been supported by the Czech Film Fund, Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Czech Television. In 2018, the project received the HAF Award for a non-Hong Kongese project at the Asia Film Financing Forum in Hong Kong.

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