There Is No Better Place to Loose Everything

09 September 2016

Czech Film

There Is No Better Place to Loose Everything

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Pustina (Wasteland), a new eight episodes drama series produced by HBO Europe will have its international premiere in the Primetime section at the Toronto IFF.

The series opens with an event that will have a life-changing effect on all the members of a close knit, multi-generational village community in Northern Bohemia. Just as the mayor of Pustina, Hana Sikorova, reaches the peak of her struggle against a large, foreign mining company that is eager to access the huge coal reserves that lie beneath the village, and is offering villagers attractive compensation in exchange for selling their homes, her fourteenyear old daughter Misha goes missing. As long-standing family relationships begin to disintegrate, Hana starts to doubt the integrity of every member of her community. Initially helpful in the desperate search for the missing Misa, the citizens of Pustina soon begin to reveal their true colors.

The screenplay for the series was written by Štěpán Hulík, writer of the acclaimed Burning Bush mini-series, another HBO Europe production directed by Agnieszka Holland that premiered internationaly at Toronto IFF. "Following Burning Bush, I realized together with my producers how much we are attracted to the possibility of creating our own world from the foundations up and in that world tell a completely original story. We tried to create Pustina as a place totally familiar to the viewer without being able to place it exactly. We met regularly for more than a year and together created the skeleton of the whole story. We asked ourselves: What excites us? What really interests us and what annoys us. What frightens us? And how to fi t it into Pustina. I cross-examined a few mayors of small villages to find out what their work is all about. We conducted long interviews with criminal investigators; we visited juvenile delinquency centers and talked to local caretakers and their wards to soak up the atmosphere," said Štěpán Hulík.

The directing credit is shared between Ivan Zachariáš and Alice Nellis, Štěpán Kučera and Matěj Cibulka are the cinematographers. Zachariáš, with his extraordinary sense of atmosphere and and unique visual style, was until now known as a director of commercials for top international brands and Wasteland is his feature directorial debut. Alice Nellis is an established Czech fi lm director with a string of successful titles that have been acclaimed by audiences, critics and festival juries alike. "We placed big emphasis on the visuals and I hope that as a result audiences will feel like they are watching a feature fi lm rather than a series. In parts it is very dark and emotionally charged, I believe that audiences will be completely absorbed by it. It’s a powerful story that, though it’s local, is nonetheless a universal story and could take place anywhere in the world. You can fi nd a godforsaken place like this anywhere," said Tereza Polachová, the producer of HBO Europe. The first two episodes of the series premiered during the summer at the Karlovy Vary IFF. Wasteland was supported with USD 737,000 in production incentives from the State Cinematography Fund.

"Certainly European television is in a 'golden age' – but I don’t think Pustina is a successor to anything, it is its own unique piece of storytelling! Brilliantly written, mysterious and profound with an amazing cast, world class production and exquisitely directed, Pustina is, I think, a new benchmark for European TV. It was a privilege to be involved in the show and has inspired me to help and and support more stories from the amazing talent that we are working with across the region," said Steve Matthews, HBO's executive producer.

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