Czech Film Springboard 2016: A first step for domestic projects

08 May 2016

Czech Film Film Industry Czech Film Center

Czech Film Springboard 2016: A first step for domestic projects

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Finale Plzeň, a showcase of Czech domestic production, decided to attach a new initiative to the festival, following a revamp of its concept, the Czech Film Springboard co-organized by Czech Film Center. Round-table discussions followed the pitching session, allowing fi lmmakers to discuss their projects’ concepts and international potential, as well as production and exploitation strategy with industry professionals.

By Martin Kudláč
Czech Film Magazine Summer 2016

The annual gathering Finále Plzeň traditionally offers the crop of Czech production from previous year, a comprehensive summary and crashcoursein the domestic cinema. The festival has recently revamped the programming koncept to press its finger more tightly on the pulse of domestic production. The renewed festival thus tracks even recent premieres and minor international co-production painting a detailed portrait of the Czech film landscape and industry especially nowadays when the visibility of Czech production on the international circuit has risen as well as a new generation of talented fi lmmakers, a sort of renaissance moment in domestic cinema likened to a new wave. 

Besides programming, the festival’s industry side underwent a facelift with major novelty being a new initiative Czech Film Springboard co-organized by Czech Film Center attached to it rounding up previously unexposed projects at one stage. A pitching session succeeded with round table discussions where fi lmmakers had a chance to discuss the concept and international potential of their projects, production and exploitation strategy with a cohort of international experts and experienced industry professionals. The event serves also as a sneak-peek of promising films in the pipeline given the fact the most projects were at early phase of development. The quality of the story, its potential, film crew, fi nancial plan or script were the calling cards in curating the line-up for the inaugural edition of the Czech Film Springboard platform curated by Czech Film Center.

Emerging talents as well as up-and-coming  filmmakers visited the event among them Ondřej Hudeček who recently travelled the festival circuit with short fi lm Peacock netting several nominations and accolades including Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Direction at Park City at Sundance. Hudeček’s feature debut Bohemian Rhapsody revealed at Czech Film Springboard is going to be a follow-up to Peacock. Despite the main protagonist, enigmatic fi gure of Czech playwright Ladislav Stroupežnický, the director stressed out Bohemian Rhapsody will be different story, different genre and different form. The fi lm’s  producer Tomáš Hrubý of Czech outfi t nutprodukce called Bohemian Rhapsody a postmodern thriller “operating with historical facts loosely and with hyperbole” and Hudeček added the fi lm will be utopian dream about dystopian society but also a story about telling stories and how they infl uence a life in certain period. The project is in early stage of development and fi lmmakers intend to take the script to a screenwriting lab, possibly at Sundance or Torino expecting the production in 2018.

Another young filmmaker of Slovenian origin, Olmo Omerzu, has debuted with feature-length film Family Film starring Karel Roden last year and is already bracing up for sophomore film, Jackdaws On the Road. Written by Petr Pýcha, the road comedy follows two twelve year old boys and their suddenly acquired sense of freedom on the run in a stolen car. According to the director, the film is supposed to be fl uid genre-wise kicking off as a comedy and slowly transitioning into another genre. With the principal photography set for this summer, the fi nal cut is expected to be ready in the first half of the next year. Although Jackdaws On the Road features child protagonist, it does not target specific audience segment and “it won’t be a kids fi lm,” concluded Omerzu.

Young Slovak director Tereza Nvotová is currently shooting her graduate fi lm Filthy doubling as her feature debut which was also brought to the fore at the new platform. Nvotová tackles the issue of rape and what happens when victim tries to repress the act and avoid the perpetrator. Miloš Lochman, the film producer of Czech production company moloko fi lm, explained Filthy will be intimate psychological drama while the rape won’t be the centrefold and not the main reason for the film’s inception. “It’s another obstacle in life”, he adds. His colleague and Slovak co-producer Peter Badač from BFILM elaborates that the filmmaker “looks  at other aspects of young girls’ lives – their first love, first sexual experience, nightlife and relationship with their parents.” The rough cut is expected to be ready in October with the filmmakers eyeing Berlinale for world premiere.

Tomáš Klein and Tomáš Merta are readying collaborative feature debut Where is My Home, a loose adaption of the namesake autobiografy about professional deceiver Zdeněk Perský who crafted his own myth in order to escape from prison. “He is an inspirational person despite his criminal past” says the co-director Tomáš Klein who along his colleague Tomáš Merta represented Czech Republic in Cannes’ sidebar Cinéfondation with short fi lm Retriever last year. Klein calls the film “a monodrama about a warrior using words instead of swords”. The real-life fi gure and the film’s inspiration Zděnek Pruský is expected to play himself while the directors plan to work with real people in authentic environments eyeing 2018 for the principal photography.

Czech Film Springboard welcomed also experienced filmmaker Bohdan Sláma, the director of The Village Teacher or Four Suns, currently shooting Ice Mother which was already picked by Match Factory at Berlinale Market and simultaneously developing his next project. Scars, a book adaptation packing an award for best unrealized script, is a family drama about uncanny family reunion. The fi lm’s producer Viktor Tauš of Fog’n’ Desire production outfi t called the film a coming-of-age film and the first time Sláma won’t be directing his own script. 

Czech Republic is equally active in co-producing various projects most notably from the Visegrad region. Such is the case on the feature debut By A Sharp Knife of budding Slovak director Teodor Kuhn produced by nutprodukcia, the Slovak branch of Czech outfit nutprodukce is a thriller about impotent justice system and the corrosive power of corruption from the perspective of a father whose son was murdered and the culprits set free. Jakub Viktorin, the fi lm’s producer called the drama with crime elements based on real events, “a film for cinemas”. Next project at Czech Film Springboard came from Hungary, an ecological fairy tale Maze-in-Lake written and directed by Csaba Bollók. The director himself calls his upcoming feature outing “a fairy tale from the end of times” and intends to shot the dystopian petting on location without the use of CGI. Bollók confessed his aim to use naturalistic approach shooting the fi lm “however it won’t be a depressive story” adding in the same breath.

Despite the number of projects stemming from Visegrad region, it does not represent a comfort zone for Czech co-producing activities. Czech Republic participates on a variety of projects from a range of diverse countries as Romania, Iran, France, USA, UK, Germany or Slovenia. From Slovenia comes the last project in this year’s Czech Film Springboard’s line-up, Wake by Matjaž Ivanišin, a drama about a man contemplating his brother’s death and life in a series of vivid memories. “We are trying to build a non-narrative fi lm because this nostalgia has no narrative,” said the producer Miha Černec of Staragara revealing the fi lm’s unconventional form. Czech outfi t i/o post stepped in as the co-producer because of the use of laboratories since Wake will be shot on 16mm.

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