The Painted Bird to compete at Venice Film Festival

16 August 2019

Czech Film

The Painted Bird to compete at Venice Film Festival

Czech Film

The Painted Bird to compete at Venice Film Festival

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Czech cinema is having a big time at the 76th Venice Film Festival – Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird was selected for the main competition Venezia 76. In addition, short animated Sh_t Happens will compete in Orizzonti, and Czech cinema will be also represented by the restored version of Gustav Machatý´s Ecstasy that will be screened as a pre-opening film.

Long-awaited feature The Painted Bird was selected for the Venezia 76, the main competition of the prestigious Venice Film Festival. The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund in both development and production stages (with EUR 992,308) and also in the film incentives programme, and was produced by Silver Screen (CZ) in co-production with Directory Films (UA), PubRes (SK), and Czech Television, Jaroslav Kučera, Innogy and Richard Kaucký.

The director of the project Václav Marhoul (Tobruk, 2008 and Smart Philip, 2003) based his film on the eponymous novel by Jerzy Kosiński and created a meticulous 35mm black and white evocation of wild, primitive Eastern Europe at the bloody close of World War II. The film follows the journey of The Boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. The old woman soon dies and the Boy is on his own, wandering through the country-side, from village to farmhouse. As he struggles for survival, The Boy suffers through extraordinary brutality meted out by the ignorant, superstitious peasants and he witnesses the terrifying violence of the efficient, ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German.

Czech cinema has another representative in the official programme of this year´s Venice Film Festival – animated short Sh_t Happens which will compete in Orizzonti section. The thirteen minutes long film is directed by Michaela Mihályi and David Štumpf, produced by BFILM.cz and co-produced by Bagan Films (FR), BFILM (SK) and FAMU (CZ). The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund with EUR 21,923 and is a loose adaptation of a well-known biblical story while transforming it into a contemporary ironic narrative about how the world sometimes works.

For pre-opening event of the festival was selected Ecstasy by Gustav Machatý which provoked, displaying nudity, at the 2nd Venice Film Festival in 1934. The film will be screened as the world premiere presentation of the digital restoration in 4K. The restoration was completed by the Czech National Film Archive thanks to the support of Milada Kučerová and Eduard Kučera and the collaboration of the Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary.

History of Czechoslovak films in the main competition at Venice FF

The Painted Bird is the first majority Czech representative in the main competition of Venice Film Festival after the 25 years long drought. In 1994, the last majority Czech contender for Golden Lion was Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin by Jiří Menzel. Despite this, Czechoslovakia had a strong tradition of representation at Venice in the past. Juraj Jakubisko’s Sitting on a Branch, Enjoying Myself (1989), The Feather Fairy (1985) and The Millennial Bee (1983) were selected for the main competition in the 1980s along with Jiří Menzel’s Cutting It Short (1981).

Between 1948 and 1968, ten majority Czech films were nominanted for Golden Lion: The Deserter and the Nomads (dir. Juraj Jakubisko, 1968), The Nun’s Night (dir. Karel Kachyňa, 1967), Loves of a Blonde (dir. Miloš Forman, 1965), The Golden Fern (dir. Jiří Weiss, 1963), The Day the Trees Will Bloom (dir. Václav Krška, 1961), The White Dove (dir. František Vláčil, 1960), Wolf Trap (dir. Jiří Weiss, 1958), From My Life (dir. Václav Krška, 1955), The Secret of Blood (dir. Martin Frič, 1953) and The Czech Year (dir. Jiří Trnka, 1948).

In 1947, two Czechoslovak films competed for Grand International Award: Tales by Čapek (Martin Frič) and The Strike by Karel Steklý. The Strike won the main prize in the competition of Orson Welles’ The Stranger or Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound.

In 1930s, Czechoslovak filmmakers were regularly invited to Venice. Thirteen Czechoslovak films were in the main competition between 1932 and 1938, at the beginning of the festival: The World Where One Goes Begging (dir. Miroslav Cikán, 1938), Virginity; A Philosophical History; The Guild of the Kutná Hora VIrgins (all three films dir. by Otakar Vávra), Batalion (dir. Miroslav Cikán, 1937), People on the Icberg (dir. Martin Frič, 1937), Marysa (dir. Josef Rovenský, 1936), Jánosik (dir. Martin Frič, 1936), Romance from the Tatra Mountains (dir. Josef Rovenský, 1934), And Life Goes On (dir. Václav Kubásek). Ecstasy (Gustav Machatý, 1934), The River (dir. Josef Rovenský, 1934), Zem spieva (dir. Karel Plicka, 1934) and In the Mountains, in the Valleys (dir. Karel Plicka, 1932).

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