19 June 2023
Following the June meeting of the Council, 12 feature films and 8 documentaries received support for their full development. The Council was pleased to note that six of the supported feature film projects and eight of the supported documentary projects were by female auteurs. Another interesting fact is that four of the supported feature film projects will be directed by filmmakers who originally came from the documentary field.
In this call, Czech Film Fund's Council evaluated 36 applications for support of the complete development of feature films. In allocating support, the Council sought to cover the widest possible range of genres and themes in terms of the target groups addressed. The supported projects include adaptations of literary works, topical contemporary dramas, fairy tales, biopics, and original comedies.
LUMINAR Film has submitted the project Mr. Theodor Mundstock (Pan Theodor Mundstock) – an adaptation of the famous literary work of the same name – directed by acclaimed Slovak director, Martin Šulík (The Man with Hare Ears, The Interpreter). Film adaptations of Ladislav Fuks's books are an extremely demanding discipline, yet apart from the iconic Juraj Herz's The Cremator, several have been made in Poland and Hungary. The most famous Fuks's novel, Mr. Theodor Mundstock, awaits an updated film version in the Czech environment. The literary method used in the novel closely parallels the "magical-realist" cinematic approach of Martin Šulík, and this combination seems unique and desirable to the Council, which is one of the main reasons for its decision to support the project with EUR 36,000.
Documentary filmmaker Mária Pinčíková has chosen a very ambitious subject for her debut feature Screams with No Echo. The basis of the project, developed by Cinémotif Films, is an original idea: to focus on physical education as a propaganda tool and to show history through sports clubs. The author managed to create a microcosm of a small town on the Czech-Slovak border, inhabited by Slovaks, Czechs, Hungarians and Jews. In addition to the main theme of propaganda manipulation, the project contains other significant motifs concerning morality, religion, national identity, historical memory of the nation – but also superstition, legends, and myths as precursors of today's hoaxes. The project received full support of EUR 28,000.
The project Exposed from nutprodukce is based on the narrative and photographs of Libuše Jarcovjáková, a representative of the underground scene. The directors, originally documentarists, Klára Tasovská and Lukáš Kokeš (Nothing Like Before), who are now finishing a documentary about Jarcovjáková titled I'm Not Everything I Want to Be, set the story in the environment of the queer community in socialist Czechoslovakia. A young photographer unknowingly takes picture of what she perceives as evidence of a murder in a semi-illegal LGBTQ+ club. Through the story, built on a simple one-day plot, we have the opportunity to look into the period of normalisation from an unexpected perspective. The project was supported with EUR 30,000.
Sirius Films' historical project PANNA SOFIA was submitted for second time. Compared to the previous version, the screenwriters Václav Kadrnka (Little Crusader, Saving One Who Was Dead) and Lenka Horňáková Civade present a more precise and much clearer idea of the future film, focusing on the formation of Comenius' system of thought. Václav Kadrnka is undoubtedly one of the unique creators of the spiritual film genre in Czech cinema, with a sophisticated symbolist visuality, which he intends to apply to his new project too. The Council has decided to support the project with EUR 36,000.
Marina Films' project Labor Office (Úřad práce) deals with the functioning of labor offices and the system of state support and assistance for people in material need. Director Adéla Komrzý (Art Talent Show, Intensive Life Unit), one of today's most acclaimed young documentary filmmakers, presents this topical and socially sensitive issue through a mosaic of human fates in a hybrid film that oscillates between documentary and fiction. The central theme is viewed from an original and unexpected angle – from the perspective of an overburdened employee of the material needs department. The subject of the film is not only original, but also highly topical and socially important. The project was supported with EUR 20,000.
Cineart TV Prague presents the existential comedy drama Privilege of a Rabbit (Privilegium králíka). This dystopian vision by Mira Fornay (Cook F**k Kill) reacts to current pressing issues related to the crisis phenomena of contemporary society. The main motif is the transformation of reproductive strategies and the social status of childless people, which are brought to absurd and caricatured shapes. The concept has a surprising metaphorical power and the capacity to become a distinctive cinematic work, defining itself against many prevailing stereotypes. The material has the potential to impress domestic and international (not only festival) audiences. The project was supported with EUR 26,000.
Punk Film's project Antonie Antonová will be the second feature film by documentary filmmaker Rozálie Kohoutová about people from the margins of society. Soňa is a professional pole dancer. Anton is a non-professional weed dealer. They love each other, they cheat on each other, they take drugs, they hate each other but they would never leave each other. The story is authentic and addresses current issues such as the division of gender roles in childcare, life in excluded localities, racism, poverty. The Council appreciates the perfect portrayal of the characters and the environment of the housing estate as well as the observational narrative that offers an interesting visual rendition to the film, and supported the project with EUR 32,000.
The Xova Film project First Dates (První schůzky) by screenwriter and director Šimon Holý was supported for the development of the first version of the script. The Council was impressed by the unconventional dramatic structure of the film, which follows 10 years in the life of the main character through a series of her first dates with different men. Aiming at the romantic comedy genre, the film still has minor flaws in the portrayal of the characters, their motives, and relationships. Nevertheless, the Council sees its potential for full development and has decided to support the project with EUR 20,000.
The Bratři production company presented its project Holiday in the Bohemian Paradise (Dovolená v Českém ráji), the second feature-length comedy by Adam Koloman Rybanský (Somewhere Over the Chemtrails) set in the environment of the popular and photogenic holiday region of Bohemian Paradise and its campsites. The author follows his proven concept of combining banality with exaggeration and social observations, which can be seen as a contemporary variation on the films of Forman and Papoušek. The narrative is concentrated around the holiday of a young family, which is at the same time a test of the relationship of the two parents. The Council decided to support the project with EUR 32,000.
In the project of Breathless Films titled Jája by Robin Kvapil, the Council highly appreciated the creative intention to build on the strong tradition of original Czech fairy tales for the whole family and to use the unique imaginative potential of Miloš Macourek's fairy tale designs – without using any digital special effects. The producer and the creative team are aware of the high demands of the original concept and the Council believes that the team's commitment and the planned participation in international development platforms will help the filmmakers to successfully develop the script and find suitable international co-producers for the realization. The project received the support of EUR 30,000.
8Heads Productions has submitted the mystical coming-of-age drama project Like Air directed by Elvira Dulskaia for development support repeatedly and in an altered form. A young woman, returning to the village where she was born, starts recalling memories of a long-forgotten past. Before she knows it, she is pulled into a mystical ritual involving not only her childhood friend, but also other dangerous powers. Like Air will participate in international pitching forums and script labs, exploring reconciliation with a traumatic past, a universal theme particularly resonant for a generation facing global events like a pandemic and the war in Europe. The project received EUR 30,000.
The project Hotel Záhoří, developed by Stairway Films and directed by Jan Švejkar, is a period drama with elements of crime and melodrama set in the mid-1930s. It is based on real historical events, but aims to build on an attractive visual narrative, a specific atmosphere, and a concentration on the relatively closed space of a hotel and a few characters. The whole story is narrated as a flashback starting with the murder. As an interesting genre piece, the project has the potential to appeal to a mainstream audience. The development support was granted at the requested level of EUR 32,000.
The latest call for the support of complete development of documentary film generated 15 applications with the total financial requirement of EUR 280,000, while the allocation was set at 170,000 EUR. The majority of projects focused on broader spectrum of current societal issues: from the legalisation of cannabis to the treatment of and living with Alzheimer patients, the issue of transgender athletes in elite athletics, the controversial ecological method of controlled fire to eating disorders. A third of the applications are directorial debuts of their makers. The Council decided to support 8 projects, three of them with slightly reduced amount.
Cinémotif Films presented the project My Other, Great Self (Moje druhé skvělé já) written and directed by Veronika Lišková
(The Visitors, Daniel's World), dealing with a topic that has not yet been explored but is highly topical: eating disorders. The main protagonist, who suffers from this disorder herself, is also the co-organizer of a program for similarly affected people. The stories of the participants, of both sexes, break the existing stereotypes of these disorders (including anorexia and bulimia) as "model diseases". The Council recognized the quality of the background material, the creative intent of the project and its benefit to society. The project was supported in the full amount requested – EUR 20,000.
Negativ's project Heavy Mental brings to light the personality and work of one of the most famous domestic contemporary artists, sculptor, and conceptualist Krištof Kintera who is known for his broad vision and humor, which he uses to break social stereotypes, as well as for his attack on the essence of art, i.e. immortality. The approach of the director Šimon Šafránek (King Skate, Meky) who is one of the most experienced Czech filmmakers in this genre is quite in line with the nature of Kintera's work. The Council appreciates that he doesn't intent to make a classic film portrait but a varied, multilayered, and dynamic visual collage. The project was supported with EUR 18,000.
The project of Gamma Pictures Clinical Ten (Klinická desítka) by director Jindřich Andrš appears in the call for complete development for the second time. The forthcoming film focuses on the environment of future doctors and deals with issues such as what is it like to study medicine, what general ethical issues doctors face, how difficult it is to cope with stress in this profession, how to combine family and work life, etc. The Council felt that the project had developed positively since the last submission, benefiting from a narrower focus on a smaller number of protagonists, and decided to support the project at the full amount requested – EUR 20,800.
NOW Productions' upcoming feature-length documentary project, Let's Light It Before It Burns (Zapalme, než to shoří), directed by Markéta Ekrt Válková, focuses on the issue of nature conservation from a very unusual angle – exploring the controversial practice of controlled burns in the wild. The project deals with a very topical issue that is part of the ecological debate, and the need to address it was heightened by last year's fire in the Czech-Saxon Switzerland National Park. The project, which undoubtedly has the potential to resonate abroad too, was supported with EUR 20,000.
MasterFilm's The Last Mile (Poslední mile) is a time-lapse project with potentially great social impact. The development of a remedy for Alzheimer's disease is expected to be completed within three years, and director Bibiana Beňová's intention is to capture this process in her film. Clinical trials on volunteers are already underway, but only time will tell how successful they will be. The main protagonist is the Czech-American neurologist Martin Tolar, who, together with his company Alzheon, is leading this final stage of testing. The Council has supported the project with the total amount requested, EUR 18,000.
FAMU debutants Lumír Košař and David Ticháček, through Claw AV, have presented an original and visually appealing project entitled Thieves of Ashes (Zloději popela), which focuses on the relationships within an international group of young people participating in a morel mushroom picking expedition in the Canadian wilderness. The project promises to be an exciting dramatic exploration of the different attitudes of young people from around the world. The Council has decided to support the project with the requested EUR 20,000.
Daniel Severa Production's project Unfair Play is a documentary concept based on a highly topical discussion about the role of gender in the history of sport. The thematic framework is formed by following three specific controversial cases against the backdrop of the International Association of Athletics Federations and the changing public discourse. The project, to be directed by Jan Chramosta, is notable for its open-mindedness, its non-bullying look at centuries of history with international overlaps, its expert insight, and empathetic approach. The Council decided to fully fund the project with EUR 18,800.
D1film's project Scent Trail (Pachová stopa) by Zuzana Piussi (The Unbalanced) looks at law enforcement in the Czech Republic from an unusual angle: through a scent trail and the "expertise" of a police dog. This method has long been accepted uncritically, although research in recent years has shown that it is also subject to significant bias due to the communication between the handler and the dog. The Council understands that this is a project with an extremely important social theme that ultimately belongs on the big screen and at festivals. However, it recommends the filmmakers not to neglect the formal and visual aspect of the film in order to avoid slipping into the genre of local television journalism. The project was supported with EUR 16,000.