“Burning Bush,” a drama set against the backdrop of the Prague Spring and subsequent Soviet crackdown, will debut on streaming platforms on the same day it opens theatrically.
The picture bows on June 11, 2014 and will play at New York City’s Film Forum, while also being made available on subscription site Fandor. It will be available for streaming nationwide on the film service, except in the New York metropolitan area while it completes its engagement at the Film Forum.
Kino Lorber nabbed rights to the film after it screened last year at the Telluride, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Directed by Oscar-nominee Agnieszka Holland (“Europa, Europa”), the sprawling, 234-minute film was praised by Variety reviewer Alissa Simon as “a taut, nuanced work.”
It was the Czech Republic’s official Academy Awards entry for the Best Foreign Film before being disqualified after it was broadcast as a three-part mini-series on HBO’s European channels. “Burning Bush” dramatizes Czech college student Jan Palach’s decision to commit suicide by setting himself on fire. His dramatic statement was in protest of Soviet efforts to suppress dissension in the Eastern European country during a turbulent period of the 1960s.
Fandor chief executive officer Ted Hope said he first saw the film in Telluride and its depiction of political unrest stayed with him as the Ukraine descended into crisis last winter and spring and the Russian Federation annexed Crimea.
“When political events occur, it spurs interest, and cinema has always been a great window into other cultures,” Hope said.
Fandor is a subscription streaming service that launched in 2011 offering a mixture of foreign films, indies and documentaries. Unlike other platforms, it splits subscription revenues with content rights holders. Hope, the former head of the San Francisco Film Society and the producer of “American Splendor,” joined the company in January of this year.
“What we want to do at Fandor is attract the audience for precisely this type of movie — one that is done with excellence and is entertaining, but is not mainstream,” Hope said.
Hope and Fandor Chief Content Officer Jonathan Marlow represented Fandor in the negotiations with Kino Lorber Chief Executive Officer Richard Lorber.