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Havel Biopic Garners Director Czech Film Fund Support

Czech director-writer-producer Slávek Horák, who was chosen as one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch three years ago, has received 14.5 million Czech koruna ($635,000) from the Czech Film Fund for his second feature film, a biopic of Václav Havel, the Czech playwright and dissident, who became president of Czechoslovakia, and later President of the Czech Republic.

“Havel,” produced by Horák’s company TVORBA Films, will follow his life from the Prague Spring in 1968 to the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when Havel became Czechoslovakia’s president. As well as covering Havel’s experiences as a dissident and his time in prison, it will also deal with his relationship with his wife, Olga. The film will shoot next September and October, and will premiere in spring 2020.

At the start of his career, Horak served as second assistant director on Jan Sverak’s 1996 Oscar winner, “Kolya,” and later forged a successful career in advertising.

His 2015 feature debut, “Home Care,” won lead actress prizes for Alena Mihulová at Karlovy Vary, Central Europe’s most prestigious film festival, and the Czech Lions. The film was chosen as the Czech entry for the foreign-language film Oscar, and was a hit at the local box office.

It centers on a dedicated home-care nurse in the South Moravian countryside who puts everyone else’s needs before her own. When there comes a time that the carer herself needs care, the protagonist, her family and patients must all leave their comfort zones.

In its review, Variety described the film as “wryly humorous and bittersweet … an appealing humanist tale that puts a poignant spin on that perennial staple of the Czech cinema, the village dramedy.” It added that the film was “beautifully written and performed.”

The pic was inspired by tales that Horak’s mother, a home care nurse herself, would bring him as he developed his script. He came to realize the accounts were more authentic and wilder than anything he could have penned from his imagination, he told Variety.

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