After 38 days of filming, the final clapperboard has been snapped shut on “Charlatan,” Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s latest film, and it’s a wrap. The film will premiere on Feb. 20, 2020, which offers the possibility of a launch at the Berlin Film Festival (Feb. 20-March 1).
“Charlatan” was shot in several locations in the Czech Rep. in April and June. Holland, producer Sarka Cimbalova of Czech Rep.’s Marlene Film Production and the Czech screenwriter, Marek Epstein, will attend the Karlovy Vary Film Festival Wednesday to present the project live on Czech Television, which backed the movie.
The film is inspired by the true story of healer Jan Mikolasek, who dedicated himself to caring for the sick, in spite of the huge obstacles he faced in his private and public life.
“From the moment I read the script I thought the story was quite strong, full of a certain mystery,” Holland said. “And when I read something like that and the character begins to take form within me, I try to grasp it, try to find out what it means for others, and then the need to tell this story grows in me. This story has grown for several years.”
The title role of the healer is played by well-known Czech actor Ivan Trojan. The healer’s younger self is played by Ivan Trojan’s real-life son, Josef Trojan, and his second son Frantisek Trojan also appears in a smaller role. Another major role, the healer’s assistant, is played by Slovak actor Juraj Loj.
Holland is best known for her films “Europa Europa” (1991), for which she was Oscar nominated for adapted screenplay, and her 2011 drama “In Darkness,” which was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2017 she received the Alfred Bauer Prize (Silver Bear) for her film “Spoor” at the Berlin Film Festival.
This is not the first time Holland has worked in the Czech Rep. For her film “Burning Bush” in 2013 she received the most prestigious Czech award, the Czech Lion, for best director, best film and also the audience award. Holland studied in the Czech Rep. and in 1971 graduated from Prague’s FAMU.
Epstein has more than 30 films under his belt. For “In the Shade” he received a Czech Lion and for “Vaclav” he was awarded best screenplay at the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival. Behind the lens is renowned cameraman Martin Strba, who received Czech Lions for “Masaryk” and “Burning Bush,” the Czech Film Critics’ Prize for “Burning Bush,” and the Slovak Sun in a Net award for the films “The Interpreter,” “Masaryk” and “Soul at Peace.”
Ivan Trojan is one of Czech. Rep.’s busiest actors. He received a Czech Lion for his roles in the films “Seducer,” “Brats,” “One Hand Can’t Clap,” “Vaclav,” “In the Shade” and “Nowhere in Moravia.” He also received the Czech film critics’ prize for his work in “In the Shade.”
The film follows 40 years in the life of Mikolasek, a person with no professional medical education, but who possesses an unusual and inexplicable ability to diagnose illnesses, and use herbs to cure the sick when doctors are stymied.
Courtesy of Marlene Film Production
“People admired his abilities and unconventional nature, but often also did not accept it,” explained Ivan Trojan. “This created a drama, played out between him and the surrounding world. And he was also influenced by his inner drama… He knew how to help people, but at the same time realized he needed to help himself. And this tension is a dramatic theme of our story.”
Cimbalova produced the film “Storyteller” with world famous model Eva Herzigova in one of the main roles, and “Angel of the Lord 2,” which was commercially one of the most successful Czech films ever. She produces alongside producer Kevan Van Thompson, whose credits include “Dust,” “Bathory” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
The films is co-produced by Mike Downey and Sam Taylor of Ireland’s Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) Ltd., whose recent titles include “How to Fake a War” by Rudolph Herzog, and Volker Schloendorff’s “Return to Montauk.” The Polish co-producer is Klaudia Smieja of Madants, who produced Holland’s most recent effort “Mr. Jones” – another Berlin premiere – with additional Polish financing from Studio Metrage.
“Charlatan” has received financial support from the State Cinematography Fund of the Czech Republic, the Polish Film Institute, and Audiovisual Fund SK.
Post-production of the film will take place in the Czech Rep. Music will be composed by Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz, who composed the score for “In Darkness” and “Mr. Jones.”
The Czech distributor is CinemArt, and international distribution is handled by Films Boutique.
Courtesy of Marlene Film Production