The Polish director, whose last film “Mr. Jones” premiered in competition at Berlin Film Festival in February, started to lens the pic Monday in Mladá Boleslav prison in the Czech Republic. The crew will spend most of this month on location in the Central Bohemia region of the country.
The pic, about an herbalist who devotes his life to caring for the sick despite many difficulties, is inspired by the real-life figure of Jan Mikolášek, whose story was adapted for the screen by Marek Epstein. Ivan Trojan, six-time winner of the Czech Lion award, plays Mikolášek.
In a statement, Holland said: “I have always been interested in healing… the fact somebody is able to look so deep into the body and soul of another person, that he finds out what is in them… Mikolášek was unbelievably smart and intuitive, but also a rational individual who managed to diagnose people and help them with herbs.”
She added: “What is most powerful about ‘Charlatan’ for me is not what it says, but how it says it. I was charmed by its original narrative style and cinematic moderation. Everything is distinctive yet emotive, fragile in expression yet strong in substance.”
Trojan said: “His abilities and a certain otherness were admired by people but often rejected. Drama was created there, unfolding between him and the surrounding world. And then his inner drama… He knows he is saving lives, and he knows he can help people, yet he realizes he is in need of help himself. And this conflict underpins our storyline.”
The younger version of Mikolášek will be played by Trojan’s son Josef, while his second son, František Trojan, will also appear in the film. The role of the healer’s assistant will be performed by the Slovak actor Juraj Loj.
“Charlatan” is produced by Šárka Cimbalová and Kevan van Thompson for Marlene Film Production. It is coproduced by Mike Downey and Samantha Taylor at Film & Music Entertainment from Ireland and by Klaudia Smieja at Madants Film from Poland. Coproducers also include Czech Television, Barrandov Studios and Radio and Television Slovakia.
Most of the shooting will take place in April and June 2019 on location in Bohemia. The premiere is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2020. The Czech distributor is CinemArt.
Foto: Marlene Film Production (Alžběta Jungrová)