Its decision follows recent submissions by Singapore, Kosovo and Georgia. Other countries to have selected their entries include Bhutan, Taiwan, Ukraine, Bosnia, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Poland and Switzerland.
“Charlatan,” which premiered in the Berlinale Special Gala section of the Berlin Film Festival, is based on the true story of Czech healer Jan Mikolášek, who dedicated his life to treating the sick using medicinal plants. Throughout the war and turmoil of the 20th century he has to choose between his calling and his conscience.
Holland told Variety: “‘Charlatan’ tells the story of Mikolášek’s rise and fall. Of his moral fall and of his constant fight with the darkness inside him. It is the story of the mystery of a man, of the mystery of his special gift, of the prize he was ready to pay for it; the story of the paradox of strength and weakness, of love and hate.”
In his review for Variety, Guy Lodge described the film as a “handsome, intelligently questioning but slightly dry biopic.” He added: “Caught between a respectful tribute to Mikolášek’s medical achievements and a more salacious examination of his moral transgressions — with a tender if speculative gay romance propped somewhere in between — it’s an ambitious portrait of human imperfection that doesn’t strain to arouse much affection for its subject in the audience.”
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Holland’s films include “Bitter Harvest,” which was nominated for an Academy Award as best film in a foreign language in 1986. “Europa Europa” (1990) won a Golden Globe and a second Oscar nomination, this time for best original screenplay. “In Darkness” (2011) was Oscar nominated for best foreign-language film.
In 1993, Holland made the first of many films in the U.S. with “The Secret Garden,” produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Holland has also directed many episodes of U.S. TV series such as “The Wire,” “The Killing,” “House of Cards” and “The First.”
Her previous two feature films, “Pokot” (2017) and “Mr. Jones” (2019), were both selected for the Berlinale competition.
In “Charlatan,” Ivan Trojan plays Jan Mikolášek, with Josef Trojan playing Mikolášek when he was a young man. Other cast include Juraj Loj, Jaroslava Pokorná, Jiří Černý and Miroslav Hanuš.
Marek Epstein wrote the screenplay, and Martin Strba was the cinematographer. The film was produced by Šárka Cimbalová and Kevan Van Thompson for Marlene Film Production. The co-producers were Mike Downey, Sam Taylor, Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska and Lívia Filusová.
International sales are being handled by Films Boutique. Sold territories so far are France (KMBO), Spain (Vercine), Italy (Movies Inspired), Australia (Vendetta Films), Israel (Lev Cinema), Turkey (Filmarti), BeNeLux (CINEMIEN Film Distribution) Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland (PRO-FUN MEDIA Film Distribution), Latin America (Great Movies), Baltics (Best Film), Bulgaria (Art Fest), Ex-Yugoslavia (MCF Megacom), Hungary (Mozinet), Iceland (Bio Paradis), Portugal (Leopardo) and Korea (NK Contents). The Czech distributor is CinemArt, while Gutek Film will release the film in Poland. The film has attracted 235,000 admissions in theaters in the Czech Republic so far.
As previously reported, other countries to select their Oscar entries include Singapore (“Wet Season”), Kosovo (“Exil”), Georgia (“Beginning”), Switzerland (“My Little Sister”), Poland (“Never Gonna Snow Again”), Bhutan (“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”), Taiwan (“A Sun”), Ukraine (“Atlantis”), Bosnia (“Quo Vadis, Aida?”), the Ivory Coast (“Night of the Kings”) and Luxembourg (“River Tales”).
The 93rd Oscars ceremony will take place on April 25, 2021.