Czech shoots, which have been robust in recent years as a steady stream of series decamps to Barrandov’s soundstages, were suspended over virus concerns this spring, but now the country has been reopened to shooting and the sector is expected to rebound, says the Czech Film Commission’s Pavlina Zipkova.
The country reopened its borders to European citizens on April 27, and the European Union is expected to lift its recommendation that citizens from non-European countries are denied entry on May 15. With theaters opened May 1 and the Czech Cinematography Fund adding flexibility for projects claiming incentive rebates while the Culture Ministry works on increasing the fund, “Most of the affected productions we are hoping will come back. Everything is in negotiations,” says Zipkova.
The two most affected major productions, the second season of Amazon’s “Carnival Row” and the first season of Amazon/Sony Pictures Television series “Wheel of Time,” starring Rosamund Pike, have both committed to resuming, Zipkova adds.
Netflix’s “Transatlantic 473,” the Peter Thorwarth-directed story of a hijacking with a supernatural twist co-written by Stefan Holz, is also expected to resume its Czech shoot, making good on the emergency funding help the project’s crew has received from the Hardship Fund, which Netflix created for all its interrupted productions worldwide.
A Prague location shoot in March for Marvel TV series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was one interruption not expected to resume. Filming was abruptly shut down after the Atlanta-based crew rolled into the Czech Republic just as coronavirus shutdowns were taking force.
Czech bizzers have begun planning virus-safe production strategies, working with the European Institute for Health and Safety in Film Production, in particular “smoothing the procedure of crossing the borders for international filmmakers,” says Zipkova.
The Czech Audiovisual Producers Assn. has also formulated strict on-set risk protection protocols while the government begins gradual reductions in its strict shutdown rules. The rules on crowd sizes now exempt film productions and crews will no longer be limited to 50, officials have announced.
Meanwhile, Czech films such as the David Ondricek’s ambitious “Zátopek,” about the Olympic runner, sits in post, uncertain that its August release date will happen.
Czech Titles on Tap
Director: Slavek Horak
Producers: Czech TV, Tvorba Films
Key cast: Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova, Martin Hofmann
The first major fact-based biopic on the global human-rights icon and Czech president focuses on Vaclav Havel’s formative years starting with the Prague Spring of 1968 through his transformation over two decades, turning on lesser-known events and gaps in the official biography.
Director: Jiri Havelka
Producers: Marek Jenicek, CinemArt, Czech TV
With 12 Czech Lion awards noms — including best film, director, screenplay and acting — in 2020, the pic centers on the coming together of members of a building co-op to save their homes.
“Traces of a Landscape”
Director: Petr Záruba
Producers: Alice Tabery, Cinepoint, Mammut Film, Czech TV
Czech-Italian doc tells a story of Czechoslovak painter, photographer and experimental filmmaker Jan Jedlicka, who was forced to leave the country in 1968, settling in Switzerland before falling in love with the vistas of Tuscany.
Director: Eliska Cilkova
Producers: Jindrich Andrs, Gamma Pictures
The Jihlava doc fest Silver Eye winner focuses on the radioactive pianos left behind when Pripyat was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. It also tells the story of the 1986 nuclear meltdown in its own way.
Director: David Ondricek
Producers: Lucky Man Films, Czech TV, Barrandov Studios, Innogy, T-Mobile, Z Films
Key cast: Vaclav Neuzil, Martha Issova, James Frecheville
The biopic of Emil Zatopek, which chronicles the Czech runner’s unlikely rise to four Olympics wins while living under the communist regime in the 1950s, is one of the country’s most ambitious projects.