Berlin-based sales agent Pluto Film has acquired Michal Blaško’s suspense drama “Victim,” about a woman seeking justice in a racist society, ahead of its world premiere in Venice’s competitive Horizons strand.
The Slovak-Czech-German coproduction tells the story of Irina (Vita Smachelyuk), a single mother from Ukraine living in a town in the Czech Republic. When her son Igor (Gleb Kuchuk) is attacked, the whole town stands in solidarity with her family and condemns their Roma neighbors, who allegedly committed the crime. After her son wakes up in hospital, truth and lies become difficult to tell apart, which in turn leads to a personal crisis.
Blaško states: “’Victim’ tells a story about trust between Irina and Igor, a mother and son living in a foreign country, where they are left to their own devices. My aim was to paint an emotional portrait of Irina and use it to expose the character of Central European society, which views the protagonist’s situation as an opportunity to unleash and legitimize its hatred. The leitmotif of the film is manipulation, which permeates the story across all social strata. The fact that Irina and Igor are Ukrainians, and thus belong to the minority that is most widely represented in the Czech Republic, while still not being fully accepted, gives the characters a unique perspective.”
Blaško studied film and television directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and FAMO Písek. His shorts were shown at festivals across the world and went on to win several awards. His student film “Atlantis, 2003” premiered in Cannes in 2017, and went on to win the Czech Lion for Best Student Film. He has since gathered a great deal of experience as a director of TV series. His latest series “Suspicion” premiered as part of this year’s Berlinale Series. “Victim” is his first feature.
“Victim” was part of L’Atelier in Cannes in 2019, and received the Works in Progress TRT Award at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival in 2021. It is produced by Jakub Viktorín and Pavla Janoušková Kubečková for Nutprodukce, in coproduction with Saar Yogev, Naomi Levari and Michael Reuter for Electric Sheep and Radio and Television Slovakia and Czech Television.
Viktorín comments: “It has been six years since Michal first shared his idea for his feature debut with us. The film was made during quite challenging times and required significant effort from both the creative team and our partners. We are honored to be invited to present ‘Victim’ at the oldest film festival in the world, and excited to have secured Pluto Film as our sales agent ahead of the world premiere. We are confident that this partnership will be key in distributing the film to audiences around the globe.”
Pluto Film’s CEO Daniela Cölle says: “We are excited to team up with a young and talented creative team of emerging director Michal Blaško and producers Jakub Viktorín and Pavla Janoušková Kubečková. The story of ‘Victim’ reflects a divided society where all groups have their interests and strategies to manipulate reality. The emotional core of the film is a conflictual mother and son relationship, yet it offers many layers, a direct, real cinematic style, and suspenseful storytelling.”
Pluto Film’s lineup also includes Bettina Blümner’s “Vamos a la Playa”; “How I Learned to Fly” by Serbian helmer Radivoje Andrić; Augusto Sandino’s “A Vanishing Fog”; and Locarno Piazza Grande 2022 entry “Semret” by Caterina Mona.
“Victim” was financially supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Czech Film Fund, Eurimages, Hamburg Film Fund, German Federal Film Fund, Creative Europe MEDIA Programme, South Moravian Film Fund, Ústecký Region and Pilsen Region.