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Agnieszka Holland's Czech 'human torch' movie to premiere in Prague

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 22.01.2013 12:18
Director Agnieszka Holland's TV mini-series about Jan Palach, who burnt himself to death 44 years ago in protest against the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, premières in Prague, Wednesday.

Burning Bush (2013: photo - HBO Europe press materials

Agnieszka Holland, whose last film In Darkness won numerous awards in Poland and abroad, was involved in the student protest movement in Czechoslovakia at the time of the so-called Prague Spring, while a student of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

The three episode film, Burning Bush, had its press screening at the Grand Hall of Prague University, where Jan Palach studied history.

He was just 20 years-old when he burnt himself to death in protest against the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.

Referring to her own time in Czechoslovakia, Agnieszka Holland said that the events following Palach’s death deprived her of any lingering illusions about communism.

Burning Bush is not a docu-drama focusing on Palach’s suicide but a story of a young lawyer representing Palach’s mother.

The movie follows the transformation of society from mass resistance against the communist regime to growing resignation and normalization.

Produced by HBO Europe, the film will be shown at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam on 30 January, followed by television screenings in many countries, including Poland next month.

Burning Bush is dedicated to four people who burnt themselves to death in protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Jan Palach, Jan Zajic, Evzen Plockov and Poland’s Ryszard Siwiec.

Meanwhile, Holland’s previous film, In Darkness, has been premièred in Rome and goes on general release in Italy on Thursday, three days before Holocaust Memorial day, which is marked annually on 27 January.

In Darkness is the gripping true story of Leopold Socha, a Polish sewer worker in Lvov who keeps a group of Jews hidden in the sewers under the noses of the occupying Nazi forces, bringing them food and supplies, and saving them from the Holocaust. In an interview for the Italian Catholic daily ‘Avvenire’, Agnieszka Holland said that In Darkness was the most difficult project in her career, mainly in view of the conditions of work on location, in the sewers.

“I also felt a great sense of responsibility, realizing that telling yet another Holocaust story was not an easy task,” the Polish director said.

One of the Italian critics referred to Leopold Socha,the courageous worker who first sheltered the Jews for money but whose motives became gradually purer, as the Polish Schindler.

In Darkness won an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category last year. (mk/pg)

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