Thursday, 24 April 2014

Film about Palach to premiere on Wednesday

ČTK |
21 January 2013

Prague, Jan 18 (CTK) - "What happened after Palach's act and the onset of normalisation was a tremendous human experience for me," Polish director Agnieszka Holland said Friday about her film Burning Bush, devoted to Czech Jan Palach who burnt himself to death, that will be premiered in Prague on January 23.

"I felt both the burden and desperation," Holland said, adding that this influenced her views and changed what she thought of people and the world.

She said she believed that the film could address the new generation of viewers after 44 years.

Palach's act had never been filmed before.

Palach, 20, attempted to burn himself to death to protest against the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on Wenceslas square in Prague on January 16, 1969.

Three days later, on January 19, 1969, he succumbed to the third-degree burns. His funeral, in which tens of thousands of people took part, developed into a national demonstration for freedom and democracy.

The film starts with the reconstruction of Palach's alarming act.

Using the story of a young lawyer who represented Palach's mother in the dispute with a Communist apparatchik, it watches the transformation of society from the mass tacit resistance culminating with Palach's funeral to the growing resignation and oncoming normalisation, the early 1970s when a tough Communist regime along with mass purges was installed.

The script is written by Stepan Hulik who cooperated with historian Petr Blazek.

"The international premiere will be at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam on January 30. This will be followed up by television premieres in various countries with the first in the Netherlands in early February," Ondrej Zach, from the HBO Europe company, told CTK Friday.

A large premiere will also take place in Poland in late February.

Holland said she did not know the situation challenged by Palach only from narration.

At the time of the Prague 1968 reform Communist movement and the following normalisation, she studied at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

She was involved in the student protest movement in Prague, was detained in December 1971 and was then remanded in custody for almost two months.

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