Czech Republic | 2013 | 230 minutes | Agnieszka Holland
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An epic drama examining the emotional, political, and societal fallout from Prague student Jan Palach’s 1969 self-immolation protesting the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. A riveting thriller plot with complex characters and sumptuously re-created period detail.
May 27, 2014
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
|7:00 PM||Date has passed|
In January 1969, university student Jan Palach set himself aflame in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet occupation of his homeland. His brave deed and painful death sparked massive spin control by the Czech government and its Soviet overlords, rather than the expressions of dissent he hoped to inspire. This is Agnieszka Holland’s feature-cut of her expertly directed, three-part HBO Europe miniseries. It’s a compelling slice of history reminding us that fear can trump idealism and that truth doesn’t always lead to justice. Rather than telling Palach’s story in straightforward biopic form, the film concentrates on the impact his self-immolation had within the social and political climate of the time. The action centers on charismatic attorney Dagmar Buresova, who becomes part of Jan’s legacy by acting for his family in the legal case against the communist government, a regime that tried to dishonor Palach’s sacrifice. Burning Bush is a taut, nuanced work that represents a valuable contribution to understanding the past half-century of Czech history.
One of Poland’s most prominent filmmakers and political activists, Agnieszka Holland began her journey into cinema by attending the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She was assistant to both Polish film directors Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda before directing her debut feature, Provincial Actors, in 1978. Holland also collaborated with treasured director Krzysztof Kieslowski on his film, Three Colors: Blue, and is currently chairman at the European Film Academy board.
|Principal Cast:||Tatiana Pauhofová, Ivan Trojan, Martin Huba, Vojtech Kotek, Jaroslava Pokorná|
|Running Time:||230 minutes|
|Producer:||Tereza Polachová, Tomáš Hrubý|
|Website:||Official Film Website|
|Awards:||Czech Lions 2014 (Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Editing, Music)|
|Filmography:||In Darkness (2011); Janosik: A True Story (2009); Copying Beethoven (2006); Julie Walking Home (2002); The Third Miracle (1999); Washington Square (1997); Total Eclipse (1995); The Secret Garden (1993); Olivier, Olivier (1992); Europa Europa (1990); To Kill a Priest (1988); Angry Harvest (1985)|
|US Distributor:||Kino Lorber|
|International Sales:||Beta Cinema|