Just a few days after the Czech film Protektor took a prize at a festival in Denver, another ambitious project is just entering the cinemas across the country. Thursday night will see the official premiere of 3 sezóny v pekle or 3 Seasons in Hell. The feature debut by Tomáš Mašín, a Czech, Slovak and German co-production, has already received praise by Czech reviewers.
Tomáš Mašín is a respected director of commercials and music videos. The screenplay for his feature film, 3 Seasons in Hell, was inspired by the youthful memoirs of Egon Bondy, one of the most important figures of the Czechoslovak literary scene, who also happened to be the author of song lyrics for the Plastic People of the Universe. Producer Monika Kristl outlines the story:
“It is very simple. The film takes place in Prague over three years, from 1947 to 1950, which is important to say, and it is about a young guy who likes to rebel and wants to find his own way in his life and love. Of course the politics which happen in the background of the story affect the life of the hero.”
Ivan Heinz, the film’s main protagonist, who is both young and good-looking, leaves home to join his bohemian friends. While putting together his first collection of poetry, he falls madly in love with Jana, who initiates him into her decadent lifestyle. Meanwhile, the new communist regime starts showing its repressive face. Ivan and Jana plan an escape to Paris, but the borders are unexpectedly closed.
While the producer stresses that 3 Seasons in Hell is not a political film, critics say it is exactly the historical background that makes it more than just an ordinary love story. Thanks to his experience with commercials, Mašín recreated an unbelievably truthful picture of Prague of the late 1940s. Monika Kristl again:
“Originally Tomáš Mašín studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He is a painter, actually. And I think that his view is very visual. I think in this film it is a combination of story telling and his visual approach.”
While Mašín garnered awards for his commercials and music videos, it took him nearly six years to finish the feature film, which is his first. Producer Monika Kristl explains why it took him so long:
“It had quite a big budget, almost three million Euros, and of course as it was a first-time director and a first-time producer, it took us a bit longer to prove that we were serious about our project. Of course we didn’t have any past background so we had to continue and push strongly for this project.”
The filmmakers are now hoping that their love story based in Communist Czechoslovakia will appeal not only to domestic but also to international audiences.
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