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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic

Jaro Vojtek braces for another foray into fiction filmmaking with Anaesthesia

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- The award-winning Slovakian documentarian is preparing his sophomore fiction feature, about the “everyday struggle for morality and faith”

Jaro Vojtek braces for another foray into fiction filmmaking with Anaesthesia
Director Jaro Vojtek

The Czech Film Fund recently supported Slovakian documentarian Jaro Vojtek’s sophomore feature-length fiction film, Anaesthesia, with a €100,000 minority co-production grant. Vojtek will be premiering his latest documentary, Paradise on Earth, at the impending Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (see the news) and has another doc, 7 Days, in post-production. Vojtek unveiled his feature-length fiction debut, Children [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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, written by Marek Leščák, in 2014, and he is teaming up with Leščák again on his second foray into fiction filmmaking. Leščák and Vojtek co-wrote the script for this “classical initiatory drama about searching for oneself, and the everyday struggle for morality and faith”, in the words of the board of the Czech Film Fund.

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The story follows a doctor and anaesthetist who has a chance to redeem himself after a fatal misadventure, but he refuses to do so and instead embarks on “a spiritual pilgrimage to the very core of his being so that he may forgive himself and accept things as they are”, explains the director. The tale will be set against the backdrop of life in the Slovakian village of Litmanová, popular with pilgrims, where “the power of circumstances alternates with the pathos of the location and the bitterly comic irony of the village setting and the lives of its inhabitants”, the director’s statement reveals. The helmer said the basic poetics of the film should be “a kind of magical realism”.

Vojtek says the story is inspired by true events that he experienced in Litmanová, where he shot his graduate documentary, Once Upon a Time in the East, about two girls and the apparition of the Virgin Mary, and Anaesthesia will also be shot on location in the very same village. Dominika Fáberová, of MPhilms, confirmed to Cineuropa that the team is currently finalising the financing, and principal photography is scheduled for spring 2021. The post-production work is expected to be carried out until the end of 2021, with the movie’s release planned in 2022. In contrast with Vojtek’s fiction feature debut, he is looking for professional and experienced actors for the cast of Anaesthesia.

The helmer clarifies his ambitions in the director’s statement, saying that the film is important for him, personally, “as a statement about the current, shallow society. It is not solely about the moral failure of the church, but also about an overall feeling of disorientation and the crumbling of basic values in Slovakia and Europe. That’s why this film is about looking for oneself in terms of basic values and staring the truth in the eye, which can be liberating”.

Anaesthesia is being produced by Zora Jaurová and Mátyás Prikler, of MPhilms (who produced Vojtek’s fiction feature debut as well as his latest doc, Paradise on Earth), and co-produced by Kamila Zlatušková, of Telepunk, on the Czech side. The project has been supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and the Czech Film Fund. The film’s budget is €843,000, and negotiations are ongoing with a number of distributors.

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