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Death and mortality under the spotlight in Czech observational doc The Intensive Life Unit


- The sophomore feature by Czech documentarian Adéla Komrzý follows two physicians working in palliative medicine while also focusing on intimate conversations between doctors and patients

Death and mortality under the spotlight in Czech observational doc The Intensive Life Unit
The Intensive Life Unit by Adéla Komrzý (© Adéla Komrzý)

The Docs in Progress industry initiative at this year’s virtual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (see the news) introduced a clutch of upcoming local projects. One of them was a documentary being staged by Czech company nutprodukce. The Intensive Life Unit, written and directed by Adéla Komrzý (the director of Viva video, video viva), and produced by Pavla Janoušková Kubečková, follows two senior physicians as they apply modern methods of palliative medicine.

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“We follow their efforts as they learn how to communicate with patients and gently guide them through the decision-making process on the best way to spend their final moments in both a physical and spiritual manner,” reveals the film’s synopsis. “Our documentary focuses on intimate conversations between doctors and patients. We also follow conversations between medical students and doctors, who are trying to pass on their knowledge. We explore our own capacity to communicate a simple yet long-forgotten truth: our own mortality,” says Komrzý, who previously had a brush with the topic of mortality in an episode of the Czech Television documentary series Don’t Give Up, called We Don’t Want Death in Life. “Even if the topic of the film may appear quite difficult, the message it conveys is actually very positive because we can see how the doctors’ efforts really help the patients and make their lives better,” said the producer.

Pavla Janouškový Kubečková disclosed during the industry presentation that about 80% of the material was already shot, with 70% of the project’s finances secured. They expect to have the film finished by the end of this year, and are planning to release it either late in 2020 or early in 2021. The Intensive Life Unit has been picked for the regional part of the dok.incubator workshop. They are still looking for a sales agent, broadcasters, festivals and pre-sales.

The Intensive Life Unit is being produced by nutprodukce, and is co-produced by FAMU, Czech Television and UPP. The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund.

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