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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Czech Republic

Czech experimental docu-fiction Blue Box to marry genre with avant-garde filmmaking

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- The guerrilla project by Petr Šprincl and Marie Hájková merges mockumentary, noir, mystery and sci-fi as it tackles the topic of extremism

Czech experimental docu-fiction Blue Box to marry genre with avant-garde filmmaking
Directors Marie Hájková and Petr Šprincl on the set of Blue Box (© Xova Film)

The works of Petr Šprincl, a Czech artist, filmmaker and co-founder of Flesh&Brain, an art platform for low-budget guerrilla filmmaking, fall into a category of their own. His directorial feature debut, the documentary road movie Vienna Calling [+see also:
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, follows a Slovak grave robber and amateur stomatologist, Ondrej Jajcaj, as he prepares to return the dental remnants of Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms that he illegally exhumed in 2002. Last year, Šprincl finished a series of films called Moravia, O Fair Land, in which he marries genre with avant-garde filmmaking in an eccentric cine-essay on Czech nationalism. The film cycle shapeshifts through western-musical-folk-horror and social documentary satire, bringing in national myths, local folklore, zombies and death metal while combining lo-fi VHS aesthetics with 8mm and digital cinematography.

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Šprincl is continuing in the same vein of low-budget, guerrilla, avant-garde docu-fiction in his upcoming project Blue Box. It is written by Marie Hájková, Šprincl’s regular collaborator, who is also sharing directing duties with him. Akin to Moravia, O Fair Land, Blue Box incorporates an array of genres, such as film noir, sci-fi, crime-mystery and mockumentary in a story about “a detective on the case of mysterious murders and inexplicable phenomena taking place in the USA, Europe and Africa. Seemingly unrelated places are linked by mysterious societies and sects that perpetrate evil of supernatural dimensions.”

The narration unfolds in both the past and the present – the former plotline is captured on VHS and the latter on digital camera. The directors are applying a method that combines scripted scenes with documentary filmmaking and real situations that crop up during the shoot. The topic of the project is extremism and current social tensions all around the world, while the film’s producer Marek Novák, of Xova Film, adds: “The sci-fi setting provides a certain distance from malign ideologies while warning against their abuse and the gravity of their impact.” Novák told Cineuropa that, besides a feature-length film, work on the project will yield a non-linear and partially interactive oeuvre for site-specific and online screenings.

Šprincl and Hájková are venturing beyond the borders of Moravia in Blue Box, as they spent four weeks shooting in the USA’s Bible Belt and two weeks in New York in 2019. The co-directors, who double as cinematographers, will be spending one more week shooting in Spain and Morocco in April 2021, which will be the last leg of production. Novák confirmed to Cineuropa that the post-production is scheduled to last until September 2021, including 3D animations, which will be prepared in collaboration with the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Brno University of Technology. Blue Box is being made in consultation with American underground filmmaker Jon Moritsugu, and the music will be composed by Poland’s Wojciech Kucharczyk. The producer is currently looking for festivals and sales agents while also seeking galleries and non-theatrical distribution partners.

Blue Box is being produced by Marek Novák, of Xova Film. The project was in the running for the Eurimages Lab Project Award at the 2019 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The premiere is preliminarily set for winter 2021.

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