New Drha film opens November 13

By Radovan Holub
    English Strawberries, co-produced by First Film (CZ), Czech Television, Continental Film (SK), and Filmport, will open November 13 in the Czech Republic.

    The budget for English Strawberries (www.anglickejahody.cz), 1.25 mil. Euro was financed by the Czech State Fund and the Czech based bank Postovni Sporitelna who is one of the strongest sponsors of the Czech film industry. Director is Vladimir Drha and the cast includes newcomer Ivan Luptak and Russian native Alexej Bardukov, nicknamed the "Russian Brad Pitt."

    The film is the love story of Tana and Tomas as he is about to leave for a strawberry picking job in England and set in August 1968, a seminal turning point in Czech history. The couple comes upon a Russian runaway soldier.

    "The importance of the year 1968, Prague Spring and Soviet occupation, was somehow neglected in the Czech feature film, even though this was the 40th anniversary year," Drha said. "We have enough Czech documentaries on that topic but scarcely any feature films which would show the events of 1968 and their human impact." Producer Pavel Melounek from First Film comments on the day of 21 August which is the frame for events in the film: "It was the worst day of our modern history. It was a total shock for my generation."

    First Film was founded in 2006 by Melounek and David Prudky known for the domestic hit comedy The Snowboarders (2004). The company plans to produce feature films, documentaries, and short films for internet. English Strawberries will be released abroad by Simply Cinema.

    According to the producers, Sundance Film Festival and the Berlinale are among those interested in premiering the film. "English Strawberries is substantially different from the mainstream of the Czech cinema and I firmly hope that we will make it for some kind of release abroad. A couple of foreign distributors already contacted us," Melounek told FNE.