HBO to fund Czech feature documentaries

By FNE Staff
    HBO announced it has chosen five documentary projects for development with the goal of beginning production on two feature length films in the fall.

    Ondrej Zach said HBO had received 69 entries in a nation-wide competition for documentary film projects. The five winning films will receive a modest sum for the development phase. By fall, HBO will begin production on up to two films, with financing at CZK1.5 million (65,000 Euros). The projects are produced under the umbrella title "Without Censorship."

    Aleksander Kutela, president of HBO Poland and senior vice president of HBO Central Europe in charge of original production, told FNE that HBO's venture in original documentary film production began in 2007 in Poland. Six projects have already been completed, with five new films in production and two more international productions in the early planning stages. HBO Hungary debuted a scripted documentary series in early 2008 and documentary production also began in Romania earlier this year. Kutela said HBO's initiative "combines great Central European cinematography tradition" with HBO financing, calling the budgets "competitive" with final production reflecting "HBO quality," having access to international distribution under the HBO umbrella.

    HBO has original stand-up comedy shows in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. The company expects to move into pan-regional fiction series production, producing two series per year to air by the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010.