San Sebastian's Kursaal, the main venue for the film festival. Credit: Freepik.

Czech Film Il Boemo To Compete at San Sebastian Film Festival

Czech historical movie “Il Boemo”, telling the life story of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček, will have its world premiere in the main competition of the San Sebastian film festival, to be held on 16-24 September, the film-makers’ spokesman Pavel Turner told CTK on Tuesday.

The film, directed by Petr Vaclav, will thus compete for the Spanish festival’s main prize, the Golden Shell, whose previous winners include Oscar-winners such as Francis Ford Coppola and Elia Kazan.

The team behind the film said that even being selected for the main competition of this A-category festival is a huge success. The last time a Czech film achieved this was in 2019, when Vaclav Marhoul’s film “Nabarvené Ptáče” (The Painted Bird) was accepted to the main competition in Venice.

“Il Boemo” is among the most expensive Czech films ever, with a budget of CZK 120 million, mainly due to the producers’ intention to depict the atmosphere of the second half of the 18th century as accurately as possible, when Mysliveček was wowing the Italian opera lovers. Also contributing to the spectacular character of the film is the cooperation with such opera stars as Slovak-born soprano Simona Saturova and French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. The music was recorded by the Collegium 1704 Prague Baroque orchestra, led by Vaclav Luks.

“I feel extremely honoured that the film has entered the competition at such a prestigious festival. But I sincerely hope that not only the San Sebastian jury but all the viewers will like the movie,” said director and scriptwriter Vaclav, whose previous work has received several prizes at film festivals.

Vaclav cast Czech actor Vojtech Dyk in the leading role as the composer. “Playing the part of Josef Mysliveček was a big challenge and a motivation, as I am an actor as well as a musician,” said Dyk. “I am very curious, of course, to see how the European as well as Czech audiences will receive his story. Because Mysliveček deserves to have his story known.”

The film, a Czech-Italian-Slovak coproduction, was shot in Italy and the Czech Republic, with locations including Venice, Rome, Genoa, Naples, Sicily, the Estates Theatre in Prague, the Mahen Theatre in Brno, the monasteries in Plasy, west Bohemia, and Doksany, north Bohemia, and chateaus in Jaromerice nad Rokytnou and Bucovice, south Moravia.

The Czech premiere of “Il Boemo” will take place on 20 October 2022. As of 21 October, the Baroque Clam-Gallas Palace on Prague’s Mariánské náměstí will host the “Josef Mysliveček, detto Il Boemo (1737–1781)” exhibition, covering the composer’s life and work. It will also display selected costumes from the film and screen the film versions of Mysliveček’s arias, which were recorded in full length by the orchestra for the film, but only appear in part in the final version.