It was precisely in 1 April that the first clapperboard was shut in Mladá Boleslav prison by the renowned Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland directing "Charlatan", in which the leading role of a folk healer is interpreted by the Czech film star and six-time holder of the Czech Lion award, Ivan Trojan. The crew will spend most of April on location in the Central Bohemia region.
The biopic about a herbalist who devoted his life to caring for the sick although it caused him all sorts of difficulties, is inspired by the real-life figure of Jan Mikolášek, whose story was adapted for the screenplay by Marek Epstein. In addition to Ivan Trojan, the younger version of Mikolášek will be portrayed by Trojan’s talented son Josef, while his second son, František Trojan, will also appear in the film. The substantial role of the healer’s assistant will be performed by the Slovak actor Juraj Loj, with other roles to be played by Václav Kopta, Jan Budař, Jan Vlasák, Otmar Brancuzský, Tomáš Jeřábek, Martin Myšička, Jaroslava Pokorná, Pavlína Štorková, and others.
On the first day of shooting Ivan Trojan met on the set with the actor Miroslav Hanuš, who plays an investigator. The director picked experienced colleagues and holders of several Czech Lions and other awards for the crew. The camera is operated by Martin Štrba, the set designer is Milan Býček, the costume designer is Katarína Štrbová Bieliková. The editing will be done by Pavel Hrdlička and the soundtrack will by created by the noted Polish composer Antoni Komasa - Lazarkiewicz.
The story will span 40 years of the life of an exceptional man who healed people ranging from the most famous personalities to the poorest people. "His abilities and a certain otherness were admired by people but often rejected. Drama was created there, unfolding between him and the surrounding world. And then his inner drama... He knows he is saving lives, and he knows he can help people, yet he realises he is in need of help himself. And this conflict underpins our storyline," said by way of explanation Ivan Trojan, who prepared painstakingly for his role.
The riveting life story of a man who helped by dint of his unexplainable abilities more than a million patients, according to period sources, spans several decades. Regardless of the time and regime, the healer Jan Mikolášek, without even having a formal education in medicine and without preconceived ideas, establishes diagnoses and heals with herbs people from all social classes, even as he fights against his inner demons.
"I have always been interested in healing. The fact somebody is able to look so deep into the body and soul of another person, that he finds out what is in them... Mikolášek was unbelievably smart and intuitive, but also a rational individual who managed to diagnose people and help them with herbs," said the director Agnieszka Holland about the featured role in the film that captures a great part of the history of the 20th century.
"What is most powerful about Charlatan for me is not what it says, but how it says it. I was charmed by its original narrative style and cinematic moderation. Everything is distinctive yet emotive, fragile in expression yet strong in substance," adds the seventy-year old filmmaker, who presented at this year’s Berlinale festival the British TV project Napoleon and her latest film, biographical drama "Mr. Jones".
"Charlatan" is being produced by Marlene Film Production of Šárka Cimbalová and by Producer Kevan van Thompson. Most of the shooting will take place in April and June 2019 on location in Bohemia. The premiere is scheduled for 20.2.2020. The Czech distributor is CinemArt, the foreign distributor is Films Boutiques.
This is a riveting biopic about an exceptional man endowed with healing abilities against a background of period events. The story is inspired by the real-life fate of the folk healer Jan Mikolášek, to whom turned for help during several decades thousands of people from all social strata, including the most prominent figures from political and cultural life. Mikolášek is a man without medical education but he possesses an uncommon and unexplainable gift for making diagnoses and healing with herbs diseases that leave doctors baffled. But, he pays a high price for his extraordinary skills, having to fight his inner demons. Healing is his personal salvation and protection against himself.
Charlatan is a Czech-Ireland-Poland-Slovak co-production, produced by Šárka Cimbalová and Kevan van Thompson from Marlene Film Production, coproduced by Mike Downey (Film & Music Entertainment) from Ireland and by Klaudia Smieja (Madants) in association with Wojciech Gostomczyk (Studio Metrage) from Poland. Further coproducers also include Czech Television, Barrandov Studios and Radio and Television Slovakia.
The film has an overal budget of 3 mln Euro.
It has been presented among the selected projects at Berlinale Co-Production Market in Berlin in 2016.