Tatar

Prague spring

feature film
PRE-PRODUCTION

Our story takes place at the end of the summer of 1968. It unfolds within the confines of a small border town, where the surrounding world seeps in with many years of delay. In this godforsaken place we meet the local dentist Karla Heřmanová, who lives in her mother’s crumbling house outside the town. Karla (or Heřmanka, as the locals call her) is a woman on the brink of a burnout, struggling to keep alive her big dream of moving to a big city and starting a new, hopefully normal, life. Living together with her mother is like being in a battlefield, where the mother’s coservative opinions clash with her daughter’s pragmatic views. It is well after midnight on August 21st. After a night of partying, Heřmanka sleeps like a log. The unusual noise coming from the crossroads near their house does not awaken her or her mother. The Red Army with the Allies have just invaded the free country of Czechoslovakia. Hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles come hurtling to Prague. Where necessary, the Soviets will place a traffic officer whose task is to show the coming convoys the right direction. One such officer is also planted at the crossroads in front of the Heřmans’ house.

In the morning, the dentist is surprised and exchanges weird looks with the soldier. The whole country is preoccupied by the situation, while Heřmanka could not care less. It is hard for her life to change for the worse. The only things that bother her are the sudden lack of patients and a postal delay, as she is impatiently waiting for her transfer request to be processed. And what is even more annoying, the soldier at the crossroads is still there. Now she will have to face him every day on her way to work and home, which makes her extremely uncomfortable. The intersection with the bus stop is deserted. The mother is even less tolerant of the soldier. She will not even allow him to pump water from her well. For the old woman, the soldier at the crossroads becomes a symbol of her suffering. An enemy, a filthy Russian, an invader!

A wild summer storm nearly becomes fatal for the man at the crossroads. They will not let him into the house. The mother will not allow it. He catches a chill, but he knows he must not leave his spot. However, even a Red Army soldier only has one health. A bad case of pneumonia settles in the young man's chest, getting worse every hour. Heřmanka once took an oath to help people. She hears the soldier cough at night and when she sees him the next morning, feverish and barely conscious, she decides she has to act. She fetches penicillin from her office, an antibiotic used for extreme inflammation cases, and using a wheelbarrow, she takes the soldier to the barn. Heřmanka already knows that the soldier, Rustam, possesses not one drop of Russian blood. He is a Tatar and the Tatars' love for the Russians is about as deep as the Czechoslovaks’. Ironically, being unable to understand each other may just be what brings them closer. Heřmanka's attempts to dust off her school Russian hit Rustam's reluctance to speak the language. This gives them room to remain silent. To understand each other through the language of the universe, while crossing thousands of miles and hundreds of taboos. But it is just a sweet delay of the inevitable. Deep down they both know that the moment of revelation is approaching.

DIRECTOR
Peter Bebjak

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Martin Žiaran

COMPOSER
Jiří Hájek

SCREENPLAY
Marek Epstein

IDEA BY
Jaroslav Sedláček 

PRODUCERS
Šárka Cimbalová, Kevan Van Thompson

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EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

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  • Zuzana Janák
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    +420 724 577 576

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Marlene Film Production, s.r.o.
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