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La Biennale di Venezia

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The Painted Bird

Venezia 76 Competition
Václav Marhoul
Silver Screen (Václav Marhoul)
Running Time:
Slavic Esperanto, Czech, Russian, German
Czech Republic, Ukraine, Slovak Republic
Main Cast:
Petr Kotlár, Udo Kier, Lech Dyblik, Jitka Čvančarová, Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, Julian Sands, Barry Pepper, Aleksey Kravchenko
Václav Marhoul
Vladimir Smutny
Ludek Hudec
Production Designer:
Jan Vlasak
Costume Designer:
Helena Rovna
Pavel Rejholec
Visual Effects:
Viktor Müller


Based on the acclaimed novel by Jerzy Kosinski, The Painted Bird is a meticulous 35mm black and white evocation of wild, primitive Eastern Europe at the bloody close of World War II. The film follows the journey of the Boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. The old woman soon dies and the Boy is on his own, wandering through the country-side, from village to farmhouse. As he struggles for survival, the Boy suffers through extraordinary brutality meted out by the superstitious peasants and he witnesses the terrifying violence of the efficient, ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German. When the war ends, the Boy has been changed, forever.

Director’s Statement

The Painted Bird is not a war film, nor even a Holocaust film, for me it’s a completely timeless story. Of the struggle between darkness and light, good and evil and many other opposites. The story forces us to ask ourselves many unpleasant questions and to find for them, by ourselves, often very painful answers. It leads you to the most cutting doubts on the purpose and fate of the species Homo sapiens, doubts that hurt so much that you try to hang on to anything positive. Only in darkness can we see light. At least, this is how I read The Painted Bird. Shining through all the horrors is, for me, hope. For every artist, the treatment of such themes is almost a life-or-death challenge.


PRODUCTION: Václav Marhoul – Silver Screen
Palace Lucerna, Vodickova 36
11000 – Prague 1, Czech Republic
Tel.+ 420296236491
Fax + 420296236493
Mob. + 420602202811

WORLD SALES: Panahi Hengameh - Celluloid Dreams
2 rue Turgot
75009 – Paris France
Tel. + 33149700370

PRESS OFFICE: Charles McDonald - Charles McDonald Ltd. International Rescue
61B Rivington Street
EC2A3QQ – London, United Kingdom
Tel.+44 7785246377

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Biennale Cinema
Biennale Cinema