Lidice film project set to start shooting despite withdrawal of director Alice Nellis

Thursday is the anniversary of the razing the village of Lidice by the Nazis in 1942, without doubt one of the darkest moments in modern Czech history. A planned film about the massacre has been delayed for some years due to funding problems. Now the film’s producer has been forced to announce yet another piece of bad news. Alice Nellis, who was originally meant to direct the film, has had to step back from the project due to illness.

The hurdles that the production team behind the Lidice project has had to jump seem almost endless. Due to funding issues, the movie had been in the development stage for some years. Now, not long after financing was secured, yet another obstacle has presented itself: acclaimed director Alice Nellis, who was going to helm the feature, has had to step down because of illness.

Petr Nikolaev (left), Adam Dvořák, photo: CTKPetr Nikolaev (left), Adam Dvořák, photo: CTK Lidice would be the first Czech-made feature film dealing with one of the nation’s most important historic events. Producers have called on the public to help support the project, while cities such as Liberec and Prague have also contributed funds. With a shooting date set for July 26, Nellis’s withdrawal has caused the makers problems: her success with previous films had been one of their selling points, especially to foreign sponsors. Adam Dvořák is the producer behind the project.

“Our lawyers right now are rewriting all the agreements that we prepared, so that’s difficult. But everybody understands that there is a major reason for changing the director, because everybody is scared that if we move the project to later, everything can change, the crew, and also the finances, because the budgets are for this year, for shooting this year, and by next year, many, many things can change.”

Petr Nikolaev, whose film Báječná léta pod psa was a hit in the late 1990s, will now step into the director’s role. Adam Dvořák says that he is happy with the choice.

“It was because I know his film Kousek Nebe very well, and I like it very much. And I think that he has a good connection to historic themes and war. And I was surprised to learn that he has a connection to the topic of Heydrich and Lidice as well. So that’s great, that we found somebody who has enthusiasm for the project, I believe.”

Despite the initial dearth of sponsors and the last-minute change of director, the film should premiere on June 10 2011, a year ahead of the 60-year-anniversary of the Lidice massacre.