JAN PALACH JAN PALACH
On the afternoon of 16 January 1969, 21-year-old Jan Palach doused himself with gasoline in the middle of Prague’s Wenceslas Square and set himself on fire. He would come to be known as “Torch No. 1” for his protest against the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring. What moves a young individual to resort to such a radical act? In this biographical drama, director Robert Sedláček traces the period in time beginning with the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops and ending with Palach’s self-immolation. The screenplay was written by author Eva Kantůrková, who was herself an active participant in the Prague Spring.
The film makes palpable the social climate of the “normalisation” period that followed the violent repression of the Czechoslovakian reform movement – the country’s mood was characterised by censorship, fear and lethargy. With his extreme act, the young philosophy student Jan Palach intended to rouse his fellow countrymen and call for protest against the occupation of the country by Warsaw Pact troops. Sedláček tells Palach’s story with a steady hand and without a trace of pathos. This sage approach accounts for the power of this impressive film, which is devoted to one of the most important figures in Czechoslovakian collective memory.
Born in 1973 in Zlín, the Czech based director graduated from Prague Film Academy FAMU in 2001. Since 1997, he has directed numerous feature and short documentary films on social and historical subjects which were produced by Czech public television. Since 2005, he has also frequently directed fiction features, three of which have been nominated for the Czech Film Awards. JAN PALACH took the Czech Film Critics' Award for Best Film in 2019.
Filmography (selection)2006 // PRAVIDLA LZI / RULES OF LIES2010 // NEJVĚTŠÍ Z ČECHŮ / THE LARGEST OF THE CZECHS2011 // RODINA JE ZÁKLAD STÁTU / LONG LIVE THE FAMILY!2018 // JAN PALACH
Czech Republic, Slovakia 2018
123 min, DCP, colour
Czech, Slovak, Russian, French, English
OV with English Subs
Cineart TV Prague
Radio and Television of Slovakia
Czech State Film Fund
Prague Film Fund
Slovak Audiovisual Fund