Charlatan directed by Agnieszka Holland, is Czech Republic Oscar entry for International Film Award that is now in the Oscar’s shortlist.
Few true stories tread the thin line between good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. Mikolášek won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for “urinary diagnosis”. But his passion for healing welled up from the same source as a lust for cruelty, sadism, and an incapacity for love that only one person could ever quell – his assistant, František. As a show trial threatens to
pry open these secrets and undo him, Jan’s dichotomies are put to a final test, with the fate of his life’s only love in the balance. A personal tale as replete with twists as the century itself, and a reflection on the price one pays for single-mindedly following one’s calling.
To learn more about making of the Charlatan we had a ZOOM interview with Agnieszka Holland, director of the film:
Agnieszka Holland was born in Warsaw and has directed and/or written over thirty films in her illustrious career. She studied directing at FAMU, the Prague Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts and started her professional life as assistant director for Krysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda, for whose films she wrote several screenplays. Her directorial debut Provincial Actors was honored by the International Critics’ Jury in its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 1979.
Her film Fever (Gorączka) won the Polish Film Festival as well as a Silver Bear as Best Actress for Barbara Grabowska in the 1981 Berlinale Competition. Also in 1981, and shortly before the declaration of martial law in Poland, Holland moved to Paris. Her first film after emigrating, Bitter Harvest, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Film in a Foreign Language in 1986. Europa Europa (1990) won a Golden Globe and a second Oscar nomination, this time for best original screenplay. In 1993, Holland made the first of many films in the US with The Secret Garden, produced by Francis Ford Coppola. In Darkness (2011) earned her a third Oscar nomination. Her last two feature films, Pokot (2017, winner of the Silver Bear for Innovation in the Art of Cinema) and Mr. Jones (2019), were both selected for the Berlinale Competition. Holland has also directed many episodes of renowned TV-Series such as The Wire, The Killing, House of Cards and The First.