Archive of films Burning Bush / Hořící keř

Czech Republic
2013, 231 min

Section: Special Events
Year: 2013

This film, which opens with a scene portraying the self-immolation of Jan Palach, presents a suggestive panorama of Czech society on the threshold of the oppressive twenty-year normalisation era. It centres on the female lawyer who defended Palach’s sacrifice in the wake of false allegations; in her judicial defeat, and in her moral victory, she represents the countless numbers of similar conflicts that arose between the individual and totalitarian power.


This three-part, almost four-hour-long project for HBO Europe will certainly be a major achievement of this line of Agnieszka Holland’s work, in which she urgently addresses the moral aspects of human behaviour and decision-making. The cornerstone of this pointed analysis of the socio-political situation which developed in the first few years after August 1968, is the pivotal sacrifice of Jan Palach, now etched in history. By setting himself on fire in January 1969 he wanted to rouse people from the lethargy which had already begun to descend upon them under the pressure of mounting totalitarian practices, and to call upon them to take responsibility for the fate of their nation. The specific events of one chapter of recent Czechoslovak history are here evoked as a stirring, grim drama involving a host of vividly depicted individuals, a drama in which those who acknowledge Palach’s legacy are left to face difficult ordeals. At the same time, however, the film grows into a timeless and universal statement of the loneliness of the courageous, and of the continual need to choose between good and evil.

About the director

Agnieszka Holland (b. 1948, Warsaw) began making her incisive film testimonies in Poland a few years after graduating as a director from FAMU (1971). She worked closely with Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda, coming close to the latter in her focus on artistic and eloquent expression, in the tragic conception of her heroes, and in the ethos underlying her work. The films from her Polish era (Sunday Children, 1976; Provincial Actors, 1978; A Lonely Woman, 1981) have a greater air of authenticity and are more bleak than those she has made in Europe and America over the past three decades; all of them, however, portray the unequal struggle of the individual against the oppression of the era and of society, and against our own inner conflicts (Angry Harvest, 1985; Europa, Europa, 1990; Total Eclipse, 1995; In Darkness, 2011). Today she is a leading figure of world film.


HBO Europe
Jankovcova 1037/49, 170 00, Praha 7
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 261 094 444
Fax: +420 261 094 455

Beta Film GmbH
Gruenwalder Weg 28d, 82041, München
Tel: +49 89 673 469
Fax: +49 89 673 469

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Special Events
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Screenplay: Štěpán Hulík
Dir. of Photography: Martin Štrba
Music: Antoni Komasa-Lazarkarkiewicz
Editor: Pavel Hrdlička
Producer: Tereza Polachová
Production: HBO Europe
Cast: Tatiana Pauhofová, Jaroslava Pokorná, Petr Stach, Jan Budař, Ivan Trojan, Igor Bareš, Vojtěch Kotek, Adrian Jastraban, Martin Huba
Contact: HBO Europe, Beta Film GmbH
Distributor: HBO Europe


Agnieszka Holland

Film Director

Ondřej Zach

TV Representative

Táňa Pauhofová


Štěpán Hulík


Martin Štrba

Director of Photography, Film Director

Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz

Music Composer

Tomáš Hrubý


Pavla Janoušková Kubečková


Patrik Děrgel


Ivan Trojan


Jenovéfa Boková


Tereza Polachová



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