The feature debut of writer and director Tomasz Mielnik was developed originally within MIDPOINT Shorts program in 2011, transitioning at the end of the day to a feature-length movie.
10 YEARS OF MIDPOINT: JOURNEY TO ROME
10 YEARS OF MIDPOINT
Journey to Rome / 2015 / Czech Republic, Poland
How Tomasz remembers the time at the workshop?
"The most important thing for me was the confrontation of my concept with people outside of FAMU and outside of the Czech Republic. It helps to find out, especially in the starting phase, how the broader audience will perceive the story, if it captures their interest or not. I find that very helpful when predicting how the finished film may affect the viewers. And after that, you are left to decide if you do or don't want to do something about it.
Didn't Holderlin say that poets should dedicate their first work of art not to the people but to gods?
Anyway, thanks to MIDPOINT, I had the honor to meet one of the gods – Jean-Claude Carriere. I remember like it was yesterday – we are sitting at the table, eating roasted salmon, drinking wine, the dean of FAMU Pavel Jech is filming with his mobile phone and with my horrible English, I'm telling Carriere – the biggest European scriptwriting legend – that I have a sort of hopeless script about a thief who steals a painting and then, somewhere in the middle or towards the end of the journey to Rome, disappears.
So we are discussing it there, within MIDPOINT, and I don't know how to deal or not deal with this disappearing issue. And he gives me one of his deep brown looks and asks: 'What kind of problem are you talking about, son? Sometimes, people just disappear after all. I remember an old Chinese tale about the emperor's army which wanted to imprison a disobedient painter. They found him at home, peacefully painting a landscape. As they wanted to capture him, he suddenly got up, jumped into his painting, this idyllic landscape, and run away, all the way beyond the horizon.'
Our dialogue ended with some memories of Bunuel, and the number of cigarettes he had smoked in one day... In the end, I found out that he didn't smoke that much."
Tomasz continues with the biggest festival successes of the film:
"The film was screened at KVIFF in 2015 within the East of the West section. I traveled with it to the Mill Valley Festival in California, Silk Road Festival in Fuzhou, China. It made it into the Critics Week Section at Cairo IFF, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2015 received an Audience Award in Lodz."
And what is Tomasz up to now:
"Together with producer Mikulas Novotny (Backgroundfilms), we are currently working on a film called Gregorius, the Chosen One (Vyvoleny). It's a medieval legend about a sinner who becomes a very important pope."
Vašek learns that he is dying, so he steals a painting and goes to Rome to sell it – he needs money for a healer. Sitting on a train with a fake mustache on his face, he has no idea that he has, in fact, been sent on a spiritual quest of his life by a beautiful girl. His pursuers look as if they were transported from a 1970’s movie, yet his attention is constantly drawn to the other passengers, who pull him into their own stories with no mercy. Vašek slowly gets lost in a colorful chaos of other people's destinies, opinions and his own dreams. In the end, his train will take some of them to hell, others to enlightenment or a bizarre epiphany. The film takes a humorous view on all the basic philosophical questions we have heard so many times but that we have yet to find the answers to.
Facebook page of the film:
Director and writer: Tomasz Mielnik
Cinematography: Jan Suster
Music: Martin Klusak
Editor: Simon Hajek
Art Director: Pavel Novy
Producer: Mikulas Novotny
Production: Background Films
Coproduction: Czech TV, FAMU - Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, EasyBusyProductions, Magiclab
Cast: Vaclav Hrzina, Petr Slavik, Berenika Kohoutova, Miroslav Donutil, Johana Svarcová, Juraj Herz