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The Karamazov Brothers

Petr Zelenka
Czech Republic, Poland 2008 / 110’

A theatre company from Prague arrives in Cracow to present a stage adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazovat the city's alternative drama festival; the production is to be staged in an unusual venue - the local steelworks. As rehearsals get under way, we follow not only the emotional story examining issues of faith, immortality and the salvation of the human soul, but also the relationships within the acting troupe itself, which strangely reflect Dostoevsky's "great" themes. The stage drama is transferred to the real world when a tragedy occurs during rehearsal involving one of the spectators... "My interest lies in the responsibility of the intellectual for the ideas he himself proclaims to a society which has lost its faith in God and thus also its basic moral instincts," says director Petr Zelenka. In both his chosen theme and form, the filmmaker has come up with an exceptional piece, oscillating between fiction and documentary and centred on the successful production presented by Prague's Dejvice Theatre. The play was directed by Lukáš Hlavica and based on the famous dramatisation by Evald Schorm at Na zábradlí theatre.

Karlovy Vary IFF 2008


Czech Lions 2009 - Best Film, Best Director; Karlovy Vary IFF 2008 - FIPRESCI Prize, Special Mention

Petr Zelenka

Petr Zelenka is a Czech playwright, screenwriter, and film and theater director. In his early youth, he was a bass player and songwriter for the punk band V noci (At Night). He made his first attempts at film in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the Faculty of Film and Television at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. After completing his studies, he worked as a playwright at Barrandov Studios and made films for Czech Television. He made his debut with the mockumentary Mňága - Happy End, a fictional story about the real-life band Mňága a Zdorp, which managed to elude the control of the major record labels. His Buttoners, which won five Czech Lions, brought him international acclaim after being screened at festivals in Thessaloniki and Valladolid. He also wrote the screenplay for David Ondříček's hugely popular film Loners. He is also known for the stage play Tales of Common Insanity, which he wrote and directed for Prague's Teatr Dejvicki in 2001 (it has been translated into many languages and performed in England, Japan, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Hungary, and Slovakia, among other places). Another of his plays, Coming Clean, was written for the Stary Theater in Krakow, which also provided the setting for his own version of The Brothers Karamazov, set an abandoned factory in Nowa Huta. Zelenka is known for his black humor and uninhibited imagination, as well as his ability to portray people teetering between mediocrity and madness.

Selected filmography

1996 Mňága - Happy End

1997 Guzikowcy / Knoflíkári / Buttoners

2002 Rok diabła / Rok ďábla / Year of the Devil

2008 Bracia Karamazow / Karamazovi / The Karamazovs

2015 Zagubieni / Ztraceni v Mnichově / Lost in Munich

Cast & Crew

director Petr Zelenka
screenplay Petr Zelenka
cinematography Alexander Surkala
editing Vladimír Barák
music Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
cast Martin Mysicka, Ivan Trojan, Radek Holub, Igor Chmela, Roman Luknár
producer Cestmír Kopecky and Warsaw Pact Film Production
production Ceská Televize, Euroimages Fund of the Council of Europe, První Verejnoprávní, Polish Film Institute
sales ATM
language Czech, Polish
colouration colour