This used to be a deep dark forest, now it’s a housing estate of prefabricated apartment buildings. The home of the protagonist, a manual worker painting roofs, whom everyone just calls Vandam. He lives alone in a housing estate apartment in the suburbs of Prague, working out every day to stay in shape. The evenings are spent drinking beer with his chums at the local pub, the North Star. Vandam’s chums from the North Star dub him their “national hero”. According to a local legend, Vandam took part in the demonstration on the National Street in Prague on 17 November, 1989, where – according to the legend – he set history into motion by dealing the first blow.
Česká televize, 42film GmbH, ZDF – Das Kleine Fernsehspiel
Státní fond kinematografie, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Eurimages
26. 9. 2019
Cast & Crew
Jaroslav Rudiš, Štěpán Altrichter
Hynek Čermák, Kateřina Janečková, Jan Cina, Václav Neužil, Jiří Langmajer, Jiří Šoch, Martin Sobotka, Erika Stárková, Lubor Šplíchal, Andrej Polák, Martin Siničák a další
Reentko Dirks, Clemens Christian Poetzsch
Sebastian Schmidt, Florian Marquardt, Ivan Horák
About the film
Rudiš cowrote the script with Štěpan Altrichter, a FAMU and HFF Postdam-Babelsberg alumnus who helms the project as director. Altrichter’s adaptation of National Street follows his graduation film, the German-Czech coproduction titled Schmitke, which was introduced at the Busan Film Festival in 2015 and doubled as his feature debut. It was promising enough to earn him the Czech Film and Television Academy’s Discovery of the Year Award.
Altrichter was immersed in preproduction work on his ambitious (“and,” he says, “much more experimental”) project Runner when Pavel Strnad of Negativ approached him about adapting Rudiš’s novel for the screen.
“The story revolves around a certain type of frustration, plus it’s also about the search for an identity,” says Rudiš of National Street. “Vandam reflects a world transformed. He’s definitely not one of the winners of the Velvet Revolution.” Transitioning the story to the big screen required tremendous skill to preserve the ambivalent nature of its main character, a charismatic narrator who revels in antisocial behavior. This ambivalence permeates the entire film, an irreverent and testosterone-fueled comedy that remains at its core a realistic social drama.