04-07-2009

Karlovy Vary East of the West: El Paso

El Paso (www.ceskatelevize.cz/specialy/elpaso), a social drama based on a true story from contemporary Czech Republic, places a strong emphasis on the Czech Romany (as the Gypsy population is called) problem.

El Paso is directed by Zdeněk Tyc, known for the 2002 film Brats, another Romany story inspired by true events.

El Paso was produced by Ondřej Trojan and his Total Help Art Company (www.tha.cz ), co-produced by Česká televize (www.ceskatelevize.cz ), and distributed by Falcon (www.falcon.cz ). It premiered on March 18 in the Czech Republic. Despite its controversal subject matter, the film attracted several strong co-producers, including HBO (www.hbo.cz) and the post-production company UPP (www.upp.cz). Among the partners of the movie are Volvo (www.volvo.cz), Clinique cosmetics (www.clinique.com) and the Czech shoe company Bata (www.bata.cz) .

Tyc´s previous success with the similar film Brats (which received support from the Sundance Institute in 2000, and was shown in competition at Karlovy Vary and at the Istanbul IFF, where Tyc won the Best Director award) helped El Paso find financial support.

The State Fund for Support and Development of Czech Cinematography supported the movie with a grant of CZK 5 million (190,000 Euros) including CZK 2 million for distribution. The Media programme also supproted the movie. The budget of the movie is 710,000 Euros. The film was shot in spring, 2008. Although El Paso received very strong reviews locally, its serious subject kept it from becoming a box office success.

The story of a Romany mother of seven (acted by a non-actress Irena Horváthová), is similar to thousands of a true stories in the Czech Republic. A widow without financial means, she is moved to a small and dirty apartment and fights the social workers who try to take away her children, even though she appears as a caring mother despite rough living conditions.

Tyc shot the movies in authentic Romany exteriors, casting both professional actors (Linda Rybová, David Prachař) and non-pro Romanies.

"I had to return to a Romany story inspired by true events in which people don't speak of love, but live it. This subtly poetic story, combining experienced actors and Romany non-actors, stirs empathy within the mass of society for their 'other' fellow citizens. El Paso is a slang expression for attack, and we'd like - in a good way - to attack our viewers," Tyc said.

Although El Paso is based on a true story, Tyc mixed facts and fiction. "I did not want to shoot a documentary -- not at all. I wanted to have some hope in my movie, not only for my heroine Věra, but also for all viewers,' he said.

Contact information:


Total HelpArt T.H.A. (production)
Kříženeckého nám. 322, 152 53 Praha 5
Česká republika
Tel: +420 267 073 007
Fax: +420 267 073 836
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www: www.tha.cz

Falcon a.s. (distributor)
U Nikolajky 5/833, 150 00 Praha 5
Česká republika
Tel: +420 224 422 244
Fax: + 420 224 422 240
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www: www.falcon.cz

Last modified on 30-10-2009