The film, which had combined admissions of 1.3 million in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, reached block-buster status following its premiere at the 2008 Karlovy Vary film festival (www.kviff.com). Its success gave rise to the term "Bathory effect," referring to a resurgence in Slovak interest in domestic films, and it entered the record books as the most successful film in Slovak cinema history.
In Hungary, the film will be distributed on 26 prints, with a national theatrical release beginning on January 20.
The films success must be attributed to the professional and personal partnership of its creative team, director Juraj Jakubisko and his producer/actress wife Deana Jakubisková-Horváthová.Their combination of artistry and professional drive guided the film from its first record-breaking status as the most expensive Central European film every produced (at over 13 million Euros), to an expanding list of foreign sales now at some 50 countries worldwide. Along the way, accolades for the directory are accumulating non-stop.
If Slovak national treasure Juraj Jakubisko hadn't chosen to make his name as a film director, he would certainly be ranked as one of the country's leading artists. His original artistic vision and painterly eye have been evident since his first films, dating from the 1960's. Free-spirited, rebellious, and filled with fantasy, the films earned Jakubisko the sobriquet of the Fellini of the East. His later films tackled epic subjects, with an accompanying richer visual palette. Bathory is a prime example of the director's talents, not only in the obvious categories such as costuming or set decoration. Jakubisko is also the artist behind the striking pianting created by Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, who appears as a character in the film. It hangs in the foyer of Jakubisko Films, the couple's production company, a testament to the director's prodigious painting talents.
Never one to folllow convention, Jakubisko (who co-wrote the script) re-imagines the infamous Hungarian countess Erzsébet Bathory, more commonly considered an inspiration for the legend of the blood-drinking Dracula due to her fondness for bathing in the blood of young women. In the Jakubisko version, the countess is presented as a victim, of territorial battles, of the men who desire the youthful-looking beauty, and of a witch doctor, played by Jakubisková-Horváthová.
Jakubisková-Horváthová, who was responsible for the the p.r. campaign that landed the film at the top of the Slovak and Czech box office charts, will handle distribution in Hungary.