HBO, Barletta & Room One Films presents

THE NOONDAY WITCH

films | DIRECTED BY JIRI SADEK / WRITTEN BY MICHAL SAMIR

The Noonday Witch tells the story of a mother, Eliska, and her eight-year-old daughter, Anetka. They move into a remote country house to begin a new life together. Eliska insists that the girl’s father is simply ‘away on business’. But the daughter discovers the shocking truth and, realising her mother has deceived her, their relationship begins to wither. At that time, the mythical creature of The Noonday Witch begins to appear. As the terrifying figure closes in on the pair, a frightening question is posed. Is the danger real or is it all in the mother’s head?

Unnerving, chilling and deeply disturbing, The Noonday Witch combines stunning 35mm cinematography, elegant storytelling and dark themes of loss, grief and the power of self-delusion. Its powerful narrative and beautifully rendered characters leave a lasting impression on the mind of the viewer.

‘An atmosphere reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster.’

TOTALFILM

We sat down with the screenwriter of The Noonday Witch, Michal Samir, to find out more about this incredible new film.

“I don’t really like horror films. I don’t watch them. I have enough darkness as it is.”

Room One: The Noonday Witch is a horror film but there is a strong psychological undertone, particularly with the character of the mother. Can it be seen as an examination of the darkest parts of the human mind as well as a supernatural tale?

Michal Samir: It definitely balances on the edge between a horror film and a psychological thriller. Playing with the genres is something that can be observed even in my previous work. Yes, it is an exploration of the human psyche under extreme duress and the consequences of unwise decision. At the same time, however, it’s also a really simple tale about a ‘monster’ which might and might not be real. It’s fun.

RO: Given that the film probes such dark territory, was the process of writing it arduous for you? Did it force you to confront any personal childhood traumas?

MS: I don’t have childhood trauma! (laughs) No, listen, I don’t really like horror films. I don’t watch them. I have enough darkness as it is and I don’t need to fuel that fire anymore. What I mean is that observations of psychological processes and the natural dark side of me were, I guess, a good enough combination to put together a story like this.

RO: What are the roots of The Noonday Witch as a symbol of fear? Where does she come from?

MS: There is a poem called Polednice by K. J. Erben, talking about a monster that comes at noon and steals naughty children. You can find versions of that in many, mostly Slavic, cultures. The Noonwraith is what they call it in parts of Western Europe, I think. Anyway, this poem is very famous in the Czech Republic, everybody knows it, because they had to learn it in their secondary school days. Now, the poem is short, it takes two minutes to read, but it is beautifully crafted with one of the best twists ever at the end. I only took the basic premise though. A mother with a child, while the father is missing. It was just an inspiration. No way you could stretch a few rhymes into a feature film.

RO: The film has already been released in the Czech Republic and done extremely well. Where will The Noonday Witch appear next?

MS: At this stage, your guess is as good as mine. The film is still in cinemas in the Czech Republic and we are still planning its festival strategy. We’d like it to appear at Karlovy Vary IFF (International Film Festival) and we are in contact with several other interesting places, but it is too early to say.

RO: Did your knowledge of the Czech landscape inform your decisions in terms of the story’s setting? Does the scenery, beautiful though it is, lend itself to a macabre narrative?

MS: Absolutely. The Americans have their corn fields, the Scandinavians those frozen plains of nothing. In Czech, we have the wheat fields, which in summer, are extremely beautiful and easy to get lost in, especially for small kids. I grew up on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland in a village that had 200 people in total and everybody knew one another. I loved it. But even as a small kid I could sense that unnerving flipside of this seemingly lovely togetherness. There was something eerie about that solitude and silence anywhere you went. A lot of what happens in the film is actually based on real events or characters.

RO: Michal, thank you for your time.

MS: Thank you.

The Noonday Witch is a film produced by Barletta and co-produced by HBO, Room One Films, Falcon, SFK, RWE, UPP, Sound Square, eurodenik.cz and VSRR.

Variety

Out of sync nature provides another important motif, represented by parched fields of waving wheat, a drought whose like hasn’t been seen for 40 years, and even an eclipse.

FESTIVALS

KARLOVY VARY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

OLDENBURG FILM FESTIVAL

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

Producer

Barletta

Co-Producers

HBO

Euro Deník

State Cinematography Fund

RWE

vsrr

Sound Square

Falcon

UPP

TEAM

 

DIRECTOR: Jiri Sadek
SCREENPLAY, CO-DIRECTOR: Michal Samir
PRODUCER, CO-DIRECTOR: Matej Chlupacek
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Surkala
ART DIRECTOR: Jan Novotny
CASTING: Maja Hamplova
COSTUME DESIGNER: Jana Jurcova
MAKE-UP: Eva Ungrova
SOUND DESIGN: Petr Soupa, Viktor Prasil, Martin Jilek
EDITOR: Michal Lansky
MUSIC: Ben Corrigan
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Barletta
VIDEO POST-PRODUCTION: Upp
SOUND POSTPRODUCTION: Soundsquare
TECHNOLOGY: Kodak 35mm
CO-PRODUCERS: HBO, Falcon, Rwe, Statni Fond Kinematografie, Upp, Soundsquare, Eurodenik, Vsrr

CAST

 

Ana Geislerova
Karolina Lipowska
Daniela Kolarova
Jiri Strebl
Zdenek Mucha
Marie Ludvikova

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