30. August 2009

Czech and German filmmakers spent the day together June 10, visiting sites on both sides of the Czech-German border associated with the Cold War. More than 40 film professionals from both countries took part in the End of the Cold War Locations Tour, organized the FFF Film Commission Bayern in cooperation with the Czech Film Commission. The primary destinations of the tour were military bases in Čerchov, Czech Republic and Hoher Bogen, Germany. The tour was the tenth such event organized by the FFF Film Commission Bayern, which routinely invites producers, directors, screenwriters and other film professionals from Bavaria to visit specific and often remote locations. Among the German participants was producer Thomas Wöbke, whose many honors include an Oscar nomination for Beyond Silence (1996). He and other participants were looking for inspiration for projects which would be partially shot on Czech locations. “The location tour isn't just about finding potential locations for filming. It's also important for filmmakers to get to know the history of the places they visit and the stories connected to them, which can provide inspiration for material they are currently working on,” said Ludmila Claussová from the Czech Film Commission. Participants found stories in places like Bystřice, located in the middle of the forest along the highway from Folmava to Čerchov. Originally called Fichtenbach, the village was destroyed during the Second World War. In the 1950s, Czechoslovak border security commandeered some surviving farm buildings to use as a guard station. For decades the former village and the entire surrounding valley in the border zone and closed off. Now the property of the town of Domažlice, the  abandoned and dilapidated buildings now present exciting possibilities for filmmakers. “Several German producers told me that they would like to cooperate with our film commission on future projects with Czech-German themes,” Claussová said. “They were really intereste in Czech locations and in cooperating with our producers. I was only sorry that we didn't have more Czech filmmakers on the tour — maybe because this was the first one for them. Those who took part were excited by the possibilities, however. I'm already thinking of themes and regions for the next location tour.” Filmmakers were also impressed by the imposing complex of military towers and buildings at Hoher Bogen, which look as if they were created for a sci-fi or action film. Located on the Bavarian side of the border about 20 km from Čerchov, the site features a radio installation which German, French and American armies used to monitor Czech air space. In 2004, the German army left Hoher Bogen, which is now going to be converted into a hotel and museum. On the other side of the border stands Čerchov Mountain, whose 1042-meter peak is the highest of the Czech forest. The peak features a stone watchtower built in 1905 and several abandoned buildings which now belong to the city of Domažlice. Under socialism, Čerchov was used by the Czechoslovak and Soviet armies as well as the East German secret police. A military tower on the mountain built in the mid-1980s is still used by the army today. One Czech participant was producer Filip Hering. “In addition to the interesting locations which we had an opportunity to see, I was most impressed by the exceptional efforts of the Bavarians, who didn't hesitate a moment, even though there's no guaranteed outcome — no one can promise them that a film will actually come of this. I was amazed by how active the tourist association of Bavaria is,” Hering said. The Czech Film Commission is planing another location tour in autumn and is already seeking cooperation with several Czech regions and cities. “We want to work closely with the regions to help them imagine the possibilities which filmmaking can bring them in terms of economic contributions, employment and publicity. I hope we will find officials there as committed as those we met in Bavaria,” Claussová said. The Location Tour was organized by the FFF Film Commission Bayern a Media Welcome Services & Events (Bavaria Tourism) in cooperation with the Czech Film Commission. The parties extend their thanks to the management of the municipal forest of Domažlice.