Burning Bush

by Agnieszka Holland

50th Anniversary of the Prague Spring 1968Based on actual events. Directed by Academy Award nominee Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness).

January 16th, 1969. University student Jan Palach sets himself on fire in Prague‘s Wenceslas Square in protest against the Soviet occupation. Fearing public unrest, Police Major Jireš starts an investigation into whether Jan was part of an organized group, and if others will soon follow in his footsteps. Defense attorney Dagmar Burešová is defending leaders of the student movement, who are preparing for the general strike to support Jan's protest. When Jan dies in the hospital, his funeral becomes the last massive act of public defiance against the occupation.Fearful of a popular uprising, the pro-Soviet government tries to discredit Jan's sacrifice, with communist MP Vilém Nový publicly stating that Jan‘s death was intended merely to be a staged act, organized by foreign secret services. Dagmar Burešová is asked byJan's mother and brother to represent them in court and sue Vilém Nový for defamation. That means officially accusing the pro-soviet government of lying…Dagmar forges ahead, but keeps running up against a wall of silence in her search for witnesses: the people are frightened of reprisals. Jan's mother is tormented by anonymous phone calls, and even Dagmar's husband, a hospital pediatrician, is fired from his post... Nový succeeds in having the trial repeatedly postponed; eight months after Jan's death, it finally begins. Dagmar doesn't know how the trial will end, but she does know that it will demand a great personal sacrifice from her.BURNING BUSH is a three-part film created for HBO by world-renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Based on real characters and events, this haunting drama focuses on the personal sacrifice of a Prague history student, Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969.Dagmar Burešová, a young female lawyer, became part of his legacy by acting for Jan's family in the legal case against the communist government, a regime which tried to dishonor Palach's sacrifice, a heroic action for the freedom of Czechoslovakia. Jan and Dagmar's story is one of basic human values, truth, honor, justice and courage. The fight for freedom and moral principles in those desperate times led to the moral unification of a repressed nation, which twenty years later defeated the totalitarian regime. The anniversary of Jan Palach's death inspired a new generation of students to start protests that led to the eventual fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, part of the eventual destruction of the Iron Curtain.Lawyer Dagmar Burešová, who spent her life representing dissident opposition leaders, became the first Minister of Justice in a free Czechoslovakia. Three part event

Genre / Language / Length
Drama / Czech / 80 minutes
Original title
The Burning Bush
directed by
produced by
HBO Europe, Nut Produkce and Etamp Film Production Executive producers HBO - Antony Root, Tereza PolachováProducers nutprodukce - Tomáš Hrubý, Pavla KubeckováDirector of Photgraphy - Martin ŠtrbaEditor - Pavel HrdlickaSound - Petr CechákCostume designer - Katarína HolláProduction designer - Milan BýcekLine producer Etamp - Jan BílekMake-up artist - Zdenek KlikaMusic composer - Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz
  • Tatiana Pauhofová
  • Jaroslav Pokorná
  • Petr Stach
  • Jan Budar
  • Ivan Trojan
  • Denny Ratajský

Press Quotes

„Burning Bush“ manages to be genuinely moving... the film possesses a universal and lifelike dimension ... a master class in modern historical drama... historical details are impeccable. „Burning Bush“ is filled with sumptuous realizations that fitted the big screen elegantly. It accommodates perfectly a complex narrative that makes the most of its duration to distil an embroiled and realistic story. „Burning Bush“ offers a precious insight into how history can, and perhaps should, be narrated on screen, whether that screen be small or big.