The Painted Bird

Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s 1965 novel and a long time in the making, Václav Marhoul’s extraordinary The Painted Bird finds a lone Jewish boy on a dark odyssey towards home during wartime.

Dir-Prod-Scr Václav Marhoul
With Harvey Keitel, Petr Kotlár, Stellan Skarsgård
Czech Republic-Slovakia-Ukraine
Sales Celluloid Dreams
With English subtitles

A boy (Petr Kotlár) is sent to his aunt to protect him from the Nazis; when she dies unexpectedly, he’s propelled on a bleak journey across Central Europe – from one brutal encounter to the next. Shot in starkly beautiful 35mm black and white by Kolya cinematographer Vladimír Smutný, The Painted Bird’s textures recall both the crispness of The Bicycle Thief and squalor of Aleksei German’s Hard to be a God. Featuring several standout cameos (Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier), Marhoul’s darkly magnificent Venice Film Festival competitor is sumptuously crafted, though rarely an easy watch, with scenes some will find distressing. A terrifying and highly relevant exploration of what humanity looks like when there is only vicious survival, with little space for compassion.

Tricia Tuttle

Festival guests

This member of the filmmaking team is expected to attend the festival:

  • Václav Marhoul, director.

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.

Filmmaker’s attendance made possible thanks to the Czech Centre.

Additional information

This is a 18+ screening.