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Interview with Viktor Polesny

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Interview with Viktor Polesny (Director)

Is it possible to describe An Innocent Man as a court drama, or rather as a criminal series dealing with an investigation?
I think it's kind of both. For a while, we follow the search for the killer, but gradually the judicial drama prevails, and with it a great social story.

How was the idea of An Innocent Man born and for how long did you devote yourself to the period materials during the study of the whole case before you started filming?
The screenplay, written by Václav Šašek, was on the table of the former main playwright for about ten years. Why so long, I do not know. I wanted to film it and only when the people in those positions changed and the playwright Helena Slavíková came, we started working on the material. This meant studying everything available. That was enough.

Was the series originally intended as a two-part production, or did this idea come about later when writing the screenplay or after shooting the material?
You will be amazed; it was originally a six-part series but the two parts are tighter and much more dramatic.

Why did you select Karel Heřmánek Jr for the main role? How did he convince you that he could be suitable for the part?
The cast is a very crucial matter. It pays off when the director knows the actors well, preferably from theater. Karel Heřmánek Jr. resembles Leopold Hilsner very much. But the question was whether he would manage to portray the development of this figure to a great tragic fate. From initial antipathy to certain compassion. Here the director must rely on his intuition, experience and ability to work with the actors. Karel was very shapely, focused, disciplined, and I think it paid off. He is an extremely sensitive and empathetic person. I enjoyed working with him. 

An Innocent Man is a historical series, and as such we must pay attention to historical fidelity. What was the most difficult part for you during the filming and did the production also have professional advisers?
We have been looking for a professional consultant for some time and we found a leading lawyer JUDr. Stanislav Balík, who is a real expert on this matter. He helped us a lot, especially in the production of the two large trials, Kutná Hora in 1899 and Písek a year later. We had to be very precise there. We obtained many excellent documents and materials from the museum in Polná.

*Courtesy of Czech Television

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