HBO Europe to air first original mini-series, hopeful for wider distribution

HBO Europe will air its first move into big-budget original mini-series, the Agnieszka Holland-directed three-part Burning Bush, on HBO Czech Republic from next Sunday, following a theatrical showing of the first part to an invited audience in Prague this Wednesday.

Burning Bush, whose storyline deals with the aftermath of the self-immolation of student Jan Palach in Prague in 1969 in protest against the Russian invasion of the country the previous August, will also have a threatrical premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival on January 30 and will be shown at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic later this year.

As well as airing on HBO services in central and eastern Europe, the broadcaster is hopeful that the series will also secure distribution in western Europe and further afield.

At a press event in Prague at which the series was shown in full, Antony Root, vice-president, original programming and production, HBO Europe, said, “We are very hopeful that we will arrange distribution in western Europe, and we were very excited to learn that our confrères in the US were excited about it.”

Speaking to DTVE, HBO Europe CEO Linda Jensen said the HBO in the US had so far declined to relinquish its right of first refusal on the show.

Burning Bush was fully funded by HBO Europe with some support from the Czech ministry of culture.

Root said that HBO Europe would look to develop further high-profile series in the region. “Our job is to find space in the schedule, the funding and the local talent and create a framework and environment in which they can do work they can’t do on public TV or commercial TV.”

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