The key film event in Czech Republic capital Prague, FEBIOFEST hosted a tribute in 2015 to British producer Mike Downey, CEO and co-founder of London-based Film and Music Entertainment to honour his contribution to European cinema.
Febiofest presented five of Downey's productions, including Peter Greenaway's historical-biographical picture, Goltzius and the Pelican Company; The President (2014) about the last day of a fallen dictator was directed by a famous Iranian director, who has won awards in Cannes and Venice, Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Downey also will also present Ben Hopkins' comedy, Lost in Karastan, which is an absurd satire on the topic of dictatorship, with the script co-written by the recent IDA Oscar winner,
Pawel Pawlikowski as well as Darko Lungulov’s Monument to Michael Jackson which he exec-produced.
"It’s a huge honour to be asked to participate in an event like this, and in one of my favourite cities in the world," says Downey who is currently mid-selection for the two festivals Motovun and Pula that he also curates, " I feel as if I have been making films for a very short period of time, and to be honoured here as well as in Fort Lauderdale last year bears witness to the fact that been very active in Europe and we will continue to be so operating from our base in London and engaging in
what our own brand of World Cinema from there."
With that in mind Downey's section also included Breathe-Umphefumlo by Mark Dornford-May, which was awarded at the 2015 Berlinale for its music. The South-African based filmmaker expands on his successful adaptation of Bizet's Carmen, which earned him the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2005. This time, he has adapted Puccini's La Boheme, transposed to the township environment of today's South Africa. The production is made with the Isango company, an opera company based in Khayelitsha on whose
board Downey serves along with Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Simon Rattle, Alan Rickman and Stephen Daldry.
Downey was not stranger to Prague as he has participated in a number of films which have been local co-production projects, the first was Rajko Grlic’s Josephine, followed by Sebastian Niemann’s Seven Days to Live, Juraj Jakubisko’s Bathory, Jamie Bell starrer Deathwatch and more recently Alice Neelis’ Angels.
Downey's visit is also connected with a protest event, Freedom for Sentsov. Downey has been at the vanguard of the Free Oleg Sentsov Campaign, alongside EFA Chairman Agnieszka Holland, and continues to work for his release.
Stop the press!