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  • The Cowards

    V edition

    The Cowards

    May 1945. A small Czech town near the German border. Danny (18) is waiting for the uprising at the end of the German occupation, which he hopes will be an entertaining event. His father, disabled from the First World War, hopes that Danny will fight if it becomes necessary. However, Danny thinks more about his saxophone and Irena, who unfortunately is in love with Zdeněk.
    Danny and his friends sign up with the army that is being put together by the local bourgeoisie in the brewery. They bring in stolen German weapons, which the commanders confiscate. The boys embark on an unarmed foot patrol around town. They surprise the lover of the military commander’s unfaithful wife, and rumble with the communists who want to launch their own more violent kind of uprising. Danny loses interest in the army. He deserts it at night, and goes to visit Mici. She would like to make love with Danny, but unnerved by her eagerness he runs away home. His father is disappointed that Danny has left the army. He had a pistol for him that he had hidden from the Germans.

    Allegedly the Red Army is approaching. But instead, SS tanks roll into town and a gun fight breaks out. Mici is killed in front of Danny’s eyes. At the brewery the communists assume command of the army and they head into the forest to pursue the fleeing Germans. Danny is trembling so much he can’t even load his own gun. His friend Benno is dead while taking photographs of the battle. Danny goes back into town where he encounters a young German prisoner, and in self defence kills him with his father’s gun. His friend Přema has a heavy machine gun at home and he and Danny use it to take out a German tank. The Germans charge them, but at the last moment they are saved by a Red Army unit. Danny doesn’t want to be celebrated as a hero, so he doesn’t give his real name. He doesn’t even tell his father what happened. But his father understands everything and is proud of him. Danny has grown up; he has become his father’s son.

    Peace breaks out. Irena is crying because Zdeněk hasn’t returned. Danny doesn’t tell her that Zdeněk has been seriously wounded, and he goes to look for him at the brewery, where a collaborator named Krpata is torturing and murdering German prisoners.
    Danny comforts Irena, and she is finally responding to him, but the romantic atmosphere is ruined by Zdeněk’s unexpected return.
    The town is celebrating with speeches and awards. There’s even one for Zdeněk.
    Danny’s band is playing American jazz, with a Soviet general looking on in distaste. People are dancing and rejoicing. This is the arrival of freedom, but also the end of the old world and the old order.

    Czech Republic

    Andrea Sedláčková

    Andrea Sedláčková studied Screenwriting at Prague Film Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) before immigrating to France in 1989, where she studied Editing and Directing at FEMIS Film Academy in Paris. She made several documentaries and TV films for Czech TV. In 2000 she wrote and directed her feature debut “Victims and Murderers“. In France she has been working as an editor on a number of feature films, among others on the Oscar-nominated drama “Joyeux Noël“ by Christian Carion.

    Udayan Prasad

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    BAFTA nominated, director of “My Son the Fanatic”, “The Yellow Hankerchief” and ”Opa!”, 5th edition ScripTeast creative advisor, UK

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    ScripTeast Head of Studies, Associate Professor – Screenwriting and Production at School of Cinematic Arts, USC, screenwriter and director, author of the script for the Oscar-nominated film “Shoeshine”, USA

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