New nature documentary shows ‘wild’ side of Prague

A new documentary showcasing the wildlife living right in Czechia’s capital city is now out in cinemas. With epic music and the voiceover of well-known Czech actor Jiří Macháček, the film features several Prague locations, but in a way you’ve never seen them before.

Jan Hošek | Photo: Czech Television

The new documentary Planet Prague (Planeta Praha) has an unusual cast of characters, made up of the animals and birds that share the city with its inhabitants – often without their knowledge. Including the mouflon (a type of wild sheep) and the dormouse, the film shows how animals have made their homes in the city, sometimes against the odds. Director Jan Hošek explains how the animal and bird species that star in the film were chosen:

“The animals had to fulfil certain criteria. First of all, they had to be animals that it was even possible to film at all. Then the animal had to be visually interesting, and we also tried to make sure the range of animals included in the film was suitably diverse, so we had one large furry animal, one small furry animal, one ground nesting bird and one water bird. And last but not least, we tried to make sure the four “stars” of the film represented different strategies that animals use to survive in the city.”

Photo: Ondřej Prosický,  Planeta Praha

As well as the animals, the city of Prague itself features prominently in the documentary, including well-known locations such as the Jewish cemetery, Petřín hill, and the Vltava embankment, as well as less photogenic locales such as a city construction site. Director Jan Hošek again:

Photo: Ondřej Prosický,  Planeta Praha

“We tried to make sure that the locations included in the film were famous ones that even people who aren’t from Prague could recognise. However, at the same time we were careful not to include any shots that would inadvertently make those who know Prague well laugh, like for example with the newly-released Ryan Gosling film ‘The Gray Man’, which was partly shot in Prague and which probably raised a wry smile among the locals.”

The filmmakers collaborated with a number of wildlife experts to try to find interesting stories from the animal kingdom, while still staying true to reality by capturing the animals’ daily lives in their natural environment.

Photo: Ondřej Prosický,  Planeta Praha

“We had a principle that we tried to stick to, which was that we wouldn’t make anything up, that we would always start from the point of what actually happened, what is proven, what isn’t some unusual occurrence. But it isn’t always possible to capture animal behaviour in a natural environment with a film camera, so sometimes we had to help them a little, but we always stuck to the principle that we wouldn’t distort reality in any way.”

Planeta Praha is out in cinemas now. Bio Oko and Kino Světozor are among the theatres that have screenings with English subtitles.