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Czech Republic, 2000 (MIFF 2001, International Panorama)

Director: Jan Svankmajer

With shades of David Lynch's Eraserhead, Jan Svankmajers Little Otik is an astonishing modern adaptation of a traditional Czech fairy-tale. Karel, the husband of a barren couple, attempts to console his wife, Bozena. by presenting her with a deformed tree stump as a substitute for a child. Bozena takes her newfound child willingly to her breast and becomes obsessed with its care. Svankmajer's tale turns nasty when the effigy takes on a life of its own.

The work of Svankmajer. die-hard surrealist and prolific animator, was last seen at MIFF 1997 in Conspirators Of Pleasure. Powerful and provocative Uttle Otik is more Rosemary's Baby than Pinnochio, closer to Basket Case than Frankenstein. Otik's voracious appetite soon stretches beyond mother's milk to include a cat, a social worker, and several other unsuspecting citizens of Prague. Only neighbouring child Alzbetka—with her open mind and belief in the extraordinary—is clever enough to realise that the odd activities next door are extremely similar to those foretold in Otesanek, a gruesome legend. She befriends Otik and must try to save him from the threat of the calculating and fearful adults surrounding him. A fantastical journey into an imaginary world.

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