Primetime

Wasteland

Ivan Zachariás, Alice Nellis

Already struggling to survive in the modern economy, a small Czech town is hit by tragedy in this sprawling mystery miniseries from the team behind Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush.

In the recent renaissance of television programming coming from Eastern Europe, it seems that each new series is better than the last. The trend continues with the Czech thriller Wasteland.

Set in a small town in northern Bohemia, Wasteland tells the story of a coal mining village torn apart by greed and secrets. Crushed by financial problems, with their tiny and vulnerable economy on the brink of collapse, the town's residents are faced with a difficult dilemma — whether to sell their homes to a coal company that wants the natural resources underground, or stick it out in a near-hopeless situation. At the centre of it all is an ambitious mayor who seeks to hold true to their way of life. But it isn't long before strange events start occurring. First the locals find dead animals hanging from trees... and then the mayor's daughter goes missing. The town embarks on a search, but they'll find something other than what they're looking for: long-buried truths tucked away in the deepest, darkest parts of the woods.

Created by writer Stepán Hulík, who also scripted Agnieszka Holland's Burning Bush, the miniseries is one of HBO Europe's most ambitious projects to date. Directors Ivan Zachariás and Alice Nellis eschew the common tropes of self-contained serialized episodes, treating Wasteland more as a single long-form piece of cinematic storytelling. While leaving room for moments of alluring strangeness, they ratchet up the tension incrementally across the eight episodes, building to a searing conclusion. At the same time, the show's gritty social realism provides an expansive view of conflicts — ones of class, gender, and heritage — that will resonate powerfully long after the final frame.

All eight episodes of Wasteland will be screened, with two intermissions.

MICHAEL LERMAN

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location_on Scotiabank 7

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