Avenue of the Giants, a WWII drama that filmed in Prague and other locations in the Czech Republic last summer under the title of Lucky Man, has wrapped production in the United States, producers report from this year’s Cannes film festival. The film is reportedly eyeing a 2024 theatrical release after touring the festival circuit later this year.
Based on the true story of Herbert Heller, Avenue of the Giants stars Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don’t Breathe) as an Auschwitz survivor who kept his experiences as a young boy in the Nazi concentration camp hidden from his family until 2004, when he meets a teenager who has his own brush with death and finally opens up.
The film co-stars Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade), Robin Weigert (Deadwood) and Luke David Blumm (Where the Crawdads Sing). Flashback scenes set during WWII shot in the Czech Republic last summer, followed by scenes set in early-2000s California that were filmed on location.
The titular Avenue of the Giants refers to the famed tree-lined alley in California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park that presumably figures into the film’s storyline.
Written and directed by Finn Taylor, Avenue of the Giants is produced by Jeanine Thomas and George Rush, with Debi Memmolo, Greg Taxin and Noah Lang serving as executive producers.
“The journey of this film for me began in 2018 when I had the pleasure of seeing Herbert share his story with a gym full of teens, their ubiquitous cell phones silent,” director Taylor says through a press release.
“It was not only the story of someone taken to the camps at age twelve, who escaped Auschwitz and the Birkenau death march at the age of 15, but also how he lived with this traumatic secret for 60 years. I knew then, the huge task at hand.”
“Herbert sadly left our world last year but his message of kindness and tolerance perseveres through his actions, and now our film. I believe that sharing his story of survival, and the power of healing he left in his wake, is more important to the world today than ever.”
Under the title Lucky Man, Avenue of the Giants filmed in Prague’s city center last June, with locations in Old Town and Malá Strana standing in for areas of WWII-era Europe. In addition to Prague, Avenue of the Giants also shot in the nearby villages of Kněževes and Chrášťany as well as Postoloprty and Ploskovice in the Ústí nad Labem Region.
Filming for Avenue of the Giants also took place in Terezín, a former military fortress that served as a notorious Jewish ghetto during WWII. A total of about 33,000 people died at Terezín during the war, with an additional 88,000 inhabitants transported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps.
Prague’s Stillking Films, represented by David Minkowski and Matthew Stillman, co-produced Avenue of the Giants alongside Jennifer Goshay, Michael Manasseri, Jeffrey Brown and Mirka Taylor.