world of shorts
slovak short cinema
a shortfilm magazine published by daazo.com - the european shortfilm centre
best slovak shorts WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 1
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Tearing down inner barriers: Miro Remo
Slovak filmmaking today
is like a 10 Drawing conversation: Veronika Obertová & Michaela Čopíková
New Slovak films: short film critiques
through mutual undiscovered faces 42 Freedom 44 The understanding: Peter of Slovak documentary Budinský’s works
film: Peter Kováčik
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is power in verity: 14 There Teodor Kuhn
the essence: 40 Animating Feel Me Film production company
the Slovak filmmakers: 46 Meet a new generation of storytellers
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Michal Klembara, Juraj Kovalčík
pattern by Cristina Grosan
The seventh issue of the World of Shorts magazine is, unlike previous issues, dedicated to films from just one country, Slovakia. Slovakian film production, in general, doesn’t have a widespread reputation, although it doesn’t lack interesting works and talented filmmakers. We hope this edition will give you an overview of some of the films and authors worth following.
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Short film has in the last few years achieved a unique position in Slovak cinema. It is the most vibrant and the most representative segment of the local film production market. So it deserves much more appreciation than it used to get before. You may have already seen some of the films included here at your festivals of choice, not realizing that they were made in Slovakia. We are very grateful for all the support and collaboration of our friends from Daazo.com, who provided us with a chance to make this special edition of their magazine World of Shorts, subtitled Slovak Short Cinema. That is also the title of our expanded project for the promotion of Slovak short films abroad, which includes a channel at Daazo.com, where you can find many of the films mentioned in this issue, and much more besides. The attention is split equally between live action, documentary and animation. In addition to reviews, we bring you both proper- and miniinterviews revealing filmmakers’ personalities, their opinions, as well as their dreams and concerns, so as to make them more familiar, rather than just weird names on a list. The third category of articles could be roughly labelled as short features or, better yet, profiles.
Our intention is, as stated: to spread the renown of Slovak shorts across Europe, to make them more accessible for you and to recruit some new fans for our most unassuming yet overachieving filmmakers.
“Short film has in the last few years achieved a unique position in Slovak cinema. It is the most vibrant and the most representative segment of the local film production market. So it deserves much more appreciation than it used to get before. You may have already seen some of the films included here at your festivals of choice, not realizing that they were made in Slovakia.“
Our selected time-span covers contemporary works, mostly from the last three years. Some of them have already been widely recognized for their artistic qualities, like the documentary Arsy-Versy by Miro Remo or the experimental animation The Last Bus by Ivana Laučíková and Martin Snopek. Some have just been finished and are looking for their audience, like the coming-of-age story of Momo by Teodor Kuhn.
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Tearing down inner barriers Deciding a date for an interview with Miro Remo didn’t go completely smoothly, not because he was reluctant - just very busy. Eventually, we settled for a late evening online chat, a novel arrangement for me that made me expect that both of us would be tired and the conversation cumbersome. Instead, Miro accepted and answered every question thoughtfully, practically till midnight, providing me with plenty of material to puzzle over. I should add I like puzzling over things. interview
Although you graduated with a documentary to emotions. But time always reveals the plain film, you have been combining fiction film truth. practices with documentary since Studený spoj (Cold Joint, 2007). What do you gain with this So film is more truthful, because it allows for a mix? distance? Do I get it right? Miro Remo: I make things such as to be satisfied, it seems natural to mix them. If you can say that it is mixed. To me it’s a film - not a fiction, not a documentary, just a story. I don’t draw the line. If I did (just to answer your question), I would certainly gain more ways to tell the story. You can’t always depict everything by recording real events. I like those most. In one interview regarding your in-production film Comeback you say: “Film is in my view more ingenuous than life. [In film] it has to be pure.” That is a rather idiomatic approach to the relation of filmmaking and reality. Yeah, in film you have time to realize everything time and again, in life you often give in
Film is, or let’s say, can be more truthful. Seeing through it brings the distance and a view of reality that is widely distorted by emotions. It has to do with the distance, too. Let me put it this way: ‘pure’ means bright, clear, without lies... Life gives more room to mistakes, in film this element should be absent. Film then can become an oasis, paradise, where everything is pure. This purity exists even in obviously negative things, or at least I look for it inside a man. In reality maybe I wouldn’t give him a chance, but I do within film. So I can get further. Film tears down a barrier within me, it’s more honest and clearer.
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Yeah, I used that too, gladly. In Cold Joint, Arsy-Versy, Osmičkári (8 mm, 2011) you have made Ladce, your native village, look as a visually very rich and heterogenous place. Your next work Comeback will be set in the nearby I don’t mind that they see it this way. I know Ilava jail. Do you have a penchant for your ‘naabout this sentiment, but I don’t linger over it tive land’? anymore, I don’t think I should. It’s what I do. Genre differences mean nothing to me, crucial Yes, I do, intensely. It’s the people I grew with, is a conviction that we have succeeded, a sat- the people I know, no fumbling, no searching, isfaction with how the film looks, what it says, just following the subject, which is life. There what glows from it. Without an inner satisfac- is no need for fabrication, even if it may look tion you can hardly finish the film. like it is staged, it just happens. When you are familiar with it, you can choose better. Do you have any relation to fairy tales or mythical Moreover, I have a feeling that I’m still a part stories? of the same whole, the same feeling as in the childhood, still going on. I had an extremely Not really, but I prefer fairy tales to mythical stolively childhood and a rather crazy adolesries. I never liked those, I haven’t seen the Lord cence, maybe it’s like that in Ladce. One can of the Rings or Harry Potter. I preferred Home Alone and Neverending Story – but there is a bit still draw from that. I think of making a film of myth. I replaced the mythical with sci-fi films about my generation, then more and more. and PC games. It can be ‘controversial’ in that if you consider story to be important in expressing all the truth about someone or something, some can see it as a fabrication.
RPG? Strategies, Dune 2, KknD, I didn’t like Warcraft, but I played Diablo 1. But not Diablo 2. I long for reality, and scientific progress. I don’t believe in magic and witchcraft. So you have a pronouncedly rational worldview and you inject it into your work.
Miro Remo on set
So you still feel as a part of that community? I believe there is something beyond what we perceive, but I am rational and yes, it has to be Yes, perhaps I will be a proud hillbilly forever, reflected in my films. a Ladcan. Although I live in Bratislava now... OK, back to the films. So far the most successful and notorious of your films has been Arsy-Versy (2009). I’m not going to analyze it once again, there is a review for that. But there is one thing. Festival juries usually give a short reasoning. Were these reasonings similar, with repeated statements? Or do you remember any outstanding commentary? Maybe I could find something on the web, but basically everybody was impressed that an apparent nutcase showed an alternative view of this world. That was quite universal and everybody grasped it. The fool is not so much of a fool. And maybe we are the fools. I think that could echo with the people.
I think I know what you mean. I come from a village in Eastern Slovakia. I have been living in Trnava (a town near Bratislava) for eight years now, but I still feel my home is there. Although it’s tougher for natives, beause many young people run away for jobs. Ladce is specific in that most people stayed there. You can make a living there, it’s better than in the East. So you can meet people, not just at Christmas or All Saints’ Day. And the next generations that I didn’t pay much attention to before, are coming of age and hanging with us.
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Most of high school grads and about a half of those with an academic degree stayed. We are a big group. And in the group you can record. Their candidness still surprises me, we are in the same boat, we trust each other... that’s a great prerequisite for a film. I wish the Audiovisual Fund understood it, too. In your TV portrait of Tibor Huszár (an emi- On set nent Slovak photographer) part of the material comes from a digital camera he was wearing Another controversion I have found was your on himself. Didn’t he have any objections? He’s film of Pohoda (2011), the largest open-air music festival in Slovakia. It comes across as a harmknown to dislike digital photography. less mosaic of the peaceful summer event, yet it No, he didn’t, I convinced him that it’s to make wasn’t screened at the festival and allegedly they the film better. He was rather delighted when banned its screening elsewhere, too. Is it true? If so, why is that? I introduced the idea. Tibor didn’t know us, only afterwards did someone tell him that we That’s how it comes across to me, too. For Mišo had made Arsy-Versy and won prizes with it. (Michal Kaščák, the festival director) the probHe enjoyed the film as well, thanked me and lem was that it was partly about him. I had a I thanked him that we could go where we problem that it was too little about him. There’s wanted. He didn’t evade questions, and I ap- nothing else behind it, I think, but he made the preciate that. decision. He doesn’t forbid me from screening it, but he refused to acknowledge it as an official film. I like it, it’s a positive film. I don’t quite understand Mišo, but I accept it, there’s no anger... I just want the film to have an audience. There is nothing worse for a filmmaker than a film that can’t be officially screened. Miro Remo and his crew while filming
You were busy with editing earlier today. What did you work on?
Just once, I think, you disrupt the proceedings with a question we can hear in the finished film. It’s about Huszár’s political contacts in the nineties and privatization. It is a heavy topic, Huszár says it has wrecked his health and family. You didn’t want to dig deeper?
Me and my old friend Marek Kučera started shooting the eighties generation, that is my generation, in Ladce. We have made a video for a local band, it’s coming out soon, we filmed it on the roof of a housing unit. I’m going to visit the village regularly all year, we’ll see after that. And I spend weekends there.
I dug deeper, but the film had to be shortened for the TV version, so we cut it out. We intend to make a longer film, but we are seeking for funding. It’s a great topic, Tibor isn’t afraid to talk about it. Maybe there’s nobody in that generation of well-known people as frank as him. He was walking the line between life and death, that can awake one... At least that’s how I read it, but that’s just my interpretation.
What about other projects? I have read that Comeback is due to be released in the fall of 2012. Comeback has been delayed for some time now. We will launch it, when we - the editor Marek Kráľovský and the script consultant Juro Šlauka are all satisfied. I don’t want to announce another date. It feels awkward. These days we are still shooting.
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Yeah, I like to work with people I can trust. We don’t have to talk everything over now. I spent all my schooling time figuring out who to work with. These are people I can rely on, people who will carry on, even when the diSo you’re shooting. Does it mean that the story is rector gets stuck. still evolving? There’s no sense in releasing it, just because it’s the time... We have to be positive that we did everything for the film. It matters to me, it’s part of my film life.
Yes. I let the stories in my films open, waiting that life will show me the way. Sometimes you run yourself out... But, in most cases, time helps. I am aware of two more films in development, one about amateur filmmakers and another about a band called Swan Bride. Neither of those projects have been supported by the Audiovisual Fund, so they have been put on hold. I care for both, but you can’t do much without money. Shooting in Ladce is backed with my own resources, so is another film about the Jobus brothers (alternative musicians). The lads from Swan Bride have been labelled as nihilists and the Fund doesn’t support nihilists... It’s a shame, I think their worldview is very up to date.
Testing the light
For God’s sake, at least the picture about amateur filmmakers under the communist regime is a great story and a prime example of a project that the Audiovisual Fund is meant to support.
Miro Remo and his crew while filming
“Life gives more room to mistakes. In film this element should be absent. Film can become an oasis, paradise, where everything is pure. This purity exists even in obviously negative things, or at least I look for it inside a man. In reality maybe I wouldn’t give him a chance, but I do within film. So I can get further. Film tears down a barrier within me, it’s more honest and clearer.“
We will see, I will try it with this project another time. Some names feature in your films repeatedly: Jaro Vaľko, Ivo Miko and Mário Ondriš at the camera, sound engineer Lukáš Kasprzyk, editor Marek Kráľovský, producer Barbara Hessová – do you intentionally gather your own permanent creative unit? WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 11
Drawing is like a conversation
Veronika Obertová and Michaela Čopíková speak their minds
Michaela Čopíková and Veronika “Berta” Obertová started collaborating at school and established their production company Ové Pictures upon graduating. Together they make short animated films, music videos, commercials and other stuff. Both of them have authored their own films. About Socks and Love (2008) comes from Michaela and Viliam (2009) from Veronika. Both films have been successfully screened at festivals. In 2012 the girls finished a collaboration titled Dust and Glitter.
Juraj KovalCík, michal klembara
illustration: Michaela Čopíková and Veronika “Berta” Obertová
Both of you have made a few solo shorts. This year you have released the first co-authored film, Dust and Glitter. How did you get together? Michaela Čopíková: We were friends at school already and started to help each other and collaborate.Then we realized that it was better for us to work together. It’s faster, more fun and more spontaneous. We often work like in ping pong, one has a suggestion, draws it, the other continues. Working in pairs is great, I can’t even imagine it any other way.
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Veronika Obertová: Exactly, I will just add that How do you make a living? You probably after Miša came back from studying in San couldn’t pay the mortgage with prize money... Francisco, we officially started working under M.: We produce custom-made animations the brand Ové Pictures. and cut our expenses. We try to do what Are there any problems, like in complementing we know and enjoy, some people like it and order more stuff from us, giving us a boost. each other’s style of drawing? When someone orders our animations, it’s clear from the get-go that it won’t be a stock V.: No, we can always agree or “redraw” after 3D, but something handmade or at least creaeach other. tive and enjoyable. M.: And, as if naturally, things one of us doesn’t like to do, the other does better. Drawing is like a conversation, if you enjoy it, it will lead somewhere. And your partner is all that matters. So how do you divide responsibilities? M.: I prefer hand-drawn animation and I don’t like sewing puppets, but Berta does. V.: Yeah, spot on. I enjoy making puppets most of all. M.: And I hate rendering. V.: Well, we have that in common.
Dust and Glitter, still image
You have also made music videos, not just for Slovak musicians. How did you get into this Making animated film is a far more intricate job type of media? than making live action or documentary. How do you choose stories to adapt if they can take years M.: Yeah, it’s more or less a hobby, few musicians or bands can afford the real price of of your life? animated video. It’s the work we love most, M: Well, we always have some ideas for films. videos are a beautiful format. The first video We often make up a story or potential concept for Lavagance (Slovak band) was made as Berta’s school project and since then we have and store it, so it won’t get lost, of course. Probeen looking for other opportunities. We still duction usually takes us a year, the story itself are and still want to make animated music and the screenplay can be in development much videos. longer. You have to digest it in your mind for a while and then the idea is ripe to become a film. V.: Originally, they were made as term proWe don’t have that many films yet, so it’s hard to jects. And we loved them, so we’re glad that explain, but many of our decisions are intuitive, we can make more and so far there has always been someone who has ordered a video even naïve. from us. Which makes us happy. I asked because many animators make films for M.: Then our video for the song Free to Be two-three years, or more. Me (by L.A.-based singer-songwriter Haroula Rose) went viral and introduced our work M.: But we have agreed that we don’t want to to other foreign musicians who became inspend many years with each film, we accept terested in having animated video. And each video has its own story. For instance, I met more imperfections. members of Antioquia (a Bay Area band) on the train. Free to Be Me was our first video So as not to get stuck with one thing over the long as Ové and its reception was unexpected, but term? encouraging. Another video we were happy to make was the one for Jana Kirschner (SloM.: Exactly. vak singer). WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 13
V.: We wanted to make a video for Janka for a long time, but we just talked about it. Then Mario “Smashing” Vasko, her manager, asked us if we were interested to make her a video. So it began. Song selection, puppet making etc. The whole process took more than a year, I think.
Moreover, this film competes in different categories than before.
How long do you usually make a video?
The California award, boast about it a bit.
Is it troublesome that the required technology is not accessible in Slovakia?
M.: Not much, it’s not a big deal nowadays. You can solve many things with the Internet and I M.: Yeah, about a year. But it’s a long video, think that our next film won’t be on 35 mm. 6 minutes. It was also technically demanding More people see such videos on small mobile screens than in a cinema. and had many characters.
M.: We won the grand prix at the AniMazSpot festival and right now they are sending us a bronze sculpture. And my participation at the San Francisco International Film Festival, where Dust and Glitter competed for a prestigious Golden Gate Award, was also an accomM.: The latest for Susan James (another Cali- plishment. fornian singer-songwriter) took just about that long, but she contacted us half a year in How do you see the future of your work? What advance, so we could prepare a schedule for would you like to do, or what form of distribution would you like to use? her. V.: Usually we need at least 3-4 months for production, but it depends on the technique we choose and on the musicians. Whether they talk to us, whether they follow deadlines or have some suggestions.
M.: Well, after the first two years we know that Dust and Glitter was your first film as Ové Picwe have to improve a lot and not give up. We tures. What did you want to achieve with this will resume making animations, films, videos film? and other projects. Right now we are developing another film, to be finished in 2013. We M.: Yeah, we set it up so that we launch the have more ideas and dreams, but you can’t studio and Dust and Glitter would be the first forecast some things. In addition to shorts, we film in our production. We even got satisfac- would love to make a feature animation project tion, because it’s about San Francisco and it Dobšinský, along with other animators. It’s bewon an award right in California. I started ing developed over a year and hopefully, we will writing a screenplay and taking pictures while have enough energy and resources to realize it. studying in San Francisco. I really wanted to make something that would refer to my in- Adapting eight folk fairy tales published by Pavol ternship there. And we meant to produce it Dobšinský is perhaps the most ambitious animaindependently. We learned a lot. tion project in contemporary Slovak film. How was it developed? For instance? M.: It’s still being developed. The idea had already M.: It’s our debut film after school and may- been voiced at the Academy of Performing Arts be it’s not the best film in the world, but we long ago, and it resurfaced when we launched were self-reliant in production and in the or- Ové Pictures. Of course, it’s a big project, so it ganization of everything. Many great people took shape only after the B-films company joined helped us and we learned at every stage. The as a producer. The Audiovisual Fund supported a film was transferred to 35 mm and we had to workshop and meeting of all directors and screensolve many technical and logistical issues. For writers, where we selected the tales and searched instance, we had images transferred in Ger- for connections between stories. By February we many, while sound was mixed in Prague. should have a revised version of the script that will be used in fundraising. WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 14
How about the schedule? Christmas 2013 was an Which was great, because after selection, we original date of theatrical release. attended lectures and pitching training. In the end we didnâ€™t win, but it was undoubtV.: This project definitely needs two more years edly an awesome experience, as prior to that I and, of course, even that deadline depends on hadnâ€™t ever taken part in pitching. Of course, funding. the project also moved forward due to this experience. And what is the HUG project you mentioned off-record dedicated to?
Dust and Glitter, still image
M.: HUG is an organic project that is still growing. It is a collection of illustrations, dedicated to hugs, which will travel around a few cities, starting in Lisbon on December 1st and ending in Slovakia in the summer. Our wish, if people like the collection, is to make a short non-narrative film about hugging. It has grown from our cute hobby into something for galleries and people.
You have mentioned your own short film, due to be released next year. What can you say about it? V.: Drawing hugs is really our passion, we both have been doing it for several years, but V.: This short is about fear, our protagonist is a only now have we managed to put together girl called Nina. We want to work with puppets. an exhibition, and in addition to illustrations Last year the project was selected as one of four we have made T-shirts and brooches, because finalists for the Bosch Co-production Prize. we like to make those, too. advertisement
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There is power in verity
An interview with Teodor Kuhn
It is well known that Slovakia is a strong base for documentarists. Fiction films kind of limp behind. Young talents, coming from short films, could bring a long needed recovery. One of these young talents is the promising director, Teodor Kuhn. His last film Momo has been selected for several festivals and his directorial style shows the signs of unusual maturity. Thematically, he has been focusing on the issues of young generations and their integration into society.
Teodor, you belong to young filmmakers from the capital. How do you perceive the space you live in and how does it affect you? I live in a housing project and even though I partly grew up in the country, I know little but the city. I stand for talking only about things I know so I take for granted that my films take place in an urban environment. The city actually has a great part in a few of my films and determines their stories so much that they could not take place elsewhere. But I also have a few films where the city is not featured at all, or is marginalized and can’t be seen as a character.
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The city is almost always present but themes may vary. From depression to skateboarding to the people with antisocial reputation – skinheads. Do you see a parallel between them and skaters?
But I am rather encouraged by good films from my context. For example Ja som baník, kto je viac by Roman Fábian or Trogár by Adam Felix and Ďakujem, dobre by Mátyás Prikler. Actually, they are almost my generaI rather feel that the common thread for the vast tion and I respect their work. majority of my films is searching for the just world. I have some light, funny movies and then People know you as a former skater, you had the ones that should have a message. The pro- to quit due to an injury. The skater community tagonist regularly attempts to solve an internal is typically very fond of audiovisual media. problem, often related to his unsatisfactory so- However, what was the direct impulse for you to study it? cial status or trouble with parents. All in all, he seeks happiness and peace. Momo is not directly (laughs) I accidentally read some promoabout skinheads and there is no mention of this tional broadsheets at the Academy of Peror another ideology. It deals with a teenager, forming Arts in Bratislava and film direction who lacks authority. He is looking for his place looked like the easiest course. I couldn’t imin life, and suddenly he finds his ideal in the un- agine what a director actually did, since camworthy aggressor. Moreover, the film shows that eramen filmed and actors acted. Somehow I the alpha male philosophy may be attractive on deduced that the interview for the direction the outside, but in real life, truly great people act course would be the most passable. Only afvery differently. That’s what the father’s charac- ter I had been accepted I found out what was ter is about. going on there. Until then I had been making some comic sketches with my mates, but Can we say that your ideas come straight out of with no interest in filmmaking at all. It was just fun. Your question has brought back the your life? memories! (laughs) Of course. Everything I shoot I want to enrich with experience, even if it is only the the details of someone’s moves or dress. The same is true in selecting my themes, I adapt my experience or issues that bother me intimately. Now I am working on a political film, say detective or thriller, about one of the greatest wrongdoings in the history of modern Slovakia. Teodor Kuhn So even Three Weeks of Freedom, in which a young skater recollects the events that changed his fam- So in a way it was a coincidence. If you menily and his sport passion, is directly inspired by tion friends, do you still collaborate with them your life? now that you make more serious things?
Yes. There are so many authentic internal de- Actually I do, one of them is an editor and I tails that it would be impossible to make up if it edited my last film with him. The others still skate and we make videos together sporadihadn’t happened. cally. But the core of the team I work with is Your screenplay for Momo was awarded at the from the school. Midpoint program, that surely felt good. Did it also gave you a boost or you kept your head cool? Do you miss skating or do you concentrate just on filmmaking? It felt very good. And it stimulated me, because I miss it. It’s a love of life, but I learned to after the ceremony a bunch of Romanians con- cope with it. gratulated me with malicious smiles as if to say “and now let’s see how you shoot it...”. WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 17
As an ex-skater you probably had some trouble with the police. In fact, that is one plane of your film Skateboard Seven. I wonder if you thought how you’re going to depict policemen in your following works.
You think like a true filmmaker – the public sphere is often a rich source of film stories. Obviously it’s going to be a different kind of film than the ones you made before. Does it concern you that such matters should be exposed?
I’m an idealist in this, I believe that the police should be a respected service and not hated controllers. It wasn’t expressed in this film, but the next one will have a cop as a prominent character and despite his flaws he will be a positive hero. I think that people do wrong, because they are unhappy and sad, not because there is something like absolute evil and an appetite to harm.
I was always politically and socially active and it touched me when someone suffered injustice. And it seems that Slovakia lacks reflection of contemporary events. From time to time there are some reports on the state of society, but mostly we are dealing with out of date issues like The Confidant (2012) that still tackles communism. If there is something to reflect on, it’s a velvet revolution and post-revolution times. Yet nobody goes there. Rarely we have something good about social reality, for example Thanks, Fine, a great film, by the way. And very few people poke their nose into politics, although it has great influence on how we live. Therefore I respect documentarists like Zuzana Piussi or Miroslav Jelok. And I want to follow them with a feature film.
You have continually emphasized authenticity of locations and characters. That is a very positive element, but hard to work with. Do you want to pursue authenticity even in features? I’m glad you see authenticity in my films! It’s not yet spotless, but it will get better, hopefully. I definitely want to pursue it in bigger things, as I haven’t been interested in stylization so far. There is power in verity, I think. You can either labour on a script for years and then have a story that will strike a spectator or you can film real people in real events and get the same impact.
Certainly. However, to make a film speak to the broad audience, its theme has to be in some way universal yet specific. Bratislava city may Lost Children, event poster provide such themes. You have mentioned the film you’re working on now. Presumably it’s set That sounds great and I can see you are very enin the capital as well. Can you disclose more thusiastic about it. Do you plan to address young people in the future? about its story? As I said it’s about a great wrongdoing that makes me want to cry. A huge scandal where everybody knows the culprit, as always in Slovakia. But since the big shots are involved, we can’t do anything about it. I can disclose that it’s not set in high political circles, though there is a connection. As very little verified information about the case has surfaced, our film will have informative and educative value, too.
Of course, but I haven’t thought of the details. I do what I consider necessary. You’ve had considerable success with non-actors. Are you going to use them for the next film? Certainly. I have no need for used up and formulaic Slovak actors, though some are still quality. Those cherished by the public are mostly puppets with pretty faces. I either work with less
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known but talented people, or I choose nonactors. There are heaps of talented people and they don’t have to study acting at all. Some are simply born with that skill. I know many folks who don’t make living from acting, but they could put half of the National Theatre or any local series cast to shame. Three Weeks of Freedom, film poster
where I get shut in for ten hours a day to study. We drink through the Artfilmfest in Piešťany a Trenčianske Teplice and then in the fall I become a student (laughs). Outside it’s always great. I have no money, so if they didn’t invite me, I wouldn’t see as much. Next week I’m going to Moscow, where I wouldn’t ever get without film, so I am very grateful.
Bodhisattva v petrzalke, film poster
You have non-actors in Momo, too. On the other hand, Gregor Hološka, an experienced theatrical What are you looking for at the Bratislava fesactor, was quite impressive. How do you remem- tival? ber the shooting? All the big films. The new ones by Fliegauf The shooting was great. We had been carefully or Haneke. Always looking for the big names, picking people to work with and in the end we although debuts tend to be great, too. Also, had the best crew ever. All good and honest I am curious about films by Ken Loach, Thomas folks. Vinterberg, Kim Ki-duk and, especially, Garrone. What films inspire you? I have a couple of top films. Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers by Jarmusch or The Wrestler. But all are removed from what I would like to do, or what one can do here. And I watch everything, because I think that it’s very useful. Especially contemporary things. From the USA it’s mainly older stuff and Oscar winners. Independent only if it’s worth it. However, Europe has the real stuff now, generally. You have attended various festivals, either with your films or just as a spectator. Which ones have been most interesting to you? We go to festivals with mates to have fun, mostly, so they’re like parties. But then there is a different kind of festival, like now the IFF Bratislava,
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is a wonderful thing, 1 Short film eals the talent in rev because it you are a all of us. No matter if or cinemaor ect dir ter, wri screen rt films sho g kin tographer. Ma to the chalup is o wh ws sho lly rea a kind of It’s ’t. isn o wh lenge and cinema. gateway to the world of ičík Jan - Marek
of production, short 3 In terms crack. It film is a tough nut to stly to mo y wa its ds fin ally usu tribudis se hou art festivals and a great tion only. However, it’s ector to starting point for a dir lls. ski ary gain the necess - Katarína Kerekešová
to rything I shoot I want 2 Eve n if it eve e, enc eri exp h enrich wit e’s eon som is only the details of is true e sam e Th ss. dre or moves s, I adapt in selecting my theme es that issu or e enc eri exp my bother me intimately. - Teodor Kuhn
s of making amateur film 4 I am a fan ne. pho e bil mo a h wit cell phones can Cameras integrated in ages nowadays. im capture high quality pek Sno - Martin
slovak y a d o t g n i k a filmm ieces,
Bits and p rs thoughts and whispe
the near future largely I think that film will in Internet 5 move from cinemas and television to the n more eve is It els. nn cha on and new distributi , where the traditional probable with short film ost ineffective. alm are on uti ways of distrib - Ivana Laučíková
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maker would love to 6 Every film at a cinema have his film screened te comqui because nothing can time I e sam the At t. tha pare to d and nge cha has realize that a lot s seem like rm tfo pla ine onl se the s. VOD the future of short film rize short sites might help popula on the k bac m the get and films nothre’s the e aus big screen. Bec screen. big a on a em cin like ing - Andrej Kolenčík
diverse. Either ch to finding topics is 7 The approa ts me so much rac att t tha ipt scr a I might get h it further or I find that I want to work wit then I try to acquire an impressive book and might try and write I Or it. the rights to film in that case I deal with something myself, and ng everything one eri cov un , ics personal top . rld wo tries to hide from the jak Beb - Peter
stakes, in film this ele more room to make mi is, oas an e om 8 Life gives bec . Film then can ment should be absent ity exists hing is pure. This pur ryt eve ere wh se, adi par I look for st lea at ative things or even in obviously neg give him a n’t uld wo I ybe ma lity it inside a man. In rea r. Film film. So I can get furthe chance, but I do within and est hon re mo it’s , me hin tears down a barrier wit clearer. - Miro Remo
ics I have worked 9 So far the top to on seem to be related life and my of s iod per tain cer h at wit lt dea I the problems s about the time. At first, it wa that mysterious phenomena . Later nobody understood(...) types it was a series on stereo ) (... n. ctio du and mass pro e interRecently I have becom first ested in portraits for the oes. her of its time, like portra vá iko nár Mi a Jan -
al I prefer to deal with rur ticated settings and unsophis w folks. This is where I gre And . live l stil I up and where fit although I don’t quite py to in anymore, I am hap ent. I observe this environm ple sim s film my p kee to like city pli sim the to accordingly about. of the people they are - Marek Janičík
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slovak films illustration by Gรกbor Vรกllaji
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The Star critique
They are coming. They are here. They live among us. Aliens, ETs, strangers in masks and dark coats, hidden in the shadows of the subway, randomly flashing their lustful eyes and white fangs. They’re waiting. They can wait.
The moment when the veil of the temple is torn in two, one of the volcanoes in Iceland explodes, a panda gives birth to quintuplets and well after many signs of the world coming to an end, the creatures crawl up into the limelight. Not all of them and not all at once. Gradually, slowly, starting on tiptoe. Some of them will be unrecognizable after their transformation. They will look just like you, or at least similar to the creatures of mankind, though with certain (im)perceptible anatomical or mental deviations. Some will enjoy being in the spotlight after being forced to hide from the people in the dark. They will start demanding your attention. Normal people wouldn’t do that. Normal people walk straight. Of course, they eventually avoid speeding cars and bicycles, but normal people just walk straight within limits, they don’t bother anyone.
People mind their own business, as they say. But there are some exceptions and you’d have to see them to believe them. When driving, they blare all the time or they repeat how they would buy up everything in your house. Then they sit behind a counter or at a bar or they appear on television and serve the masses of the people. You can see them everywhere. A superstar model or a fantastic tenor and a brave soldier pasted on every freakin’ square inch of empty space. Those are the greatest stars. They attract millions. Everybody sees them in a slightly different way and pays them various kinds of attention, but if we collected all those personal measurements of attention, we would have a pretty nice sum. I would instantly invest in a hedge fund. Let the officials and “unofficials” look into the business, because it is a mighty interesting phenomenon how they snatch those billions from the air. And anyway, down with them! So the normal person won’t act like a monkey on television or a comedian in a theatre; they stay at home or walk straight, maybe sometimes looking around. At home they watch TV or read a magazine. They have enough pictures to look at, when they’re outside. An ad here, a poster there, so be it any place they’re actually at, a normal person always has to look at those monkeys and those comedians.
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Some normal people even put a Sports Illustrated calendar on their bathroom door. They look at the stars all day and the stars look back. This feels quite normal. Everything is alright, they think. Well, not everything. Because lots of things get fucked up constantly. But we can survive and if we pay loans, we will prevail. You have to stick to your craft, if you have any. Those comedians and monkeys showing off how they can do nothing, but smile, talk, dance and sing.Yeah, everybody loves a good song. But I work, I have a real job, I undergo serious issues. Some of them are funny, but mostly they’re serious. A normal person is kicking under the blanket, partly from nervousness, partly from overdose, because they have to do drugs to stay normal. Fortunately, Ján Slovák, the star of The Star (2012), isn’t quite normal. In fact, he craves to be one of those monkeys and comedians. To get people to watch him, he could play a truck driver, a killer, or else a Gestapo man. So he doesn’t have to crouch in the closet full of anger and frustration, but he can do – aside from the job where he watches molten iron – something that pleases him (though that doesn’t earn him a living). Slovák’s life is a documentary. A working man who likes to save human lives, collect gift vouchers, and regularly drives his wife
Magda and their mentally ill son Janko junior to the opera in Bratislava. He sees himself in the theatre – in actors – so much so that he’s been joining extras in a TV court show and when he gathers up the courage, he walks into a little theatre, where he even gets a role. Jano is simply a star, a positive hero, in the beginning a little sooty like a chimney sweep, which is necessary for drama, but after twenty minutes into the film he feels like your lifelong buddy. You’ll have an urge to refresh all your childhood dreams, to go through a stock of people you wanted to be, places you wanted to see and people you wanted to meet.
Hvzieda/The Star, still image
Magda helps Slovák to rehearse, leading him to be natural. His son also knows the lines by heart. Jano was likewise fascinated as a kid on the set of the first Slovak teleplay Kubo (1965).
Indirectly and after many years he has finally capitalized on hanging around those famous actors and that film equipment.
Hvzieda/The Star, still image Hvzieda/The Star, still image
The bigger the gap between the protagonist’s dream and his current position, the more improbable it is that the dream will eventually become true. So you start to cheer for the hero. Somehow Slovák makes it too. And God be praised, ‘cause he is the most sympathetic character. The film doesn’t filter any dirt apart from that of his manual labour, or let us say that it runs straight through the dirtier places, without suspension. Though there is something to stick to, for example the son’s reliance on his father, resulting in stress after their temporary separation. But there might not be a tomorrow, so why spoil the judgement day? The documentary film The Star is directed by Andrej Kolenčík.
“You have to stick to your craft, if you have any. Those comedians and monkeys showing off how they can do nothing, but smile, talk, dance and sing. Yeah, everybody loves a good song. But I work, I have a real job, I undergo serious issues.“
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Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Strauss, together with The Blue Danube, by a wholly different Strauss, have become - in movies - signifiers of reference. Many people saw the reference prior to its original use in Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. Some say that it makes the original scenes look less impressive. I don’t know, maybe various homages or parodies do change the meaning of Kubrick’s Zarathustra, but in doing so, they multiply the meaning, which is only good to me.
In Space Odyssey, Zarathustra plays in moments of rebirth, transformation, and evolutionary jumps. In the beginning, when the Sun rises “from” the planets. In the scene where a starving apeman jubilantly pounds at a tapir skeleton, apparently hallucinating that he has just killed the animal, and there’s going to be a fiesta. And in the end poor dying Bowman too hallucinates that he’s not dying, but changing into the bullheaded Star Child.
Miro Remo places Zarathustra in the beginning, too. We can see a part of the protagonist’s face in an amateurish record, as he enters a cave, shot in an extremely low angle, so it (the face) looks like a vaguely curved shape extending to the frame. There is also something resembling a cave entry dissolving in the Moon and bat silhouettes. The opening shots help to identify Remo’s movie as a (perhaps cave) cobweb of references: one of the web’s plans is referencing Kubrick’s movie, mainly with straight quotations of Zarathustrian (and Danubian) segments. Another plan is referencing plenty of the protagonist’s (Ľuboš Remo, the director’s uncle) texts, or “images” rather than “texts”. Some of Lubo’s photos are an integral part of the movie, some become its “objects” - as when they are hanging on a clothesline. The film follows Lubo preparing and producing them, thus de-composing (also in a sense of explication, narration or making a cobweb) a pictorial gag of a snapshot in the spacetime. Moreover, there is a short excerpt from Lubo’s own attempt at sci-fi filmmaking - The Planet of the Lepidopters (1984) - pasted in. To make a long story short, Arsy-Versy is a metafilm
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rather than a documentary. The authors tag it as a “movie about mother and son”, indicating different ambitions than an effort to document a life of two specific people. Ľuboš and his mother Jolana are as real as it gets, but - to viewers - they are equally images. Their relationship is an image, not unlike the image of the Earth orbiting the Sun, the image of Star Child protected by the planet: the mother as a core, stable corpus, that bonds and also allows pursuing hobbies (i.e. freedom) to the son (unstable particle). Because what would become of Ľuboš, a village weirdo, outsider, without his mother’s care? Although she sees that “he’s capable”, could he use his extraordinary talent, his skills without her support? Or: can we - as a society - put to use qualities of the so called fools or are we only able to try to cure them? Lubo and his mother’s relationship is an image, because it is also highly significative. It’s significative because it is “against nature” – it is not (viewed to be) natural for a single man in his 50s to still live with his mother. In such a tight mother-child relationship, lasting for half a century, perhaps some nuances - like a mother’s jealousy of her son’s partner - may develop in a different way than usual (Psycho, anyone?).
At one point the mother hints that a nonexistent partner as an object of jealousy was replaced by the son’s passion for bats. On one hand she encourages him to get a job, to be “financially secure, too”. On the other hand she seems to be at least a bit proud of his achievements, like mothers usually are. (“When he understands what he’s doing, then why should anyone criticize him? He knows that what he’s doing isn’t bad.”)
In the tunnel, Lubo changes from a harmless oddity into a pioneer, Miro Remo introduces his hobby (passion) in its full
Arsy-Versy, still image
glory: as an exceptional deed, an ingenious exercise of human capabilities. In the closure Lubo identifies with the object of his life-long study: he turns from the pioneer into “the biggest bat in the world”. He has literally ascended from the hill’s (Earth’s) innerds, reversing Bowman’s immersion in the monolith, to look at his mother (Earth) as a bat, i.e. he has turned his (and the whole) Arsy-Versy, still image world upside down. It means She actively partakes in his only that this simpleton - by consistent adherence to his hobby: she’s the main female model for his pictures, own perspective - has changed what a perspective means. to say the least, though “there’s quite a bit on that stomach”. And that’s the picture taken 31 years ago. 31 beautiful years. Triumphant Zarathustra comes back in a sequence of Lubo’s descent into the tunnel and in the very end (as in Kubrick). And as in Kubrick, these too are scenes of rebirth, transformation into a different shape of existence.
“On one hand she encourages him to get a job, to be “financially secure, too”. On the other hand she seems to be at least a bit proud of his achievements, like mothers usually are. “
Arsy-Versy, still image
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Summarizing the experience of Katarína Kerekešová’s film, two adjectives stand out: ambitious and symbolic. And I’d like to stick to them, because they mean both too much and too little. The rest is just a bonus, an appendix, a dispensable blind gut of technical details and interpretations that very few (with working minds) are interested in.
One sure must be quite stubborn to endure the five-year-long production of a 26 minute puppet musical. In the end, the director has managed to go with trends (puppet animation has been resurrected all over the world – see Fantastic Mr. Fox or A Town Called Panic) and her film offers very important added value – a musical part equal to the visual one. Marek Piaček’s songs and orchestral compositions wander within a broad avant-garde territory. The composer himself defines the extent of his inspiration as a cross between Philip Glass, Stravinsky and Venetian Snares and instead of “musical” he prefers the label “animated opera”. Maybe to make clear that the primary target group is a pre-cultivated audience. And ideally foreign, as the lyrics in (albeit not the most fluid) English indicate. (The film has no dialogue).
The stone pit, manned by a group of workers, welcomes a new addition, the foreman’s wife, coming to take care of him and their potential descendants. The foreman, physically and mentally abrasive from the hard work (like all the men there), neither appreciates her care, nor her needs. He sees her more as another burden. At first, the young woman puts up with his inaccessibility, getting relief through nighttime walks, when the pit is a quiet and magical place, guarded by a couple of stone men. Little does she know that she’s being followed by one of the workers. The turning point of the humble story comes with a tragic accident. The workers might have got used to such grim stuff, but the woman is genuinely shocked and permanently scarred by the foreman’s cynical act. Here the story finally reveals its tragic and balladic anchoring. Even though later on the husband expresses remorse, the tragic conventions make you pay the ultimate price for your mistake. A steep fall (or take-off) awaits the pair and over the doomed pit grows a third stone man. In her simple structure, Kerekesová exploits profuse visual juxtapositions. The men have assimilated with the pit so much that they resemble roughly spalled stones themselves. The redhead dressed in pink and later in black, as if taken directly from a Brontë novel, offers a stark contrast to the meticulous realism of the
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workers’ shirts and denims. An industrial anthill of the pit in the daylight, replete with cabins, pick-axes, dynamite and cargo cableways (and appropriate Piaček’s breakcore rhythms), transforms into the fantastic silhouette of a pagan graveyard by night (with appropriate “moonlight sonatas”). A metronome-like stereotypical workers’ “dance” is momentarily replaced by a rapturous “tango”. (Of course, dance is said to be symbolic work. And vice versa.) Once a sewn underwaist, then – chillingly – a lapful of stones represent a dreamed-of child.
Stones, still image
In spite of certain realistic elements, Stones is foremost a passionate metaphor. A metaphor of the desire for love and life fulfillment (thus echoing another ambitious Slovak animation, Viktor Kubal’s feature The Bloody Lady). Also, it recalls fatefulness, similar to that of another postmodern film musical, Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark.
The Lunch Box critique
A modest film with a modest title. The Lunch Box, directed by Ľubomír Michailo Kocka, is the story of an ageing married couple, set in a historical town in central Slovakia (Kremnica) that captivates its viewers with its probability, casuality, mild humor and relatively tasteful tear-jerking.
In the alliance of two people that has been going on for decades, little has been left untold. Every morning, the husband (Štefan Šafárik) prepares to go to work, the wife packs his lunch, helps him get dressed and puts his wristwatch on. An automatic kiss on the cheek instead of saying goodbye, and the man leaves. Routine at home, routine at work: the same gatekeeper at the same gate with the same clocking in machine, the same shift, long ago ingrown into the bones. The foreman instinctively feels lunchtime coming and checking his watch just confirms his correct estimate. He shuts himself into a private cubby to quietly ingest the contents of the lunchbox. After his shift he goes back home and the next morning, the same course begins again. Few people never get taken unawares and our Mr. Jožko is no exception. Mrs. Ružena (Božidara Turzonovová) has a stroke and from now on he has to take care of her. The trials that follow show the depth of their relationship. There have been indeed very few untold things left. Their content, however, has become all the more important.
Only the sporadic outbursts of an awfully pathetic orchestral soundtrack akin to traditional blockbuster melodies harm the intimate austerity of the film.
The Lunch Box, still image
Its concentration on a story that is relevant to every human (the loss of a loved one) brings The Lunch Box to a broad audience. That, and the economy of expression make for a sympathetic and un-luxurious whole (not counting the music). At the same time, its producers have clearly outlined their limits: there are thousands of similar stories (if not films), and there is only a theoretical chance that out of all those it will be exactly The Lunch Box that will tear your heart apart.
Consequently to the plot, the film’s contentual side is preferred to its formal ambitions. The characters hardly talk. We learn important cues from their subtle gestures and face-play, from the recurring close-ups of the titular lunch box or Jožko’s wristwatch, and from the movements of cooking and consuming meals.
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Dust and Glitter critique
The latest short by Ové Pictures is inspired by the city that has already inspired many artists and will certainly inspire many more. America has undoubtedly plenty of magical places, but San Francisco, where Michaela Čopíková stayed for a time as a student, must be in the premier league. Just think of the hippies, Michael Douglas, the Golden Gate, the city’s steep alleys and many other sights that America has so successfully disseminated within the universal collective consciousness...
As the title suggests, this animation is not just the outcome of romantic academic enchantment. The city glitter, represented by a sort of golden rain, noiselessly swishing through postcard-like panoramic backgrounds, is complemented by the
homely lives of a young waitress and a bearded hobo. If we want to see everything in an autobiographical or political light, the girl could stand for post-communist emigration including trashy jobs and metropolitan isolation. The hobo could then be a synecdoche for the dark side of the American Dream. But I am not sure if we really want to: such schematic reading misses the point of Čopíková’s opposition between Dust and Glitter, motivated primarily storywise. And we shouldn’t forget the contrast of a cute privileged chihuahua and spotted street mongrel. The chihuahua, escorted by a gay couple, is hanging around at the waitress’ café. The girl instantly develops an affection for the dog. The relationship between the hobo and the mongrel takes a more meandering path. At first the waitress and the bum, though equal loners and outsiders, roll by each other without notice or interaction, separated by the imaginary barrier of social conventions and physical barrier of the store front glass. The hobo can merely ogle at a delicious muffin the waitress offers to the spoiled chihuahua to win its favor. Čopíková intertwines subtle plans of action and meaning without resorting to convenient schemes.
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At the same time she refuses to escalate indicated conflicts, so the short eventually gets a lightly nostalgic touch.
Dust and Glitter, still image
The combination of two anonymous lives in the hive of a metropolis is, of course, possible and desirable and without it the animated short wouldn’t arrive anywhere. The combination is rightfully, I believe, allusive and elusive, like most social interactions we establish in our lifetime and then abolish again, hurled elsewhere and with different people. Dust and Glitter doesn’t provide a lesson, rather a feeling or a vague hunch that those who have the least of welfare and love, are impassionate and grateful for the slightest bit and they can even multiply that bit and give it away.
The Last Bus critique
Uneasy and grim – such is The Last Bus (2011), a short film about the last rescue forest animals have from the hunting season. The story was written by Martin Snopek, inspired by his own experience when he accidentally got off the bus at the wrong stop and wandered through the woods for several hours to get home. The wild and unkind autumn is the perfect scenery for the film, which is saturated with the fear of death. And indeed, long after the screening, one is still filled with distress, sadness and a strong anxiety.
The Last Bus owes its heavy atmosphere mostly to the production technique. It’s a live-action film combined with animation - more specifically, it employs a technique called pixilation, which is also typical for Jan Švankmajer. During filming, the actors (mostly animators) move very slowly and the camera takes series of pictures in a sequence.
The result is an unnatural and jerky movement that some might even find scary. The film is thus formally distant from our everyday reality, emphasizing the impressive symbolism of the story. Interestingly enough, there are almost no dialogues in the film. All the more expressive are the gestures, postures and the mesmerizing score by Jakub Ursíny. Most of the actors remain hidden under motionless animal masks that encourage a stereotypical view of the characters. The short film deals with our true selves and our actions in an existential situation. So, when the time comes, the great bear simply follows the crowd and the rabbit is the brave one to stand up for the weak. The animals are trying to escape oppression and an unjust regime, personified by two boorish hunters played by actors Vít Bednárik and Vlado Zboroň, from the alternative theatre Skrat. They run towards a better future and fairer conditions, hopefully, because they do not have the courage and the means to stand up to their tyrants. And so they leave, pretending to be numb and indifferent. A prototype of this theme can be easily found in the history of any nation. We may even face similar oppression at work or at school. That’s why the film concerns us all, even though it is only fifteen minutes long.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, a bit of clumsy editing in the introductory sequence renders it somewhat chaotic.
The Last Bus, still image
In spite of this the directors Martin Snopek and Ivana Laučíková have managed to make a film you can watch multiple times, always deriving new ideas and interpretations, as proved by the grand prix at the Tampere Film Festival in Finland. Consequently, the film has been automatically selected to compete for the Academy Award. This marks the first Slovak nomination ever in the short films category.
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Who’s There? Remember: “Don’t yell at the wolf!“ critique
Slovak animated production has been struggling lately, but fortunately it is still happening. Young filmmakers still manage to make award-winning films, although this fact doesn’t seem to affect their media coverage. You can’t say that, however, about animated films for children – after 2000 they have become virtually nonexistent.
One proper children’s show - with an understanding of children’s needs and with visuals that will excite the viewers and easily draw them into its dream world – is being developed. Well, let’s not get too far ahead. At first, let’s take a look at the animated short Who’s There? directed by Vanda Raýmanová, released in 2010 and still circulating festivals all over the world.
Their first adventure epitomizes the history of the world in a nutshell. Events are set in motion by the faithfully written characters of the two boys and their primal fear of a creature called “wolf ”. Quite logically, the initial alienation from unpredictable nature, later followed by an estrangement from each other caused by trivial squabbles. Pretending not to mind the loss of their friend, each boy begins to erect walls, houses, chambers, floors, towers and all sorts of imaginary barriers between themselves. Eventually, they are united again by their original fear when a playful dog bursts into their opulent residences.
Who’s There?, still image
Naturally, the storyline is simple, to meet the needs of children, but that doesn’t make it trivial. There are many themes woven within the story: the fear of everything that is strange and the basic human weaknesses, in opposition to the unlimited imagination of children, as well as playfulAt the beginning of the story, ness and particularly the value there is an egg. Actually, two and need of friendship. Kids can discover all that again and eggs, from which two boys hatch: an older one, stubborn again while being fascinated by and a bit of a wiseacre; and a details of various wild things, younger one, more sensitive like a fluttering dragonfly or a and trusting. beetle in the grass.
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As if to assure us that this fantastic world is sophisticated but at the same time created with ease. Perhaps the most charming part of the animation is in the wonderfully evocative debates between the boys, depicted with a kind of maternal understanding of gravity that every child’s discovery bears. The ten-minute-long animation has received a very positive international response and, more importantly, it is designed as a pilot for the thirteen-part series Drobci (The Tots), which is currently in a pre-production phase. This is the first attempt after a long time to revive the tradition of children’s programs and it is certainly worth pursuing. According to common sense, the acquisition of the show by Slovak public broadcaster RTVS should just be a technicality. As in many spheres of social life in Slovakia, we can only hope that there will be progress, but no one knows when exactly. Personally, I root for The Tots but admittedly, it’ll take several more years before the new bedtime story show will be produced. Meanwhile, Vanda Raýmanová will entertain us with a short musical comedy Bel and Mia.
Cinema World critique
It is a story that has been repeated in Slovak towns and villages hundreds of times and its last chapter is being written right now. There used to be more than 700 cinemas. Those that survived the catastrophes of commercial television, the rise of VHS and video rental, and a dramatic drop in attendances, have been beaten by the inevitable digitalization. This is so for perhaps the last village cinema in Slovakia, in the village of Očová, near Zvolen, where perhaps the last village cinema in Slovakia, which has functioned to this very year.
The documentary Kino Svet (Cinema World) is Marek Janičík’s graduate film. He chose a very relevant subject: the extinction of traditional one-screen cinemas caused by the rise of digital film distribution. Digitalization requires expensive modern equipment and even lots of town cinemas do not have the funds, never mind small village enterprises. Shutting down
a cinema does not just mean a loss of space for showing films, but has considerable impact on the lives of people connected with it. The Osveta cinema in Očová is embodied by the projectionist who has worked there for over 40 years. He has many memories and even met his wife thanks to the cinema. An important part of his life is concluding and an idea is hatched to throw him a goodbye party. It gradually attracts more and more people – devoted filmgoers, the choir and most importantly Mrs. Filová, who arranges everything. The party is both cheerful and very moving. In the subplot Janičík searches for connections between the cinema history and the film ’Očovské Pastorále’ (Pastoral of Očová), shot on location in the village 38 years ago. Many of the locals appeared in the picture, and share their memories of the filming. It is also going to be the last film shown in their cinema. ’Kino Svet’ and ’Očovské Pastorále’ are linked with similar themes: the protagonists must come to terms with dramatic changes in their lives.
Cinema World, still image
Marek Janičík’s style can be tagged as minimalistic, allowing his cinematographer Petr Kováč to shoot long and the viewer to choose where to direct their attention. With two storylines and a pragmatic running time there is no room for boredom. Both the subject selection and its adaptation for the screen should be appreciated. Sobriety and concentration on the human aspect make an otherwise challenging subject accessible to the general public. The film could also be of interest to foreign audiences, especially in Middle and Eastern Europe, where the conditions of small cinemas are similar. You can find your own ‘Cinema World’ wherever you live, by talking to the lady at the box office or to your usher. They can surely tell you some remarkable things.
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Slovak film production is known mostly for its feature-length documentaries and shorts. Apart from the animated ones, most of the shorts are documentaries as well. Live-action film of any length is in a difficult position. If we browse through short live-action productions of recent years, it is difficult to find real quality. In this regard, young director Teodor Kuhn and his latest creation Momo represent an exception.
Kuhn has already been quite prolific, and shown some promise e.g. with Stratené deti (Lost Children, 2011). Thus Momo, with its duration of 30 minutes, does not just capitalize on Kuhn’s experience, but it is, I believe, his first major step towards a wider audience. The director also wrote the screenplay. It was awarded the best short film project at the Midpoint workshop 2011. The task for future filmmakers was to create a local story, which could work on an international scale. And Momo fits this requirement very well.
The story takes place in a typical housing project in Bratislava. The protagonist Michal, nicknamed Momo, is a football player. He has issues with his self-control and because of a fight during a match he is sacked from the team. Troubled by his family situation, he doesn’t get along with his mom and her new partner. His dad is in jail. The film doesn’t even show him with friends, he is lonely. His father’s unexpected return from prison may complicate matters even more or it may bring a much needed solution. The movie depicts a tougher alternative of how a young person’s life can develop. The protagonist’s environment is shown in a civil way, therefore close to the audience’s reality. Rap music, drugs, criminal activities, all the common signs for young filmmakers from Bratislava, are only hinted at - not exploited sensationally. Thus Momo speaks to viewers from any part of Slovakia. Leading performances only support a positive impression. Filmmakers have done a good job in the casting and created an interesting combination of actors. In addition to the non-actor Michal Cvečko in the title role, mostly well-known and experienced actors are featured. Cvečko handled his part surprisingly well, which is a testament to the director’s abilities.
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Gregor Hološka from the Ján Palárik Theatre in Trnava, as the mom’s brother and the father’s old “hooligan” friend Franke, turned out to be a great pick too. It is hard to imagine Hološka as a bad guy, but even in violent scenes he performed very convincingly. Apart from those moments, Franke appears friendly and harmless. Nonetheless, this is the intention – he is just as lost as Momo, trying to make it in the rough world. A solid performance as usual, despite the modest screen-time, was delivered by Attila Mokos as the dad. What this film lacks most is a genuine female character. Momo’s mother does not fill this role, even though she has a stable place in the story and appears regularly. Her character’s portrayal remains shallow and emotionless. It’s not Ela Lehotská’s acting failure: Teodor Kuhn created a mostly male world. Within the short length it is not a major problem, but in a potential feature film he should pay much more attention to complex female characters. If you are interested in watching a short live-action film, Momo is recomended. With this work Teodor Kuhn shows himself as a talented filmmaker who it is worth keeping track of.
Štyri (Four) is the second of Ivana Šebestová’s films, made back in 2007. Before that, she had made a number of school animations and one major project, an animated short called Lionardo Mio, dealing with the true origins of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Four is similarly situated in the past, though the much more recent past. The year is 1937, and we have four women – Hana the pilot, postwoman Eva, Lilith the fruit seller and the singer, Ariel. Each has her own story, apparently unrelated to the others, but in depth they are linked with a great tragedy.
At first, the tragedy is not at all obvious. Cheerful music, accompanying Hana the aviator on her way to work, evokes a pleasant atmosphere, a celebration of life, the simplicity and joy of being, rather than misfortune. The intro moves on casually, despite the playful music, until the sudden conclusion of Hana’s story shakes the viewer out of lethargy. The two middle stories are the most interesting, having the strongest interconnection and overarching idea. Connections make storytelling nonlinear, similar in its structure to features like Four Rooms or Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The director revealed a mosaic of different movies, books and music as her inspiration. Accordingly, the plot is a mosaic of motifs, gravitating around a life-changing incident. We see the tragedy mainly through the eyes of the four heroines, gradually revealing important cues, like their attitude towards infidelity. Woman-chasing is straightforwardly disapproved. Šebestová’s handling of Hana and her (faithful) husband seems cruel, even incomprehensible. While other women are more open in terms of sexual activity, they ultimately suffer much less.
Four, still image
Maybe it is a variation on the irony of fate. In any case, it doesn’t hinder the film’s potential to engage a unisex audience, although I think that its primary target group is women. The number four is connected with the film on more levels than it seems at first sight. Besides the four storylines, it was being made for four years, it premiered on 4th December and the original film negative was 444 meters long. The animation is very colorful and fresh, changing interiors and exteriors in a dynamic pace. That must be one of reasons why it took so long to make. There are few dubbed lines in the dialogue, pleasant enough not to disrupt the smooth flow of nonverbal information. In conclusion, watching Štyri could be a well invested fifteen minutes of your time if you like beautiful images and if you care – at least a bit – about the workings of Fate.
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Martin Bendžela is an academic artist who lectures at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. Even if he held his lectures with a lead helmet on his head, it wouldn’t look too dippy for his students. Therefore, once you know the protagonist’s background, the question in the beginning of the film (“Have you ever thought what it’d be like to live with a lead helmet on your head?”) becomes less eccentric. Otherwise, a picture of a man, walking around wrapped in tin foil, resembling a robot from an old science fiction television series, is ridiculous enough to keep you wondering and drag you into this twelve-minute semi-fiction film.
According to Jana Mináriková, her star may be an actor, but his character (Martin) combines two real people. Who knows if it’s not just another fabrication from the director who as a freshman documentarian compared poultry farming to the conditions of studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava.
If true, then somewhere in Slovakia, there lives a man with a lead helmet and another - or the same -, who catches lightning in a restricted area currently of a size of 25 km2, out of telecommunications coverage. One of them would surely deserve a proper documentary, but how do you deal with a weirdo who just won’t let you film him. Except by duping him? This short, filmed with a classical 8 mm camera, openly admits its own stylization and justifies it with the protagonist’s physical repulsion of electronics. Even his doctor friend, who examines our hero’s nerves, is dependent on a medical inventory from the 19th century. God helps him. Thunder hits together with animated or recorded lightning. A voice-over, read by a prominent actor, Marián Geišberg, amusingly admits that it’s being read, but that it has at least allegedly written by the central figure. Mináriková methodically exchanges and combines the layers of “reality” and film storytelling. She goes by her own rules, correspondingly with her nondescript hero, half mad scientist, half forest hermit. She has discovered a local and contemporary Jára Cimrman. Martin briefly mentions his wife and two children who haven’t endorsed his ascetic lifestyle. One scene depicts their short visit.
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Short, because the wife takes a call and Martin instantly goes down in pain. Geišberg/ Martin sarcastically comments on their reluctance to live without mp3 players, video games, the Internet, mobiles and the telly, but still accepts that everybody may be better off this way. With this naïve critique – of what anyway, consumerism, electronic media? – the short has rather neglected its own premise: Martin can’t stand the electromagnetic waves of appliances since he was hit by the lightning performing his private hocus-pocus. Why should the family pay for his eccentricity? Our society’s dependence on electricity might not pay off in the long term, but even the smallest machine powered by current is a product of a craft equally as valuable as Martin’s lightning-formed jewellery. When Jana Mináriková wanted to distribute her electrically immaculate film among the people, she digitalised it and uploaded it to the Azyl website. If we could light up bulbs and displays by touch, there would be many more daredevils who would try to “catch lightning”. One of them, perhaps, could find a way compatible with life and health. And then we would all subsidize his dizzy fortune, as we do now for managers of power plants.
The film VoiceS represents an exception in Slovak film production. It is one of very few dance films, even though one feature dance film has just been released this year (Tanec medzi repinami). VoiceS was created as the joint project of a choreographer, Yuri Korec, and a film and television director, Peter Bebjak. This has been their second collaboration so far. In 2007, they produced another dance film, Darkroom.
Even as a dance film, VoiceS has its peculiarities. Thereâ€™s not that much dancing in it. However, everything is expressed by movement, without words. Those are the basic constraints which the filmmakers worked with. Dance is given only as much space as needed. Therefore, the film is quite austere, there are no unnecessary scenes and no showing off. As revealed by the filmmakers, the story is based on their own experience.
This film is mainly about emotions and those radiating from VoiceS are not pleasant at all. The film is quite uneasy and oppressive. But that was the intention of its creators. They adapted the story of a woman suffering from schizophrenia and split personality. She ended her life with suicide. These motifs are visible from the beginning, if you are an observant viewer. Yet, no one is left in the dark, because the ending delivers a clear denouement. This should at least partially compensate for the demanding complexity of the film. The environment and costumes used in VoiceS are ambiguous when it comes to determining the time period of the plot. It takes place in an apartment that is part of an older building. The costumes of the protagonists refer to the pre-Second World War period, but the film doesnâ€™t emphasize the period. Perhaps it is an effort to remind us that this is a universal story that could happen anywhere and anytime.
VoiceS, still image
performances might already attract an arthouse audience anywhere in the world. Dance has proved to be a powerful platform for depicting serious inner problems. Peter Bebjak, the director, and his company D.N.A. Production are renowned in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, having produced many successful television series. Lately, Bebjak has been engaged in feature film production as well. VoiceS could therefore be a surprise to a lot of viewers. This project proves that Bebjak is a versatile filmmaker.
Making the film was not easy. The authors had to seek support abroad. Therefore, it features some Czech dancers, too, and the music was composed by an Austrian musician, Oliver Stotz. That sets a certain international framework for VoiceS, but the modern execution of dance
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Life’s experiences can be presented in many ways. Palko Matia, author of the short film Palacinky (Pancakes, 2011), decided to deal with the topic of hardship rather unusually for a Slovak filmmaker. The use of animation in documentaries has been much popularized in recent years by acclaimed features like Waltz with Bashir or Crulic. Interestingly, a similar method has been utilized here in this student short, coming from the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. The author has chosen an unusual, more creative approach, not much worn out by conventions. It will help him to find a likeminded audience.
Based on a true story, the film shows the troubled life of an ordinary girl, who tells her tale to an anonymous listener and simultaneously to the viewers. The lack of patience and understanding from her parents has left some marks, unnoticeable at first sight: the fear of incapability and uselessness, and a complete loss of faith in adults. The girl, already a woman, is saved from suicide incredibly. We can see it as a coincidence or as a symbol of something that relentlessly keeps us at the place dear to us, even at the cost of suffering. An elementary plot is set inside the house that meant hell to the heroine in her childhood. The protagonist, despite the overwhelmingly negative influence of her father, eventually realizes that there is a place and role for her in this world.
Pancakes, still image
The director toys with ambiguous reflections on life and death and the meaning of suicide. Utilizing simple black and white animation proves to be the right choice and the depressive atmosphere of the film is supported by the gloomy voice of the girl narrator.
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Pancakes, still image
The impression of a shattered family is faithful and realistic despite the animated look. There is a noticable flaw at the end, when the author asks a question, breaking the integrity of image and sound. But that doesn’t necessarily diminish the experience of watching this film. The originality and style of Pancakes brings it close to the European standard and it is more than likely that we will hear about similar works in the future, even if the local audience will need some time to get used to this style of filmmaking and accept it as equal to that of feature films.
The Lands of Strawman critique
Štefan Wolf, also called Slameníkov - a nickname he inherited from his grandfather – is a farmer, skilled stonemason and writer. Peter Kováč’s short documentary is his respectful portrait. Actually, it’s a double portrait. First, words accompanying images display an experienced and moderate man, vibrant even in old age.
Friendly and fair, Štefan Wolf proudly withstood all that the communist regime did to undermine him.
His testimony about the past is a just one of plenty important fragments composing a mosaic of oppressive workings of the socialist state.The documentary’s scenes, however, don’t support this narrative. Instead, the camera examines in detail every aspect of Štefan’s life in the mountains. In the countryside, where you don’t meet a living soul, one can lead a very happy and fulfilled life. And the fact that Štefan speaks to us through his short stories and novels, brings even more of a romantic flair. Believe me, you will succumb to it too - the patient lyrical camera and the sounds of nature will take care of that. Peter Kováč’s previous work as a cinematographer is proof that he found his visual style long before this documentary and he continues to evolve.
However, his glamorous camera is a hidden trap. It won’t be a surprise if you find yourself fascinated by pollen flittering in the warm light of the setting sun, pushing everything else out of your mind – even the confessions of Štefan Wolf. The inner dramatism of the narrative is a little vague and lacks gradation and thrill. The Lands of Strawman is a socially vital dreamlike look back to a pure life. We, the new generation, should proudly acknowledge the heritage of our ancestors, their way of life and their wisdom and we shouldn’t just embrace anything that is presented to us as new and modern. The documentary would therefore work best as a part of an expanded series examining our nation’s past, present and future. advertisement
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19INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF LOCAL TH
11 -15 June th
TELEVISIONS Young Author
CALL FOR ENTRIES - DEADLINE APRIL 2013 WOSH by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre 41 http://www.festival.sk
Animating the essence Feel Me Film production company and filmmaking in Slovakia text
pattern by Cristina Grosan
Emphasis both on individual style and teamwork, creation of unique images, defamiliarization and no genre limitation. These are aspirations shared in the production company Feel Me Film that truly wants to make you feel the essence of cinema.
The company has operated in Slovakia since 2006. It aims to reach a wide audience, not only children, because a fictitious world full of colours and imagination does not pall on you with passing years. The company produced the films Four and The Last Bus, and beside those two it has works in different stages of production– Fongopolis, About Dream and Snow, being developed by its director Ivana Laučíková and various related artists (Joanna Kozuch, Ivana Šebestová, Ivan Martinka, Martin Snopek). Four. This short film directed by Ivana Šebestová is the very first production of the Feel Me Film company. It was successfully broadcast by foreign television channels and won awards in various competitions. Four different points of view reflect individual personalities of four heroines, who don’t know each other, but their storylines merge in a bizarre accident with fatal consequences. Two morally antithetical males complement the female axis of the story. The short is set in 1937 and bursts with attractive colour images. The Last Bus. Ivana Laučíková and Martin Snopek codirected this film in very difficult conditions and were distrusted by officials. The development took five years with a full year delay in 2008. However, awards from major festivals and an Oscar nomination more than validated the filmmakers’ endurance. Technically it is an unusual crossover between live action and animation. Ivana Laučíková introduces it as a story of egoism and fear.
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Last Bus, still image
Wild forest animals (impersonated by masked actors) want to escape from human hunters and find a safe place. The combination of war and post-war traumas, the persecution of Jews, collective consciousness and guilt and individual tragedy makes for a powerful transgenerational statement. How should one act when she is at risk of her own life?
Dream and Snow. Ivana Šebestová likes classical painting techniques revived by cutout animation. She also likes narration similar to liveaction film. It took almost three years to move from preparation phase to the animation, because producers complied with rigorous artistic demands.
Four, still image (Ivana Šebestová’s previous film)
The film will be composed of two storylines. The first is the story of Maja, a young woman who longs for love and fantasizes of a dream lover. She comes to believe this illusion, entangling herself in imagination. The second storyline depicts a dream lover, wandering around a frozen land and writing letters to the girl. Maja can find happiness only if she is able to leave her beautiful illusion for the real world. The title clearly illustrates not only the narration but also a message. Fongopolis. Developed using a combination of hand-drawn animation, pixilation and compositing, this film will be an audiovisual collage, telling the story of a gifted young violinist who goes to the city of Fongopolis to become a member of the orchestra. In the jumble of people, signs, boards and sounds the youngster gets lost, so he can’t even find his train. Nevertheless he finds the power within and recovers harmony thanks to his talent. In the film, planned to run for 11 minutes, Joanna Kozuch as director, designer and author of the story will depict a potent theme.
In this brief overview we can see a tendency to highlight authors’ attitudes and ask questions on humanity in an authentic and artistically unique way. Filmmakers affiliated with Feel Me Film may de-individualize their characters giving them a fantastic or animal appearance, thus underlining an all-human essence, our common being. Their stories usually communicate a transparent, but not superficial message. The company is active in other media, too. In an attempt to give “voice” to the professional and critical community and to move closer towards the audience and fans of animation, Ivana Laučíková has been publishing Homo Felix, a biannual journal dedicated to animated film, since 2010. Feel Me Film’s next output that you can look forward to should be Šebestová’s About Dream and Snow, currently in post-production.
“Wild forest animals (impersonated by masked actors) want to escape from human hunters and find a safe place. The combination of war and post-war traumas, the persecution of Jews, collective consciousness and guilt and individual tragedy makes for a powerful transgenerational statement. How should one act when she is at risk of her own life? “ (The Last Bus, dir.: Ivana Laučíková & Martin Snopek)
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Freedom through mutual understanding
Peter Budinský’s works
pattern by Cristina Grosan
Peter Budinský is one of the most pro-
gressive Slovak short film makers. In recent years this young man has collected festival awards all around the world and
is developing new projects, including an
animated feature film. Yet it didn’t look like he would pursue a career in animation in his teenage days. After finishing a civil engineering course in high school, he wanted to study architecture. But in a
turn of fate, Peter chose a correspondence course in
graphic design at the
academy of animation. In his free time he attended animation classes, lectured by
the well-known animator Štefan Martauz. Having already been trained in drawing
in his prior education, his future profession was firmly outlined. Peter recollects
lectures with Martauz and how the liber-
ality of the craft made him confident in his decision: „It was very funny when the
teacher walked around the class as an animated figure or flew like a bird.“
That was just the beginning. Sticking to his earlier decision, Peter, a native of Bratislava, went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. Upon finishing the technical fields of the study, he made a debut short film as a bachelor work. Alfonzova mucha (Alfonz´s Fly 2008) is a ministory that combines a desire for freedom and a path of mutual understanding, featuring an unwieldy prisoner and a cunning spectacled fly that wanders into his cell. The narrative, comprised of seven minutes, is based on comic motifs, such as stuffing a meal into the prisoner’s almost empty head or the fly operating the prisoner. Although the film resolves itself with solidarity and mutual support, the disturbing nature of Budinský’s movies has been established. The merits of this short film did not go unnoticed. The film made it to the Next Reel International Film Festival 2010, organized by the prestigious New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. Peter was justifiably thrilled, but winning an award for the best animation, that really was the icing on the cake. Peter Budinský’s work continued with an internship at RITS in Brussels. Here he made another short called Bird of Prey (2009), dedicated to birds. Thematically it is again about freedom, this time relative. Birds are trying to adapt to a new environment, where they have been forcibly brought from their natural space. Loss of freedom propels their vandalism and rage, that leads to their removal, because people tend to get rid of dangerous things.
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The film’s legacy points to innocence, because in real life it would be civilians who would suffer. Birds of Prey won a special award of the jury at the VGIK (Russia) and Cinepsi (Belgium) film festivals. His latest completed project is five minutes long tWINs (2011). Made as a magister film, it has been rewarded in competitions such as the Kyiv International Short Film Festival short films festival or AniFest in Prague.
Alfonzova Mucha was made with Katarína Uhrová from the initial impulse of a struggle between a small insect and a prisoner and their search for understanding. Similarly, tWINs was penned with Patrik Pašš, a writer who came up with the idea of Siamese twins fighting in the ring. Peter admits that digital animation is not his thing. „Popular 3D movies are a pure computer exercise. This style doesn’t suit me, because in my opinion these animations are too realistic and lose the sense of authorship. I like a certain imperfection in this type of filmmaking.“
tWINs, still image
Additionally, it has been accepted at the upcoming Next Reels event. tWINs presents a theme of superiority and dependance in the story of Siamese twins, one much smaller and weaker than the other, who entertain audiences in a boxing ring. They share practically everything, including women (with a funny sex scene), until the moment when the smaller one can’t withstand further humiliation. Budinsky expresses the basic human need of physical and mental coexistence.
tWINs, still image
„My ideas come from everyday life and you can often find a part of myself there“. Peter values the primary impulse. As he says, in Belgium, once at breakfast he saw a flock of parrots. Amused by the fact that they lived wild there, he mixed this motif with other ideas (freedom vs. imprisonment, war, unrest in Africa) and made up a story for the film.
He made his first two shorts using the same method, described as drawing figures with a tablet directly to the computer and then linking them with handmade backgrounds. In tWINs, Peter rendered the background in the computer and then created figures using various techniques, for example a linocut. Peter is currently a freelancer and animation is his daily bread. However, after graduating it is harder for him to work on his own projects, as he has lost the creative space formerly provided by the school. He is developing two feature films. The first one, in cooperation with Patrik Pašš, is called Srdce Veže (Heart of Tower). While still in its early stages, it has already been supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. The other one, Kráľovstvo času (Kingdom of Time), is a cooperation of eight authors, each of whom adapts one fairy tale by the classical Slovak writer Pavol Dobšinský. Peter is working again with his familiar collaborator, Katarína Uhrová. It will be a nontraditional reading of Dobšinský, while retaining the magic of the original. While these projects fully get going, he is thinking of making another, yet unnamed, short film.
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THE Undiscovered Faces of slovak documentary film
Peter Kováčik’s short documentaries text
pattern by Cristina Grosan
Peter Kováčik belongs to the undiscovered faces of Slovak documentary film. I first encountered his work when his film Second Life (2010) won the Grand Prix at the international short film festival Early Melons in Bratislava. After having seen this film, it became clear that this young filmmaker is worth paying attention to.
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Second Life is about the escape from our reality to a virtual one. The protagonist is a mentally challenged young man. His daily reality is difficult for him, so he is looking for a way out. Apart from spending his free time playing the online game Second Life, he also writes fantasy tales and acts in the theatre. In all of this, we can see his effort to be recognized as a normal human being. „I think he really craves for that. And for real friends,“ adds Peter Kováčik. He treats the main hero’s story very sensitively. He does not make fun of him, or show him in awkward situations, even though the setup during production was rather complicated. „They called the police on us. That was really funny. For a while, we were talking to them in front of the house and after they’d checked us his father let us in, but only me and the cameraman. And only for an hour.“ In the end, the film was successfully completed, partly because the protagonist had left home. And we have a chance to see a unique human fate.
Peter Kováčik’s way to filmmaking wasn’t straightforward. He joined an amateur video group at university and focused on editing. After that, his path was shaped by a lot of luck and coincidence. When the private news channel TA3 was launched, with a friend’s help, Peter was offered a job there. So he began his career as a TV editor. Gradually, he started working for other broadcasters as well, including the public one, where he tried directing for the first time. Today he is responsible for most of the sports programmes and live broadcasts. Sometimes he makes documentary programmes or thematic projects. Besides working he went back to university and studied documentary filmmaking. Second Life is his graduate film. Peter is currently working on his third film, titled What Else He Has Left, a documentary about Dežo and Jakub Ursiny. Dežo Ursiny was one of the most important musicians in Czechoslovakia in the 60s and 70s, whose work has been acclaimed internationally.
Prior to Second Life, Kováčik shot the documentary Portrait to USA (2009). In this film, he tells the story of an elderly gentleman, a painter who once in his youth had the chance for a breakthrough in the United States. But private issues and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 interfered with his promising career. There is a certain thematic connection between these two films. Both of them deal with people who are, in one way or another, somehow handicapped in everyday life, but in spite of this, they try to fulfil their potential. „The painter was something different. It was a tough one. But when we finally figured him out, we suggested that we close, at least symbolically, the deal he had been paid for. He had been commissioned to paint pictures for a gallery. But it had never happened, so he painted a picture in the film, representing all those that could not be created,“ the director says.
Portrait to USA, still image
„Our film will not eulogize Dežo as an artist. It will be a film about a dying father who wants to pass over as much as he can to his adolescent son, and about the impossibility to avoid your predestination,“ Peter describes the project. Although What Else He Has Left is going to be longer than his previous films, Peter Kováčik does not underrate shorts: „I strive to end all my films before they could start to bore the viewers.“
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the slovak filmmakers illustration by Gรกbor Vรกllaji
a new generation of storytellers
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Andrei Kolenčík profile
born: 1984 Animation, documentary filmography and awards
Busy-body & Boar Strike Again (2009) The Star (2012): Jury honorable mention at the Leiden International Short Film Experience (NL) WWW kolencik.org
What topics do you concentrate on? The inspiration is all around us. In our society, culture and politics, as well as in the neighborhood. I don’t think I am oriented towards particular topics. But you can say that my previous works had humor, oddity and social critique in them. Whether it was the animations that mixed genres while addressing serious topics like corruption or a documentary where I wanted to faithfully portray my neighbor’s life without stylistic detours, my motivation has always been to make people look at things anew. But I don’t really know how my films affect viewers. Making films is important to me because that’s what I enjoy the most. A filmmaker friend once told me that I focus on outsiders who want to achieve more than they are capable of. I guess she had a point. I’m fascinated by their incredible will. Which one of your films are you most proud of? Right now it would be the latest, the documentary The Star. It’s not because it was the most successful at festivals, but because it was the most personal one too. I appreciate a lot that even though it was a low budget project, many colleagues helped to make it happen and without them, the film wouldn’t be that good. It was a pleasure making it.
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What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? Every filmmaker would love to have his film screened at a cinema because nothing can quite compare to that. At the same time I realize that a lot has changed and these online platforms seem like the future of short films. They might help popularize short films and get them back on the big screen. Because there’s nothing like cinema on a big screen. What are you working on right now? / What’s your next project? A short film Exhibition, that I co-directed with Peter Begányi, is in the sound post-production. The film is set in a local natural history museum and follows the lives of its employees who take care of the stuffed animals. Professional actors Dana Košická and Jan Budař in the leading roles were coupled with amateurs. In addition to that, I’m slowly developing a feature opus about the notorious market at Miletičova street (in Bratislava- editor’s note). But this project is classified for now. And this weekend I am making my next music video – video is my soft spot.
Jana Mináriková profile
born: 1980 documentary filmography and awards
Chicken Life (2005) User’s Manual (2008): Best International Short Film at the IX. International Short Film Festival „CORTOPOTERE“, Bergamo, IT 25 km2 (2011): No Budget Jury Award at the International Short Film Festival in Hamburg, DE; Special Award of the Grand Jury at the International Short Film Festival in Brno, CZ
What topics do you concentrate on?
What are the advantages of short films?
So far the topics I have worked on seem to be related to certain periods of my life and the problems I dealt with at the time. At first, it was about mysterious phenomena that nobody understood and I felt like even I didn’t know what I meant to say. Later it was a series on stereotypes and mass production. That was my subject for quite a long time. Recently I have become interested in portraits for the first time, like portraits of heroes. So my current subject is heroes. I’m inspired by true stories, but I take a highly stylized approach to them, so they’re going to end up somewhere between documentaries and feature films.
Absolutely everything about them. Lately I have been surprised to find out that I like extracts. Herbal extracts are various healing tinctures. The essence of what happened to us during the day could be the dream we have at night and the essence of every human being is his inner self, where he is truly himself. Extracts, tinctures, essences, central themes – that’s what I love because that is the most important thing. It’s compressed information. And a short film is such an extract. I don’t want to underestimate a feature film but for now, I don’t have what it takes to make one. At the moment, I’m an extract filmmaker.
Which of your films are you most proud of?
I’m working on a short about a guy who wanted to become a fish. It’ll be the next in the hero series. In addition, I have (so far just in my head) a story of a boy who lives in a lookout at the mountaintop and has a cool view of the world...
That’s not easy to say and I don’t have an answer. I’m not sure that “proud” is the best word for my feelings. Rather, I wonder how my film will live on its own, whether people will like it or not, and whether it will be selected for any festivals.
What’s your next project?
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Martin Snopek profile
What topics do you concentrate on? Personal themes such as alcohol (Everyday Grazing), friendship (Pik and Nik), selfishness and fear (The Last Bus). We received very positive feedback for The Last Bus from European festivals, praising the combination of various themes from recent European history – from the war, the Holocaust, communism and the situation of refugees to existential fear. Those themes are very relevant even today. Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1974 Animated films filmography and awards
Steps, Leaps, Years… and the Last One Turns off the Light (1996) Pik and Nik (2006) The Last Bus (2011): Grand Prix Maestro at the Animateka festival in Ljubljana (SI); Prix de la Jeunesse at the Clermont-Ferrand festival (FR); Grand Prix at the Tampere festival (FI)
Proud? I guess I’m proud of all of them. Besides directing, animated film lets you express yourself as a designer. I try to combine animation and art techniques or to create my own. The Raven and the Fox was created using a method similar to ceramic glaze applied on paper. Everyday Grazing was created as a cutout animation shot outdoors; Pik and Nik was all animated with beach sand. In The Last Bus, live actors wore masks of forest animals and acted in slow motion, while we photographed everything with a digital camera. What are the advantages of short films? Short art film doesn’t have minimal criteria for length, a few minutes or less can be enough. So you need less manpower and, of course,
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less money than for making a feature film. Personally, I can’t imagine making a feature animation in Slovak conditions. Maybe if it were an international co-production... What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? I am a fan of making amateur films with a mobile phone. Cameras integrated in cell phones can capture high quality images nowadays. There is a lot of Lego animations made with a cell phone, for instance. The popularity of films and television shows on the Internet is growing and there’s certainly a great future there. Why not, it would be great to have a film or TV archive with protected copyrights available on your mobile. What are you working on right now? / What’s your next project? We are preparing four graduation films with my students at the School of Design. One of them will also be animated with Lego figures and it should be available on the Internet. My own new project is at a very early stage; I’m trying to design interesting visuals and write a script for the story.
Katarína Kerekešová profile
What topics do you concentrate on? Storytelling via images is a key part of my life. Everything I experience inspires me and is translated to a filmic narrative. It could be an image that sticks in my mind while walking in the country or it could be a fragment of a story I have heard somewhere. I develop it and I don’t really think about whether this topic is personal to me or not.
What’s your next project? Right now I’m trying to produce an animated series Mimi & Lisa, for kids between 5 to 8 years. It’s a different working style to what I was used to because it’s a digitally processed cutout animation. The show will be about two girls, one of whom is blind and the other one, Lisa, keeps her eyes open a little too much, rushing everywhere a bit mindlessly.
What are the advantages of short films?
born: 1974 animated films filmography and awards
Origin of the World (2003) Ové Pictures (2010): Winner of the section ANIMA&LAB at the 9th Sedicicorto IFFF (IT); First prize at the Fano International Film Festival (IT); Second place at Animfest 2012 (GR) WWW foolmoonfilm.com
In terms of production, short film is a tough nut to crack. It usually finds its way mostly to festivals and arthouse distribution only. However, it’s a great starting point for a director to gain the necessary skills. What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? I don’t think those platforms are critical for arthouse short films. Sure, they support the distribution but I think they are more beneficial for commercial projects – like for example, animated series that are also supported by gaming or similar applications.
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Marek Janičík profile
What topics do you concentrate on? I prefer to deal with rural settings and unsophisticated folks. This is where I grew up and where I still live. Although I don’t quite fit in anymore, I am happy to observe this environment. I like to keep my films simple accordingly to the simplicity of the people they are about. At the same time I look for neat Forman-like situations brought by life. It’s something transient because it’s as if people no longer appreciated the little things around us. Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1987 Documentary, fiction filmography
Sisyphus (2011): winner of the International Film Festival TURfilm 2012 in Ostrava, CZ, winner of the International Festival of Small and Independent Film Productions 2011 in Šmartno, SI Cinema World (2012)
It’s hard to answer this question, but if I had to choose, it would be Sisyphus. It was my directorial debut and I gave it everything I had (not just financially). It was a very vital film to me and it taught me to think differently. What are the advantages of short films? Short film is a wonderful thing, because it reveals the talent in all of us. No matter if you are a screenwriter, director or cinematographer. Making short films really shows who is up to the challenge and who isn’t. It’s a kind of gateway to the world of cinema.
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What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? I feel as if joy has vanished from everything that surrounds us and everything we use. Therefore I’d rather meet up with friends and borrow their old videotapes because I would enjoy that. But, admittedly, it’s great that films can reach a much wider audience. What are you working on right now? What’s your next project about? Right now I’m filming a documentary series about Slovak artists for a certain gallery. We hope to raise awareness about Slovak art. Next year we would like to produce a new Slovak fairy tale but whether we will be able to make it is still anyone’s guess. The next few months will be critical for securing the resources. If we succeed, the kids can finally look forward to something fantastic and traditionally Slovak.
Peter Bebjak profile
What topics do you concentrate on? The approach to finding topics is diverse. Either I might get a script that attracts me so much that I want to work with it further or I find an impressive book and then I try to acquire the rights to film it. Or I might try and write something myself, and in that case I deal with personal topics, uncovering everything one tries to hide from the world. Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1970 Documentary, tv series, experimental films filmography and awards
Darkroom (2007) Voices (2010): Video prize at the Avanca Film Festival (PT); Official Jury Award for international professionals from cinema at the In Shadow festival (PT); Best film in the category Films on Art at the Asolo Film Festival (IT) Apricot island (2011): Audience Award as the Best Debut Feature Film at Tribeč (CZ),
Each film was created in a different time period and in different conditions. Whether it’s a feature film or a short, every one of them has a special meaning to me. They are all made in different styles or genres. I want to have fun making films.
What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? Every new technology that helps producers to present their work to the public and attract a potential audience is welcome. What’s your next project about? It’s about a boy hidden in a panel block building in Petržalka (a housing development in Bratislava - editor’s note) ignored by everyone. He does work other people despise. But one day he meets a person who will change his life.
What are the advantages of short films? Well, of course, it’s financially less challenging and I personally try various filmmaking methods that I can use later in feature projects.
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Peter Kováč profile
What topics do you concentrate on?
What are the advantages of short films?
Both with photography and films I am interested in people – their lives, their attitudes, their daily routines – everything that makes us who we are. I observe the elderly in particular, because they have values that are rare nowadays. Moreover, film has the amazing power to capture everything that surrounds us. People easily forget this, but it’s up to us not to let that happen.
I think anyone can make a short film. It’s an exemplary form of personal statement and because of its length it’s not that demanding to realize.
Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1986 Documentary filmography
Ars Poetica (2010) The Lands of Strawman (2011)
I am most proud of my graduation film, The Lands of Strawman. Thank God I was able to make a film with a strong protagonist in an extremely photogenic setting and with equipment that let me upgrade the style to a narrative technique. None of that is a given when it comes to “traditional” documentary. Since it was an authorial film, in a way it was also a personal confession, where I advocated my values and beliefs.
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What are you working on right now? What’s your next project? I’m currently working on things that should pay my bills. I don’t have time for a personal project at the moment, although I’m aware that it shouldn’t be all about about bread and butter. But if I start something, I’m sure it’ll be in a thoroughly minimalist style.
Ivana Šebestová profile
What topics do you concentrate on? I find the ideas for my films spontaneously, they arise from matters I deal with at the time – whether rational or emotional. I enjoy linking various motives and events in new relations, while being interested more in psychological and philosophical problems than social or political ones. Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1979 animated films filmography and awards
Lionardo Mio (2005): Best film at 8th European Festival of Film Schools (IT) Four (2007): Best European Short Film at Arcipelago Festival (IT); Grand Prix ex aequo at Animateka Festival (SI); Bronze „Jabberwocky“ at IFF Etiuda & Anima (PL)
I’m not sure whether I’m proud of a certain film more than others. Each project comes with new challenges and experience; each one becomes a part of my life. Anyway, Four was the most successful and the most important professionally. What are the advantages of short film? Unlike short film, feature animation is commercially constrained; features have big budgets that can’t be covered just with grants (of a single country), so they are very challenging in terms of creativity and production.
Short films are less attractive for the market, giving the filmmakers more freedom and resulting in more innovative and artistically groundbreaking works. What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? I belong to those sentimental filmmakers who like 35 mm film on a big screen. That is also my approach to filmmaking – I fill the image with many details that wouldn’t be discernible on a small screen. Therefore I prefer theatrical distribution and film festivals. What are you working on right now? What’s your next project? I’m currently finishing a film called About Dream and Snow; it’s a short animated film about a man looking for the perfect snowflake in remote frozen lands and a woman awaiting his return.
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Ivana Laučíková profile
What themes do you concentrate on? I choose a subject according to its importance, whether personal or social. If the subject is important, it means that it touches a nerve, that it speaks to us. I couldn’t always freely choose a theme. For instance, for the student film Cheers! we had to fulfill an assignment. I still think that was the greatest flaw of the film. Which of your films are you most proud of? The Last Bus. It’s the most advanced one both in message and craft.
born: 1977 animated films filmography and awards
Cheers (2005) The Last Bus (2011): Grand Prix Maestro at Animateka festival at Ljubljana (SI); Prix de la Jeuness at Clermont-Ferrande festival (FR); Grand Prix at Tampere festival (FI)
What are the advantages of short films? A good short is like a hitting the bull’s eye. It requires a concentrated expression in one thematic plane, without subplots and complementary motifs. These days, when people, overwhelmed by information and incentives, have difficulty to focus their attention for longer time spans, it’s even more attractive and I expect they will be distributed more widely .
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What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or Video On Demand as platforms for short film distribution? I think that film will in the near future largely move from cinemas and television to the Internet and new distribution channels. It is even more probable with short film, where the traditional ways of distribution are almost ineffective. Personally, I am not happy with the prospect of degradation to small screens. I presume that if this is going to be a major type of distribution, it will reduce both the visual expression of film and its content. What are you working on right now? What’s your next project? My company Feel Me Film is completing the shorts About Dream and Snow by Ivana Šebestová and Fongopolis by Joanna Kożuch. We are preparing an anthology of Slovak short animated films from the last 15 years, called Virvar and publishing Homo Felix, a journal on animation. And I am writing the story of a feature animated film, titled The Sun.
Vanda Raýmanová profile
What topics do you concentrate on? I think I usually deal with personal freedom, how to be yourself, but not alone. My work is mostly for children and that’s why the topics are existential, highlighting positive values and encouraging children to believe in themselves and in their future. I consider it essential in this age of moral decay and fast-food aesthetics. It’s a world where imagination and fantasy form a natural part of reality, giving me an immense creative freedom. Animated film allows me to offer children stories that make them relax, have fun and enrich themselves emotionally. Therefore I create adventures that are noisy, spirited, bold and funny. Which of your films are you most proud of?
born: 1973 animated films filmography and awards
Who is there? (2010): Best Short Animation Film at the ICFF Lucknow (IN), Special mention at Festival Internazionale del Cinema Il Fiore di ogni dove (IT), award for The Elephant, Children’s Programme at Animateka (SI)
I haven’t made enough films to decide, but I like Who’s There?. It was my personal project as an author, designer, director and producer and now the film has achieved its goal. I’m delighted that it was screened at more than 70 film festivals and, most of all, I’m glad that kids in thirty culturally diverse countries have seen it. It gives me great satisfaction that it was just as well accepted in Asia as it was in Europe and America. What are the advantages of short film? Short film provides filmmakers with an ideal platform to experiment with content or style.
It’s an excellent starting point for developing unique films and rare works of art that would otherwise perhaps never see the light of day. It allows you to apply various non-narrative and artistic approaches and lets you cover a variety of topics, you can use any genres and rare animation techniques – it’s like heaven for me. What is your attitude towards smartphones, smart TV or VODs as platforms for short film distribution? Even though they say that distribution without physical media will gradually absorb all the other forms of distribution, I don’t think that will happen. On the contrary, I welcome this means of distribution because it provides an excellent opportunity to promote short films which struggle in theatrical or TV distribution despite the popular demand. What are you working on right now? What’s your next project? I’m developing two projects simultaneously. The Tots, an animated series is in pre-production and Bob and Mia, a short animation, is about to be filmed. They’re both intended for kids three to five years old. The Tots is based on the concept of Who’s there?: two brothers getting into incredible adventures, always learning something new about life and about themselves. Bob and Mia is a crazy musical comedy, where I will resume my experiments with 2D animation for children.
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world of shorts
editor in chief Michal Klembara editors Juraj Kovalcík, Michal Klembara, Juraj Štastný art director Cristina Grosan contributors Petra Adamková, Lukáš Slovák, Zdenká Mlynáriková, Radoslava Cenká, Juraj Kovalcík, Michal Klembara, Gábor Vállaji proofreading Zsuzsanna Deák, Maia Christie, Alex Ward project coordination Anita Libor cover photo still image from The Last Bus a short film directed by Ivana Laucíková and Martin Snopek content spread still images from Who‘s There? - a short film directed by Vanda Raýmanová and Dust and Glitter by Ové Pictures World of Shorts – Slovak Short Cinema is published with support of Košice 2013 as part of the Talent Kampus project within Creative Industry Toolkit 2012 published in 2013 by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre Published in Hungary. Printed in Slovakia.
Printed on AMBER GRAPHIC 130 gsm paper.
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World of Shorts- a magazine published by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre. World of Shorts – Slovak Short Cinema is published with...
Published on Jun 19, 2013
World of Shorts- a magazine published by Daazo.com - the European Shortfilm Centre. World of Shorts – Slovak Short Cinema is published with...