Slovenčina                                                              19.05.2022, 13:17
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Five New Slovak Films Compete in Karlovy Vary

From 20 to 28 August, the 55th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (IFF) programme will offer several Slovak co-production films. Four of them are shown in the main competition. For the first time, the competition sections of the festival will also open to documentaries. Twelve works will compete for the Crystal Globe.

Selected documentaries include At Full Throttle, the latest film of director Miro Remo, who is also one of the co-producers. In the past, Remo’s documentary on rehabilitation of prisoners Comeback (2014) and a portrait of a prominent Slovak musician Richard Müller This Is Not Me (2016) were in the official selection. From the beginning, the intention was to shoot a genre documentary from a racing environment. “We were looking for a life of putting up a good fight, and we found a good fight for one’s very own life,” Remo says on his website in an interview with Czech producer Vít Janeček. Slovak and Czech public televisions and both national film funds took part. The protagonist of the film is an ex-miner Jaroslav, who set up a business after the revolution in 1989. Later, he found himself up to his neck in debt, and his marriage and relationships with children fell apart. Today, he lives with his girlfriend Jitka. At the same time, they form a duo of a racer and a coach / car mechanic. “We were looking for a character with a compelling internal conflict, and his life was full of unsolvable situations which are hard to come by for most people,” said the director. According to him, Jaroslav’s story represents many similar ones in which the loss of illusions did not lead to surrender.

Kids Made for Success
While Slovak director Remo shot in the Czech Republic, Czech director Erika Hníková found the heroes of Every Single Minute in Slovakia. She was inspired by the story of a successfully drafted 18-year-old hockey player by the NHL, coming as a result of his parents’ detailed and planned effort. At that time, Hníková was exploring the question of the extent to which parents should plan their children’s lives in advance. She was looking for answers in the city of Žilina in the Hanuliaks family. The young couple adjusts everything to raising a top athlete out of their son Miško. “The Hanuliaks are interesting not only for extreme upbringing of their son and their just as extreme sacrifice for him but also for their relationship, family background and values which they share,” said the director whose documentaries The Beauty Exchange (2003) and I Guess We’ll Meet at the Eurocamp (2006) were awarded at the Jihlava festival and Matchmaking Mayor (2010) at the Berlinale.

Winners Return
Slovak co-producer of Every Single Minute is Punkchart films, producing also Olmo Omerzu’s new feature The Bird Atlas. His previous film Winter Flies (2018) won the Best Director Award in the main competition in Karlovy Vary. After three films with protagonists who have not yet crossed the threshold of adulthood, Omerzu enters the adult world and provides a confrontation of an aging successful business owner and a company’s accountant with (virtual) reality. According to him, The Bird Atlas, starring Miroslav Donutil and Alena Mihulová, tries to capture the present time and its metamorphoses, generation gaps but also globalisation. It depicts the world of modern communication technology as well as its weak points, while complicated family relationships contribute the element of suspense to the story. The tension and anxiety keep building up, yet it is unclear who stands against whom. “We believe that our new joint project, thanks to the topical issue and tension, will be a direct continuation of the success of previous films,” said co-producer Ivan Ostrochovský from Punkchart films about the third collaboration with the director.

The second Slovak minority film in the main competition happens to be Saving One Who Was Dead by director Václav Kadrnka. It was created in co-production with the Slovak company Silverart. The story is based on director’s personal experience with his father suffering a stroke. “It all depends on the extent to which the filmmaker has dealt with the topic,” Slovak co-producer of the film Katarína Krnáčová addresses the extent to which the creator's strong emotional involvement in the project constitutes either an advantage or a disadvantage. “If the topic has not yet been processed, it should not be just cobbled together, however, this was not Václav’s case,” adds Krnáčová. Kadrnka’s previous film Little Crusader won the main award for Best Feature Film at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2017.

Feral Ones
Furthermore, Slovakia is to be represented in the second competition section of the festival East of the West, for which twelve films were selected. The section provides an opportunity for debuts and second features from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa. Co-produced by Mátyás Prikler and Zora Jaurová from the company MPhilms on Slovak side, the film Wild Roots directed by Hajni Kis was selected for the competition as well. Kis already attracted attention with her student works. Her short film Beautiful Figure (2016) was nominated for the Student Academy Awards and represented Hungary at more than a hundred festivals. The graduate film Last Call (2018) was broadcasted on HBO and ARTE televisions. In similar fashion, her feature debut is also based on personal experience. The main character of Wild Roots is quick-tempered ex-con Tibor who works as a bouncer in a club. He had not seen his daughter for seven years, and the grandparents, with whom the daughter is growing up, would prefer it to stay that way. But twelve-year-old Niki apparently inherited something from her father’s wild nature and, despite being forbidden to do so, seeks him out.
Although the Karlovy Vary IFF did not come about last year, the Industry section Eastern Promises took place online. Wild Roots won the TRT Award as the best project of the Works in Progress platform.

Slovak Promises in the Eastern Promises
The industry section of the Karlovy Vary IFF is no exception to the strong presence of the Slovak production in this year edition. Composed of several programmes dedicated to different aims, the selections include two Slovak feature film projects in the postproduction stage.

This year, Works in Progress accommodate films from fiction to documentary spectre, as the organisers, as in above mentioned sections, concluded them “despite their differences, to possess the same artistic value”. Consequently, they indiscriminately vie for the same awards. The presentation of the projects in the Works in Project line-up will be taking place online. From the applications, the industry team selected Victim, a feature debut of Michal Blaško. The film further plays with the ideas introduced in the short March (2018), also written by Jakub Medvecký. A young Ukrainian boy Igor claims that he was assaulted by three young Roma. His mother Irina demands justice and is met with great solidarity by her new society. The mother is ready to stand by her son no matter what. Until the moment she realises that his narrative is full of loopholes.

The co-operation of the festival with First Cut Lab and First Cut +, two interconnected programmes founded and directed by Matthieu Darras dedicated to film editing (First Cut Lab) and further boost through promotion and distribution strategies (First Cut +). Also thanks to its participation in the special First Cut Lab Slovakia, Power by Mátyás Prikler continues in postproduction also with the First Cut +. This might be the first-time experience for Mátyás Prikler in the role of director – as the producer, he took part in the programme last year with Wild Roots.

Unseen Occupation of Czechoslovakia and Prospects for the Future
More Slovak works will be showcased in the Special Screenings section of the festival in which Jan Šikl’s documentary Reconstruction of the Occupation will have its world premiere. The director happens to be a long-time collector of amateur family films, and the film presents hitherto unpublished footage from almost a four-hour-long recording of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the occupation forces in 1968, discovered thanks to his hobby. The Slovak co-producers are PubRes and Radio and Television of Slovakia. The Special Screenings section is to present Michaela Pavlátová’s My Sunny Maad. On Slovak side, the film is co-produced by Petr Badač’s production company BFILM, and it was to world premiere in June at the festival in Annecy. The story of a Czech woman who falls in love and leaves for the unknown country of Afghanistan won the Jury Prize in Annecy and thus expanded the large collection of awards for Pavlátová’s films.

Traditionally, filmmakers who are presented at the festival within the European Film Promotion Future Frames programme have every prospect to be just as successful in the future. With the subheading of Generation Next of European Cinema, every year, it offers the opportunity for ten selected promising students or graduates to present their works to the audience and the media at the festival as well as to meet with the curators of other festivals and to network. For the programme, the films are nominated by national representatives of EFP, while Slovakia is being represented by the Slovak Film Institute. Last year, the programme introduced director Matúš Ryšan and his film Out of Pure Conscience (2020) online. This year, Future Frames will take a hybrid form and provide an industry focused event online and an on sight presentation of the films at the festival. Slovakia will be represented by Kateřina Hroníková and her feature Rheum. The main characters are Libuša and Jaromír. Years in a vicious circle of routine, despite their physical closeness, led them to emotional alienation. But the change is in the air...

Text: Matúš Kvasnička, Kristína Aschenbrennerová
Source: Film.sk Cannes & Karlovy Vary Edition 2021

published: 11.08.2021
updated: 17.08.2021