Jan Švankmajer readies a new feature
by Martin Kudláč
- Legendary Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer is to combine the Čapek Brothers and Franz Kafka in his next project
The living legend of Czech cinema and prominent figure of the Surrealist movement Jan Švankmajer is not one to rest on his laurels. At the age of 79, he remains very active and is currently developing his first new feature since 2010's Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) [+see also:
film profile]. The Insects will be loosely based on the play From the Life of Insects by the Čapek Brothers, an allegorical comedy from 1922 written as a critique of contemporary society.
In Švankmajer's interpretation, six amateur thespians meet in a pub to rehearse the Čapeks' play, while their personal stories interweave with those of the characters they are about to play. The play is intended as a backdrop in which insects behave like humans and humans like insects. The message contained in Kafka's The Metamorphosis has also left its mark on Švankmajer's new feature: “From the Life of Insects is a misanthropic play. My screenplay only extends this misanthropy, as man is more like an insect and this civilisation is more like an anthill. One should also remember the message in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis,” said the director, hinting that the film will condemn the exploitative character of modern society.
The Insects is characterised as a black comedy, and the form it takes should be similar to that of Surviving Life – ie, a combination of live action and animation: “The type of animation we choose, as well as the overall design concept, should emerge from the formal experimentation we have to conduct before we start shooting. What I can say is that we will not be using computer animation (which I have strong reservations about), but we will rely, as in my previous films Lunacy [+see also:
film profile] and Surviving Life, on traditional or ‘classic’ animation,” revealed the makers of the film.
The movie is currently in the pre-production phase; principal photography is planned for January 2015 and will take place in Slovakia. Jaromír Kallista (Athanor) is producing, with Juraj Galvánek (C-GA Film) and Bady Minks (Amour Fou Filmproduktion) acting as co-producers. The project is being supported by the Czech State Cinematography Fund.