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“The key for me as a producer is to be fascinated by the film's protagonist or to have a strong desire to explore a topic-driven story”

Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...

Alice Tabery • Producer, Cinepoint


The Czech Producer on the Move discusses how her passion for innovative storytelling fuels her exploration of captivating documentaries and her interest in international co-production

Alice Tabery • Producer, Cinepoint

We sat down with accomplished Prague-based film producer Alice Tabery of Cinepoint, selected to be this year’s Czech representative in the European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move programme. A FAMU graduate with a passion for creative documentaries and auteur fiction films, Her diverse portfolio includes successful collaborations on award-winning projects like New Life, Adam Ondra: Pushing the Limits [+see also:
film profile
, Reconstruction of Occupation [+see also:
film profile
, and Eva Nová [+see also:
film review
interview: Marko Škop
film profile
. She shares her experiences and insights into the world of film production and discusses her international background, the challenges and opportunities in international co-productions, and her latest thought-provoking projects in documentary filmmaking.

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Cineuropa: With your diverse background in film education across various institutions and countries, how do you think your experiences have shaped your approach to film production, and what aspects of these different educational systems have influenced your work the most?
Alice Tabery
: With my bi-national background and life in France and the Czech Republic, I've always been curious about filmmaking approaches in different countries. My studies allowed me to explore international film production, creative processes, and discussions about films and topics. Internships in various schools in Germany, France, and Mexico and in companies greatly influenced me, not through system differences, but through diverse perspectives from students and teachers on scripts, films, storytelling, and cinematic expression.

Over the years, you have focused on producing creative documentaries and auteur films in international co-productions. What do you think are the most significant challenges and opportunities when working on international co-productions, and how do you navigate them?
Documentaries in the Czech industry have evolved recently, with stronger visuals and unique dramaturgy, sometimes resembling fiction films but still grounded in reality. These documentaries are now seen as standalone cinematic art, yet budgets remain limited as institutions prioritise fiction films. International co-productions have become a common financing method, which can be challenging due to partnerships between sometimes unfamiliar producers, requiring openness and constant adaptation.

Cinepoint has been expanding its focus to debut films and animation. What inspired this decision, and what do you think are the unique challenges and opportunities in working with debut filmmakers and in the animation industry?
My colleague Kristina Škodová brings short animation to our company, showcasing Czech talent in this area, which I appreciate and share with my kids. Many films I produce are debuts. While producing debuts is challenging due to longer production times, financing hurdles, and sometimes directors' inexperience, debut filmmakers bring enthusiasm and fresh perspectives. They can also access specialised support, funding, and distribution, such as festival competitions for first or second films.

Your work on documentaries like Traces of a Landscape and On Your Marks! has gained international recognition. What do you think are the essential qualities of a compelling documentary, and how do you approach finding stories that resonate with audiences worldwide?
My key as a producer is to be fascinated by the film's protagonist or to have a strong desire to explore a topic-driven story, believing my fascination will be shared by future audiences. I enjoy visually striking storytelling. Some stories feature unique Czech phenomena that connect with audiences, while others tackle more universal topics, encouraging viewers to explore and contemplate shared issues.

As a producer, how do you balance the creative vision of the filmmakers you work with and the practical aspects of film production, such as budget constraints, distribution, and reaching audiences?
In my experience, finding balance is easier in documentary teams than in fiction filmmaking, likely due to higher pressures and budgets in fiction. Documentaries often involve improvisation and editing-room decisions, allowing for more flexibility and freedom to make changes in telling the story.

The Czech film industry has a rich history and a strong presence in European cinema. How do you see the future of Czech films in the global market, and what strategies do you think are essential for Czech filmmakers and producers to maintain and expand their international presence?
I'm optimistic about the future of Czech cinema, with many great films reaching international festivals. Short films and animation have seen significant success, but the lack of a distribution system in the Czech Republic limits accessibility for a wider local audience. Participating in the European film market and international co-productions can be challenging and require adaptation that increases the film budget, but it opens up new markets, ideas, and partnerships, providing a valuable international perspective during development and production.

With the rise of streaming platforms and changing distribution models, how do you see the future of independent films, particularly documentaries, and animations? What strategies do you think are crucial for independent filmmakers and producers to adapt to these changes and ensure the sustainability of their projects?
As traditional distribution falters, new models must be embraced. Documentaries, for instance, can be creatively connected to existing events or institutions to reach audiences. Instead of passively placing films on platforms, producers in collaboration with the distributors should actively find the right niche audience. A promising approach involves personalised platforms, where distributors and producers directly target and distribute their films, fostering a closer connection with viewers like Artinii [read the interview].

What projects are you bringing to the Producer on the Move initiative?
I am currently working on a hybrid documentary, which is a kind of documentary film that I would like to explore, seeing the latest tendency to make documentaries in a fictionalised way. The film is called Playtopia, directed by Bara Jichova Tyson, a Czech-American director. It’s a film that’s addressing a global topic, yet it started as a personal story for the director when she became a mother in New York City where she lived for 20 years and started to question the values of society. 

In the film, she is investigating the question of how an environment shapes our kid's imagination. Do kids understand for example the word “freedom” differently based on where and how they grow up? Through the eyes of 8 diverse kids, the film is addressing different topics such as power, inequality, gender, and the environment. The film is done in a unique playful way. 

My other documentary Kaprálová is about Czechoslovak composer and conductor Vítězslava Kaprálová, who lived in the 1930s. She was a courageous, amazing woman who in many aspects preceded her time and succeeded in the man’s world of classical music. We will explore her inspiring story and music through current students conducting at Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where Kaprálová studied. The film will question how the world of classical music has changed — or not — for female conductors since that time. The film is directed by Petr Záruba and it’s a Czech-French co-production that will be shot mainly in France, but also in the Czech Republic and the USA.

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