Maria Prochazkova • Director
Who’s Afraid of the Wolf
by Theodore Schwinke
Maria Prochazkova's second feature after Shark in the Head (2005), Who’s Afraid of the Wolf, screened in the Berlinale Generation Kplus competition and picked up Best Feature Film and Best Performance at the 22nd Finale Plzen festival in April. One of 10 films in the Variety Critics' Choice selection at this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Who’s Afraid of the Wolf is distributed by Bonton Film in the Czech Republic. Film Europe is handling international sales.
Cineuropa: Where did the idea for this story come from?
Maria Prochazkova: Several dramatic family stories popped up around me within a short period of time. I did not proceed directly from them because the audiences would not have believed us, even in a fiction film, but I was inspired by the theme, which is all around us and to which everyone can more or less personally relate.
Dorota Dedkova won the Best Performance in Plzen for her role in the film. How did you get such a marvelous performance from her?
We had good luck in casting the little girl – that is the foundation. Dorotka is very perceptive, intelligent, patient, empathetic and mainly responsible, so our working relationship was both pleasant and like that of peers. I treated her like an adult; we always went through the scene we were preparing, and I would feed her the lines with the intonation I had in mind.
Who’s Afraid of the Wolf is a sophisticated story about complex issues. Is it wrong to call it a “children's film”?
It’s not wrong, but I don’t think it is confined to that. Yes, the main character is a child, a little girl, but through her eyes we are seeing the adult world. I think it is simply a movie.
How did you finance the film?
Slowly. It was my second feature film with producer Vratislav Šlajer from Bionaut Films, after Shark in the Head. We shot it on a low budget (CZK 17 mil.), so we ultimately managed to finance it with domestic funding. We received a grant from the Czech cinematography fund, and Czech Television helped a lot with its co-production contribution. And we were naturally helped by the goodwill of affiliated studios, where we did all the post-production, and their substantial discounts.
During pre-production, the film generally seemed risky to everyone – a challenging subject matter, a combination of genres, a child actress in the main role, which the film’s success depended on. It was often just me and the producer who believed in the film.
Has the film secured distribution abroad?
At the moment, we have theatrical distribution confirmed in Germany, France, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania. We are holding talks with other countries and are confident that we’ll make a deal. Personally, I am very keen on getting distribution in France and Poland, as I see common threads in our cinema.
How do you see the state of contemporary Czech cinema?
Complicated. There are talented filmmakers here but the product is becoming increasingly dictated by the market. Trying to meet the benchmarks of box office hits is not natural for us. We are better at making intimate movies than big flashy ones, but they don’t gain the producers’ trust and the moviegoers aren’t as interested in them.
How successful are Czech filmmakers in telling stories that can interest a broader European audience?
I think the stories are here and that they are being made. It’s just that these aren’t always the films that get a chance to be shown outside [the country].
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