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Ondrej Zima • Evolution Films

Producers on the move 2012 – Czech Republic

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- "A mutual trust between the artist and the producer is crucial", says Ondrej Zima, who stands behind both small and highly successful Czech and Slovak films.

Ondrej Zima • Evolution Films

One of the three establishing figures of Evolution Films, Ondrej Zima has helped develop a small company into an important force on the Czech market, producing not only feature films, but also documentaries, music videos or TV series. The popular Okresni prebor has not only become a landmark of Czech television humor, but also a basis of a recent box office hit.

Cineuropa: You have been collaborating with director Jan Prusinovsky since his debut Frankie Is a Womanizer. What are the advantages of walking the same path since the beginning?
Ondrej Zima: Jan and I have known each other since studying at Prague’s FAMU and knowing each other well enough so that many things work sort of automatically is definitely an advantage. What I also consider crucial, is mutual trust between the artist and the producer, which takes time to develop and I think we have already managed that with Jan.

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Okresni prebor is the current Czech box office hit and also a comedy both smart and accessible for mass audiences. Do you see an international appeal in this film?
I definitely do even though the topic dealing with village football may seem regional. From my point of view, the „think globally, narrate regionally“ works, as many films including Forman’s Fireman’s Ball show. Apart from that, football is a totally international topic and I am convinced that a team similar to our Slavoj Houslice can be found anywhere in the world.

Another young director that you collaborate with is Jakub Kroner, who has recently released Love – a box office hit in Slovakia. How did this occur?
The collaboration on Love has come about through another project of ours – Don’t Stop. In its pre-production I have met Jakub’s producer in Bratislava and while talking, I learned that they were preparing a project together. As I really liked Jakub’s first feature Bratislavafilm I mentioned that we would like to work on his next one.

Apart from fiction films, you have produced documentaries. Do you fell that their commercial potential in the Czech republic is rising?
I am happy about Czech documentaries being more widely released in Czech cinemas recently, however I am afraid that apart from a few exceptions they do not signal a big box office income, which unfortunately has recently been a case not only of documentaries.

You are currently on board of Bård Breien’s new co-production film. How did you come across this opportunity and how different is it from producing domestic films?
We have known about this project for about two years, since my colleague Pavel Bercik met our Norwegian partners in Cannes, and the project started to shape up last year. As far as the differences are concerned, the administrative of international co-productions is more demanding, but each and every project is different and unique in our eyes.

You are one of 2012´s Producers on the Move – what expectations are you leaving with for the panel?
I am honored and pleased to bet his year’s Czech representative on this panel. The priority of our company is to participate on international co-productions (both as a minor and major partner), thus I hope to establish as many new contacts as possible.

If you compare the vision you had when establishing Evolution Films and the current status of your company – how distant or close are the dreams and reality?
Evolution Films were established with a vision of a middle-sized production company, which will produce mainly its own projects and also actively work as a minor European co-producer. From this perspective, we are still only staring with a long road ahead, but our films up to now show that the direction we took is correct.

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