Radovan Síbrt • Producer
“I am more concerned about topics than country of origin”
- The Czech co-producer of the Golden Bear-winning Touch Me Not, Radovan Síbrt, has been picked for the Producers on the Move initiative
Director-producer Radovan Síbrt was picked for European Film Promotion’s 2018 Producers on the Move at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, representing the Czech Republic. Síbrt graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague, and then went on to study directing documentary films at FAMU. His early works won several accolades. In 2010, he co-founded production company Pink. Síbrt co-produced the Golden Bear-winning film Touch Me Not [+see also:
interview: Adina Pintilie
film profile] as well as When the War Comes [+see also:
film profile], which was also unveiled at the Berlinale.
Cineuropa: You co-produced this year’s Golden Bear-winning film, Touch Me Not. Why did you board this project?
Radovan Síbrt: We co-produced another Romanian project, Cinema Mon Amour [+see also:
interview: Alexandru Belc
film profile], and when we attended the official theatrical premiere in Bucharest, we met various people from the minister of the culture to different producers. And I also met a producer I knew from the Ex Oriente workshop. We talked about this project she was working on and she told me about the problems they had with financing the project. And she very cautiously asked if I would be interested to step in. I only saw the teaser – I did not even read the script – and I knew immediately that it is a great project despite the complicated format and the unorthodox narrative style. That’s probably what drew me to the project. It was love at first sight.
As you mentioned, you worked on Cinema Mon Amour, and the Czech Republic also co-produced another successful film, Aferim! [+see also:
interview: Radu Jude
film profile]. Why do you think that the scope of the average Central European co-production is expanding geographically?
I think the Czech Film Fund established clear rules for co-productions and the fund judges minority co-production positively which was not the case for some time. Personally, I do not need to create the Central European model artificially. Topics of projects frequently surpass regions that are far away from each other. In the case of Touch Me Not, I did not care where the project originated. Naturally, you can have local topics but you also have universal topics where geography does not play a role because the topics will always be more important. I am more concerned about topics than about the country of their origin.
Right now, we are working on Czech-Iranian project Don’t Gaze Long into the Abyss by Mohammadrez Farzad. I am searching for co-producing partners across territories and I do not care whether they are from the Visegrad region or any other region.
Can you elaborate a little more on Don’t Gaze Long into the Abyss?
We are working on a story about Czech director, Jiří Polák, who fled to Switzerland after the Russian invasion in 1968. There he found an ad that Iran is looking for directors, artists. So he ended up in Iran and lived there in freedom. Eventually, he was displaced by the royal family to the semi-deserted Iranian island Hormuz in the first half of the 1970’s and posed there as a kind of governor. He had to flee in 1978 and ended up in France. Don’t Gaze Long into the Abyss is basically a philosophic essay about freedom and searching for freedom. The project morphed from a documentary format into an essayistic one. We are working on the script now and looking for co-producers. And Cannes is the ideal place for this.
You also had another project at Berlin this year, When the War Comes, a Czech-Croatian co-production, while the topic under investigation takes place in Slovakia.
The director Jan Gebert approached us with the topic and since it was a very sensitive subject, we hesitated to have a Slovakian co-producer. We were afraid that the information about the project would leak since results of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund are public and our explications could have easily reached subjects in the documentary. The film is about the creation of a personality cult and a totalitarian regime in a microspace. So we decided to ditch the possibility of a Slovakian co-production. Originally, there was a Croatian line in the film, very topical, that eventually did not make into the final cut, so we invited Croatian partners to step into the project who were tackling similar problems as the central topic of When the War Comes.
You are working on another project, Lust for Life, which you are also directing. How did that happen?
I studied directing of documentary film and moved to producing for various reasons. When I was studying at FAMU, I was looking for a strong producer. I wanted a partner that will talk with me about those films and who also would be my first critic. And I failed to find somebody like that. So I was thinking that I would be interested in offering this kind of partnership I was seeking for myself to others. I do not have time to direct and I guess it is a toll that my activities as a producer take. Me directing projects is not a priority, the priority are the projects of others. Lust for Life is a documentary about a band, well-known in the Czech Republic, whose members are handicapped. I am trying to make a film how to live life to the fullest even when your fate does not seem favourable. It will be an optimistic film about life worth living even if you have been dealt a bad hand.
What are your plans for Producers on the Move?
I do not usually expect immediate results from this type of events but rather in the long run. It is important to meet like-minded people dedicated to making significant projects and projects about the world around us. It is complicated to make these kind of films with only one financial source. We are looking for partners with similar interests like ours. I will try to find partners for Don’t Gaze Long into the Abyss in Cannes.
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