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KARLOVY VARY 2024 Competition

Adam Martinec • Director of Our Lovely Pig Slaughter

“Humour opens up the audience's heart, making it easier to smuggle in the heavier moments”

by 

- The director discusses his use of the pig-slaughter tradition to explore generational and gender tensions, plus his influences from the Czechoslovak New Wave

Adam Martinec  • Director of Our Lovely Pig Slaughter
(© Film Servis Karlovy Vary)

Adam Martinec, an emerging talent from the Czech Republic, has quickly garnered international attention with his evocative short films. His works such as Sugar and Salt and Anatomy of a Czech Afternoon have made an impression on the festival circuit, including at San Sebastián and Karlovy Vary. Martinec’s filmmaking is distinguishable by its exploration of life’s complexities, blending the tragic with the banal in a manner reminiscent of the Czechoslovak New Wave. Cineuropa sat down with the director to talk about his feature debut, Our Lovely Pig Slaughter [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Adam Martinec
film profile
]
, which has premiered in the Crystal Globe Competition at Karlovy Vary.

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Cineuropa: Our Lovely Pig Slaughter uses the fading tradition of pig slaughter as a lens to explore generational and gender tensions. Why did you choose this tradition?
Adam Martinec:
I first chose the pig slaughter itself, and only then did I fill it with characters and their stories. I intuitively felt that it was an event with great dramatic potential, while being very economical in terms of time and space in the narrative. It is also a tradition that is disappearing before our very eyes.

The film echoes the Czechoslovak New Wave in both form and style, and partially follows in the tradition of Bohumil Hrabal and Milan Kundera. Can you elaborate on your specific influences?
The Czechoslovak New Wave has indeed been a significant influence on my approach to Our Lovely Pig Slaughter. This movement, known for its unique blend of realism, dark humour and social critique, provided a rich source of inspiration for both the form and the style of our film.

One specific influence is the way the New Wave films often explore the lives of ordinary people and their struggles, highlighting the absurdities of everyday life. Bohumil Hrabal’s works, for instance, are masterful at depicting the tragicomic aspects of human existence. I aimed to capture a similar tone, balancing moments of humour with deeper, more poignant reflections on generational and gender tensions.

Stylistically, the Czechoslovak New Wave's use of innovative cinematography and a certain raw, unpolished aesthetic was crucial in forming the visual language of our film. We aimed for a naturalistic look, employing handheld cameras and natural lighting to create an intimate and immersive experience, much like the films of that era. However, the fact that someone compares us to the New Wave always makes me feel embarrassed. It’s comparing the incomparable.

Your previous works transcend the domestic perspective while maintaining a strong sense of Czech identity. How do you balance these dual aspects?
I believe that my works can communicate with foreign audiences because they deal with archetypes that are common to all of us. On the other hand, preserving a specific national identity can attract foreign viewers – I would personally like to see Anatomy of a Chinese Afternoon, Anatomy of an Argentine Morning or Anatomy of an Icelandic Afternoon, for instance.

Serving as a production assistant, editing assistant and second camera on various projects during your studies at FAMU must have provided you with some diverse experiences. How did these roles influence your evolution as a director?
During my studies, I did everything – I’ve been AD, driver, catering, runner, DoP, plus I act and so on. These experiences are absolutely essential. The fact that I don't expect unrealistic performances from other crew members significantly speeds up our collaboration and improves our mutual relationships. I've been in their shoes and understand what each crew member is dealing with.

Your films exhibit a distinct visual style. Can you talk about your approach to cinematography?
David Hofmann
shot all of my school projects. The fact that we understand each other and have shared experiences from previous projects is crucial, but more importantly, David is extremely talented. We enjoy working together mainly because we deliberately reject any film references. Instead, we discuss photography or painting, or simply go out and experiment to see what works.

The film blends tragic elements with comic undertones. How do you achieve this balance?
Humour opens up the audience's heart, making it easier to smuggle in the heavier moments. It doesn't always work, and it's possible that the weight I feel in certain characters won't affect anyone – but I hope at least they'll be entertained. I don't want to rob anyone of their time by having them watch something unbearable.

Can you describe the process of how you approach the intricacies of family dynamics and personal relationships across the three generations?
This would probably require quite an extensive response. I selected the characters who could fully, or at least partially, carry meanings that were important to me. I also often set them against each other purely out of a desire for a mutual collision. However, I did everything I could with regard to credibility.

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