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Marie-Magdalena Kochová • Director of 3MWh

“It means a lot to any filmmaker to see that their film resonates with an audience coming from a different cultural and historical background”


- The Czech director chatted with us about her self-described ‘film poem’ revolving around a nuclear power plant worker, screening as part of EFP's Future Frames

Marie-Magdalena Kochová • Director of 3MWh

Having premiered at this year’s IFFR, 3MWh follows the fortunes of a counting-obsessed nuclear power plant worker who has set a maximum limit on how much electricity he wants to consume. This ‘film poem’ – as described by its creator - is an abstract and experimental affair by Czech director Marie-Magdalena Kochová, a graduate of FAMU. She’s now returning to Karlovy Vary with 3MWh, screening within EFP’s Future Frames, as well as with her documentary feature The Other One [+see also:
film review
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hich will enjoy a Special Screening at the festival. Cineuropa caught up with her to discover more about both films.

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Cineuropa: Could you give us an idea of what went into creating 3MWh?
Marie-Magdalena Kochová:
3 MWh is a political statement, in my mind, a metaphor for society, but it’s also a very personal film which I wanted to use to confront my fear of mortality. I tried to make it multilayered, to include various topics which might resonate with the audience. I believe that everything is connected and so I tried to connect worlds which are seemingly very different - rationality, science, philosophy, but also spirituality. It was a deep inner experience of grief and anxiety about the development of society that led me to this.

Could you tell us about the locations you filmed in? It’s a visually striking piece of work and I like the constant movement from expansive to smaller and more insular spaces.
Thank you, that's a really good insight. It was essential for me to set the story in locations which would have visual power but which would also to help create the sense of timelessness in which the film takes place. The subject of my film is closely related to our past, where its cause is, and has major implications for our future, where its consequences will be. I wanted to demonstrate this through the film’s visuality, so I searched for locations that would achieve this.

Can I ask what you filmed on? It does feel like film stock…
Yes, that's right. I wanted to shoot this story on 16mm colour film stock, because I saw it as a kind of metaphor in itself: analogue film stock as vibrant, haptic, organic, and permanent, but also as fragile. I wanted to imprint the main character's way of thinking into the actual form of the film. So we converted the frequency of his voiceover into electrical discharges, which we introduced into the film to destroy the film material. This created an analogy with the development of the main character and demonstrated his relationship to material reality.

You premiered your film at Rotterdam. Has the audience’s reaction surprised you to date, especially given that your film doesn’t conform to the standards of straight narrative cinema.
Absolutely! It was amazing to see – based on audience feedback - that the film explores a genuinely universal theme that touches audiences from all over the world. After the screening, for example, I was thanked by a viewer from Thailand who was deeply moved by the film, and by a viewer from South America who was fascinated by the film’s visuality. I think it means a lot to any filmmaker to see that their movie resonates with an audience who come from a different cultural and historical background, but who can still connect with it.

Can you tell us a little more about The Other One, another feature you have screening at Karlovy Vary?
It's a very personal film, exploring the important but neglected topic of “glass children” - healthy siblings of children with special needs. It tells the story of 18-year-old Johana who wants to go to college, but the hardest challenge she faces isn't graduation or entrance exams: she plays an irreplaceable role in her family, helping with the everyday care of her sister with a disability. But Johanna has yet another task to face: she must put herself first, for once in her life. This film is my feature documentary debut and I decided to use this story to portray the fragile period between childhood and adulthood and to tell an intimate coming-of-age story about the search for freedom and the responsibility we have towards others, but also towards ourselves. It conveys the perspective of these siblings, these glass children. The story in The Other One is also my story, and the story of millions of others around the world with similar life experiences. I would like to dedicate this film to all those who grew up as and are still living like these “other ones”.

Do you have any projects coming up in the future?
I’m now in the very early stages of making my upcoming fiction feature debut. It's a revenge comedy about modern-day intergenerational differences and conflicts. We’ve been developing it for a year and I’m very excited about it!

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