REPORT: Work in Progress @ Febiofest Bratislava Industry Days 2021
- We present an overview of the works in progress presented at this year’s Febiofest Industry Days, giving a taste of what’s to come in Slovakian cinema
Unfolding online, the sixth edition of the Febiofest (29 March) Work in Progress industry panel, an event co-organised by the Slovak Film Institute, presented Slovakian projects in the making to an audience made up of both domestic and international film professionals. For the first time, the organisers introduced the Best Febio Pitch Award. The jury consisting of Renata Santoro of Giornate degli Autori, Bernd Buder from Connecting Cottbus, and Hugo Rosák from Karlovy Vary International Film Festival decided to hand out the award to the project Flood by Martin Gonda, explaining that the project impressed the jury “the most for its engaged way of presenting a relevant topic that connects the experience of a family to a threat of extinction in the name of progress”. Besides the main prize, the jury also awarded the Best Febio Pitch Special Mention, which went to the project Strigov by Barbora Berezňáková, explaining that the project “touched us immediately with its heart-warming observation of traditions which are endangered to vanish and the ability to talk about death in a very honest way”.
We outline all the presented projects below.
Applause - Juraj Lehotský
The Slovak documentarian-cum-fiction filmmaker Juraj Lehotský is currently completing filming on his latest fiction feature film, Applause (read the news). The story revolves around two step brothers – one who found happiness in a senior's home, and the other one frustrated by his failed ambitions. Polish actor Bartosz Bielenia, who stepped into the international spotlight in his breakthrough role in Corpus Christi [+see also:
interview: Bartosz Bielenia
interview: Jan Komasa
film profile], portrays the latter, a cellist who cannot find joy despite his successes. Bielenia trained for 6 months to play the cello and speak Slovak and German. Lehotský chose a different cinematographic approach for Applause compared to his previous works. Each scene consists of a single take as the camera is gliding through the space and around the characters. Applause is a Slovak, Czech and Polish co-production, with the country's funding bodies (Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Czech Film Fund, and Polish Film Institute) supporting the film. The producers are looking for further partners and festival premieres as the film should be finished this year.
Flood - Martin Gonda
Emerging Slovak director Martin Gonda, who bowed at the Cinéfondation in Cannes with the short film Pura Vida, is preparing his feature-length debut, Flood. The fiction film, which is currently in the development stage, follows the life of Mara who desires to leave her home village and study in town, against her father’s wishes. Mara’s story unfolds against the backdrop of the relocation of Ruské, a Ruthenian village in the North-eastern part of Slovakia, which happened due to the impending building of a dam in 1984. The director notes that for him, the story is about “the end of the world: the extinction of small communities, the eradication of a culture and a way of life, the loss of identity and traditions, of home and well-established systems of coexistence”. The film is currently in the financing stage with a script being developed. Slovak production outfit Silverart produces the film and the producer is looking for co-producers, international crew members, and sales agents. The shooting is preliminary set for 2022.
Unbalanced - Zuzana Piussi
Experienced Slovak documentary filmmaker Zuzana Piussi is currently shooting her feature-length fiction debut, Unbalanced (read the news). The story sees a divorced mother taking care of her daughter and encountering an unexpected source of frustration after they move to a new apartment – a mentally ill person living in the flat above them. According to the director, the film raises several questions: “how to relate to external disturbances which impact homes and result from bad institutional decisions or the social, personal, mental status of neighbours? How long can you live under stress without losing confidence in justice, politics, institutions, the state and yourself? What is the boundary between acting in a professional and personal capacity?”. “The film will be a tragicomedy showing the reality in a philosophic way that makes sense for this time of crisis,” said the producer Vít Janeček of D1Film. Unbalanced is a Slovak and Czech co-production that has been supported by national funding bodies in both countries. The release is preliminary set for March 2022.
Power - Matyás Prikler
The anticipated sophomore feature-length film Power (read the news), from producer and director Matyás Prikler, is in post production. Described as a Central European political thriller, although the director called it a tragicomic story, Power deals with the topics of politics and power, most precisely with “the hidden machinery of political power, and its mechanisms of self-protection,” as the director noted. Zora Jaurová (read the interview) and the director himself are producing for MPhilms, while Viktória Petrányi of Proton Cinema (Hungary), Petr Oukropec and Pavel Strnad of Negativ (Czech Republic) and Radio and Television Slovakia are co-producing the film. The Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Kultminor, the Hungarian National Film Fund, Eurimages, the Czech Film Fund and Creative Europe – Media supported the film. The release is planned for this year.
Mother of the Night - Peter Czikrai
Rising genre filmmaker Peter Czikrai, whose short film M is for Malnutrition appeared in the horror anthology ABCs of Death 2, is preparing his feature-length debut, Mother of the Night (read the news). The mysterious thriller is built around a folk myth of witchcraft and superstitions, and will create a social parable exploring “why do we commit evil things and why do we yield to them,” according to the director. The project is in the financing and development stage, which was supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund with the fourth draft of the script finished. Jana Kluková and Michal Kollár of KFS Production are producing, while Andrea Shaffer of Mindset Pictures (Czech Republic) and Guna Stahovska of Mojo Raiser (Latvia) boarded Mother of the Night as co-producers. The producers are still looking for co-producing partners, preferably from Poland, Hungary, Romania or Russia, and more opportunities to present the project on festival platforms.
Maverick (Of Men and Hen) - Peter Hoferica
Peter Hoferica, student of directing at the Film and TV Faculty of Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, introduced his short student film, the tragicomedy Maverick (Of Men and Hen). The protagonist Juraj returns home only to find his parents divorcing, which prompts him to figure out who his parents are and who he is himself. The director noted that the lead character will talk to the camera in “the Fleabag style” and humour will mix with drama. Hoferica was recently noted for his short film Greetings from Nigeria, which won the Best Screenplay Award at the Poitiers Film Festival in 2020. The film is in production and should be finished in August 2021. The film crew is still looking for festivals, film curators, and sales agents.
Strigov - Barbora Berezňáková
This year’s Slovak representative at Berlinale Talents, filmmaker Barbora Berezňáková unveiled her upcoming short experimental film, Strigov, which deals with death and mortality. The title refers to the director’s birthplace in the hills of eastern Slovakia where lives a traditional Ruthenian community. Berezňáková captures the funeral rites of her grandmother through a poetic lens of black and white photography and first-person perspective. As the director notes, the Ruthenian community deals with death in a direct way and, as the community is vanishing, so is the old tradition. Berezňáková is handling the duties of director, writer, editor, and DoP on Strigov. The short film has been supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and post-production is scheduled for fall 2021, with the film being complete before the end of 2021. NGO Discosailing is handling the domestic release and the director is currently looking for post-production partners, sales agents, and festivals for the film's premiere in 2022.
One More Question - Mira Erdevički
The documentary film One More Question follows three protagonists, Roma children who emigrated to the UK in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, Brexit and the pandemic intervene in their immigrant lives. The consequences are observed from a close distance and the director Mira Erdevički had to alter the approach of shooting due to the pandemic, from capturing the protagonists with a hand-held camera to protagonists filming themselves with GoPro cameras and smartphones. One More Question is currently in production and filming should wrap this summer. The premiere is preliminary set for Spring 2022. Zuzana Mistríková and Ľubica Orechovská from Slovak outfit PubRes are producing, with Lucie Wenigerová of Spring Pictures (UK), Martin Jůza of Krutart (the Czech Republic), Radio and Television Slovakia and Czech Television serving as co-producers. The producers are looking for sales agents and distribution partners.
Insides - Paula Ďurinová
Slovak documentarian Paula Ďurinová is readying her feature-length documentary debut, Insides, which is currently in the second half of its development, supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. The film, a documentary essay, will address the topic of collective anxiety triggered by life in modern capitalism. Insides has three protagonists, who are observed in parallel realities as they individually challenge their daily lives and the way they interact, inside safe spaces designed for the film. The director noted that the film’s structure is inspired by her own panic attacks which had “a dramatic curve in anticipation of the attack, the fearful powerlessness itself, and the subsequent come down”. The film is produced by Marej Sotník of Slovak company Guča and co-produced by Michal Kráčmer from Analog Vision (the Czech Republic) and Jana Cisar of Jana Cisar Filmproduktion (Germany). The production is set for early 2022 with a premiere planned in late 2022. The producers are looking for distributors, festival representatives and a representative from cross-media platforms as the film is just one part of the interdisciplinary project that should span a book, gallery installations, and a series of talks and workshops.
A Happy Man - Soňa Gyarfáš Lutherová
Slovak documentary filmmaker, social and visual anthropologist Soňa Gyarfáš Lutherová is working on time-lapse observational documentary A Happy Man. The film maps the personal transition of a mother of two children who wants to change gender. “I intend to challenge preconceived ideas about intimate questions and peel back the subtle layers, and by so doing, present viewers with an empathetic viewpoint – without judgment or scandal,” explains the director. Slovak company AZYL Production produces for Slovakia with Company F (the Czech Republic) and HBO Europe tapped as co-producers. The Slovak Audiovisual Fund supported the film of which 20 hours have been already shot. The premiere is planned for Autumn 2022. One of the producers, Peter Veverka, revealed they are looking for a Swedish co-producer and world sales.
Rough Poetry Architect - Ladislav Kaboš
Veteran Slovak filmmaker Ladislav Kaboš has completed the biopic docudrama Rough Poetry Architect, about Slovakia-born Carpathian German Hans Broos, who became an important representative of modern Brazilian architecture. “I intend to base the project’s visual concept – elaborated in a ‘docudrama’ style – on graphically and artistically composed shots, stylization, and thoughtfully-used archive material,” explained the director. The film has been shot in authentic locations throughout Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Brazil in 2019 and 2020, and its distribution premiere is set for Fall 2021. Darina Smržová of EDIT Studios produces for Slovakia with Radio and Television Slovakia, KABOS Film & Media (the Czech Republic), and Embaúba Produções (Brazil). The Slovak Audiovisual Fund supported the film and a 56-minute television version was prepared as well. The producers are currently looking for sales agents, broadcasters, and festivals.
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