El cortometraje documental de animación checo Rising Above, finalista al Premio Óscar Estudiantil
por Martin Kudláč
- La pieza de Natálie Durchánková, estudiante de la FAMU, es el primer proyecto del instituto en la final de los premios a estudiantes de la Academia estadounidense en la categoría de documentales
Este artículo está disponible en inglés.
Natálie Durchánková's short documentary Rising Above has been shortlisted for the prestigious Student Academy Awards. Produced at the Czech Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU), the film is one of only seven in the documentary category to make the final cut. This year's competition saw the inclusion of 26 films across four categories – experimental, animated, documentary and live-action – from 22 international film schools. Notably, Rising Above is one of only two European entries to reach this stage, the other being from the UK. In the crowded documentary category, the film emerged as one of 17 semi-finalists, alongside five US entries. Rising Above first gained recognition at Anifilm and later progressed to the BAFTA semi-finals. Its selection for the Student Academy Awards underlines both its individual merit, and the growing stature of Czech and European film schools in a traditionally US-dominated arena.
The four-minute film offers a chilling first-person account of sexual assault, attempted murder and the challenging road to recovery. The third-year student of the Department of Animated Film made the short under the supervision of Czech animation veteran Michaela Pavlátová. Durchánková spent nearly a year focused on the project, with the key objective of treating her subject's story with dignity. “The subject's affirmative reaction exceeded my expectations; not only did the film meet my goal of being a dignified portrayal, but it also furthered her healing process,” Durchánková noted. FAMU's dean, Andrea Slováková, commended the work, stating, “The film uses a direct yet sensitive narrative to explore the emotional complexities of recovering from a traumatic event. Its animated form introduces a layer of poetic language that a strictly documentary approach could not provide.” Rising Above adds a nuanced dimension to the conversation around trauma and recovery, showcasing the unique affordances of animated documentaries in tackling such sensitive subjects.
Rising Above adds to the growing global trend of film hybridisation, seamlessly blending elements of live-action, animation and documentary. It features a brisk narrative that confronts the grim realities of violent sexual assault, using sombre imagery to depict the victim on the brink of unconsciousness. The storytelling takes a nuanced turn as it progresses from the immediate aftermath of trauma to the long-term healing process. Durchánková employs a voice-over to recount the emotional journey, while also showing scars. The narrative arc culminates in a courtroom confrontation, where the victim faces the perpetrator and reclaims agency over her life. Balancing witness accounts and graphic depictions with imaginative visual metaphors, Rising Above skilfully navigates the path from suffering to empowerment. The film exemplifies how hybrid filmmaking techniques can lend depth and complexity to challenging subjects like trauma and recovery.
Durchánková’s work is the latest addition to the current Czech wave of female animator-directors tackling socially sensitive subjects. She follows in the footsteps of notable figures such as Daria Kashcheeva, whose award-winning puppet animated documentary Daughter clinched a Student Oscar and secured an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film. Kashcheeva's latest project, Electra (see the news), continues to explore a mix of genres and is doing the rounds on the festival circuit.
Similarly, emerging talent Diana Cam Van Nguyen (see the interview) has garnered multiple awards and widespread festival recognition, most recently with her short anidoc Love, Dad. Further bolstering the Czech Republic's growing reputation in the film industry, FAMU – the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague – has become a prominent player on the international circuit. Last year alone, 113 FAMU-produced short and feature-length films reached audiences in 70 countries, earning themselves 300 nominations and securing 47 awards at major festivals. Rising Above is FAMU's first student film to reach the Student Oscar finals in the documentary category. The winners of the 50th annual Student Academy Awards will be unveiled on 24 October in Los Angeles.
Rising Above was produced by FAMU, and the school also handles the international rights.
(Traducción del inglés)
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