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Kristina Dufková • Regista di Living Large

“Ciò che ho trovato più attraente del libro è il mondo interiore di Ben, e questo è stato anche l'aspetto più complicato da portare sullo schermo”


- La regista ceca spiega cosa l'ha spinta ad adattare il libro dell'autore francese Mikaël Ollivier e l'importanza della musica nel suo film

Kristina Dufková • Regista di Living Large
(© Barletta)

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Kristina Dufková’s feature-length directorial debut, Living Large [+leggi anche:
intervista: Kristina Dufková
scheda film
, has just enjoyed its world premiere at the Annecy Film Festival, in the Feature Films Contrechamp competition. The stop-motion puppet animation tells the story of Ben, a teenager struggling with being overweight and navigating his first crushes.

Cineuropa: Why did you decide to use the stop-motion puppet technique to tell the story?
Kristina Dufková:
I wanted to use classic puppet animation because we have a long history of that technique here in the Czech Republic. I also wanted to develop it into something connected more to the emotions of the characters. During the whole film, I tried to feel connected to Ben, and that’s why I decided to create puppets with removable eyelids. That allowed me to play with the emotions on the faces. To do so, I also decided to make the other half of the faces, with areas like their mouths, replaceable. That allowed me to make the syllables making up the words uttered by the characters intelligible. It’s something used in the USA, but not in the Czech Republic or Europe. It’s something very new.

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All of the tiny details that set your characters apart from each other are amazing – do you draw inspiration from real life, from people you know, or do you work more from your imagination?
I was strongly influenced by my childhood, but I didn’t want the film to be influenced by a certain place. The book’s author [Mikaël Ollivier] is French, and I come from the Czech Republic, so I’m somehow influenced by what happened in my country, but the film is not located in a specific city or country.

What made you want to adapt Mikaël Ollivier’s book La Vie, en gros, and what were the main challenges of adapting, or at least drawing inspiration from, a book?
What I found most appealing about the book was Ben’s inner world, his emotions, his rhythm – and that was also the most complicated aspect to put on screen. These innermost feelings are impossible to adapt and depict, and that’s why I used the classic puppet animation technique. I wanted to update the book a little, so I added all of the animals that you see in the movie. In one version of the feature, there was even a dad who lived in the jungle. In my first idea, there were even more animals. Ultimately, I didn’t change too much from the book; I basically added more and more things, but the book, such as it is, is all in the film.

You deal with some sensitive issues, such as obesity, disability and bullying. What does animation bring to the table when it comes to talking about these problems?
All of these issues are the reason I decided to make an animation out of it, because it cushions the reality and makes the whole thing less harmful and dangerous. Somehow, it doesn’t make the audience feel threatened, because you can always sense there is a difference between the characters’ world and your own.

Thanks to its sensitivity and humour, your film brings to mind Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette [+leggi anche:
intervista: Claude Barras
scheda film
. What are your inspirations as a filmmaker and illustrator?
Of course I saw My Life as a Courgette, and it was an inspiration, in a way. I’m mostly interested in the real world, which gives you different points of view when you are making an animated story that is very much rooted in real life. That was the case for My Life as a Courgette, but also for Mary and Max.

Music plays a big role in your movie. How did you create the soundtrack?
I decided to create the whole band storyline that was not part of the book. I loved the idea of having the main song reflected in the entire story. It starts as a rap song, with things that Ben knows in life, like food and cooking, then it develops into something related to the love he feels for Clara, and by the end, it has become more related to friendship and self-acceptance. In a way, it describes the narrative arc of the story. What I like is that it changes during the entire movie. Basically, Ben is trying to find his own voice.

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