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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic

Veteran documentarian Zuzana Piussi turns to fiction filmmaking with The Unbalanced


- The social tragicomedy tackles the trials and tribulations of a single mother alongside broader social issues

Veteran documentarian Zuzana Piussi turns to fiction filmmaking with The Unbalanced
Ingrid Hrubaničová in The Unbalanced (© D1film)

An entire generation of established Slovakian documentarians have either moved over to fiction filmmaking or espoused it for some of their projects. Their ranks will soon be swelled by Zuzana Piussi, a Slovakian independent documentary filmmaker and cinematographer with a rich filmography. Several of her documentaries map out domestic politics (see the news) and its repercussions, including her latest outing, The State Capture (see the news).

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Piussi is now switching gears and turning from political documentary to social tragicomedy in her first fiction offering, The Unbalanced [+see also:
film profile
. It was written by author Ingrid Hrubaničová, a script consultant on Piussi’s documentary The Granny, who was inspired by her own experiences and who also stars in the leading role. Hrubaničová portrays a single mother who is forced to find an affordable apartment after her divorce. However, the reason why her new flat had such a reasonable price tag soon becomes clear in the form of a mentally unstable neighbour who dashes all of the protagonist’s expectations of enjoying a peaceful life.

Piussi and Hrubaničová address several topics besides the trials and tribulations of single mothers and loneliness: they also ponder people who terrorise their neighbours and ask whether mentally unstable people really need special care and protection under all circumstances. However, one of the most prominent topics is a socio-philosophical reflection on whether “anyone can be happy and successful if they work hard enough”. This theorem replaced the antiquated ideologies in the post-socialist countries, say the authors, adding, “Having unwavering faith in any theorem can cause a lot of harm and personal misery.” Even though Piussi is turning to fiction filmmaking, she will maintain a documentary style through her naturalistic cinematography.

The Unbalanced is intended as a low-budget auteur project and is currently at the pre-production stage, while production is preliminarily scheduled to take place between July and September 2020. The Slovak Audiovisual Fund supported the development, while the Czech Film Fund granted financial support for the production in its most recent call for fiction feature debuts. The board of the Czech Film Fund considered “the script to be very good and convincing, with very well-observed, real situations and with a distinctive sense of humour”. Gyula Gazdag consulted on the project through MIDPOINT, and the creative team took part in TorinoFilmLab Extended with the movie. Vít Janeček, the Czech producer of the film, told Cineuropa that they are currently looking for another co-producer outside of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The Unbalanced is being produced by Slovakian outfit VIRUSfilm and co-produced by independent Czech outfit D1film. The film’s budget is €530,000.

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