email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

SHORTS Czech Republic / France / Slovakia

Daria Kashcheeva transforms a female odyssey into the surreal short Electra


- The imaginative animated/live-action hybrid has been shortlisted for the BAFTA Film Awards and is screening in the experimental section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Daria Kashcheeva transforms a female odyssey into the surreal short Electra
Zuzana Stivínová in Electra (© Maur Film)

As one of the brightest new talents on the Czech animation scene, Tajikistan-born FAMU student Daria Kashcheeva has really come to the forefront recently. She became the face of international success for Prague's Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in 2019 thanks to her visually stunning and emotionally hard-hitting short film Daughter. Following its premiere at the Annecy International Film Festival, the short went on to secure the Cristal for Best Film in the graduation films category. It then went on a globe-trotting and award-winning frenzy, including a Student Oscar and a coveted nomination for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, which further thrust Czech animation into the international spotlight.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Kashcheeva's next venture, her master graduation work Electra, is no less ambitious. Having premiered at Cannes, in La Cinéf, Electra is currently being screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, in the Imagina section for experimental audiovisual works (see the news). The film revisits the recurring theme of the father-daughter relationship, similarly to Daughter. As the title implies, Kashcheeva explores the eponymous Greek myth, creating a unique interpretation of the female counterpart to the Oedipus complex. The filmmaker insightfully delves into the repercussions of a father's absence from a young girl's life, and its subsequent impact on her psychological, emotional and sexual development, in a highly imaginative manner. She further cements her auteurial style by deftly blending animation with live-action elements in this new endeavour.

The pivotal moment in Electra revolves around the protagonist's tenth birthday, during which her memories become distorted. Using retrospective narration, the adult Electra (Zuzana Částková) takes part in a psychotherapeutic session featuring life-size Barbie dolls to dissect her past experiences. The younger Electra (a standout performance by Marie Verner) navigates her intentionally ambiguous relationship with her father, Agamemnon (Robert Jašków), a local dentist, and her mother, Clytemnestra (Zuzana Stivínová), and becomes estranged from the latter.

The 26-minute narrative unfolds at the nexus between Electra's memory and her imagination, with Kashcheeva deploying suggestive and surreal imagery. She uses cocktails as symbols of uteruses, provocative make-up suggesting the overt sexualisation of the young Electra, and a disturbing autopsy of Barbie dolls juxtaposed with Electra's transformation. Over the course of the film's concise running time, viewers are treated to an array of thought-provoking scenes with bizarre symbols and allusions, set against a backdrop of meticulously crafted and highly stylised sets. The film, which was made over 95 shooting days, uses a combination of real-time live-action scenes, pixilation and stop-motion animation.

By incorporating pixilation, the short adopts the distinctive jerkiness that characterised Kashcheeva's previous work. Kashcheeva, who was the cinematographer and editor of Daughter, entrusted the cinematography of Electra to Tomáš Frkal and the editing to Alexander Kashcheev, owing to the film's extensive scope. The outcome is an emotionally gripping and visually imaginative drama that resonates with the surreal poetics of Jan Švankmajer’s animations.

Electra was produced by MAUR Film, and co-produced by FAMU (Czech Republic), Papy3D Productions (France) and Artichoke (Slovakia). The film has been supported by the Czech Film Fund, the Pilsen region, the FILMTALENT ZLÍN Endowment Fund, ARTE France, Pictanovo – images en Hauts-de-France, the Hauts-de-France region, the CNC, Procirep, Angoa and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund.

Electra has been shortlisted for the BAFTA Film Awards. You can watch the trailer below:

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy