Fruits of Clouds and Other Czech Films in Annecy

08 June 2017

Czech Film

Fruits of Clouds and Other Czech Films in Annecy

Czech Film

Fruits of Clouds and Other Czech Films in Annecy

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This year, three Czech movies will appear in the Annecy International Animated Film Festival (12 - 17 June). One of them is Kateřina Karhánková’s new project, Fruits of Clouds, selected for the Short Films in  competition. This will be a return trip to Annecy for Karhánková, who competed in the Graduation Films section in 2014 with her short film The New Species. The other two animated films selected for Annecy will be in the Graduation Films section: We’re Human, After All, directed by Jan Míka, and The Awaker, directed by Filip Diviak.  


Article by Eliška Děcká for Czech Film Magazine / Summer 2017

One of the strongest traditions inspiring Czech and Czechoslovak animation is the genre of “TV bedtime stories” as embodied by Večerníček, a program of short animated fairy tales broadcast every evening on the national TV channel since 1965. It is a beautiful tradition, empowering and inspiring for animators, yet at the same time it also means most Czechs still see animation primarily as a children’s medium. Fortunately, this has produced the paradox of more and more young animators in film school focusing their work on an adult audience, in order to show the full potential of animation and break free of the sometimes constricting heritage of children’s bedtime stories.

One of the few animators who has nevertheless decided to follow the path of children’s animation, albeit in her own way, is Kateřina Karhánková, currently a postgraduate student in the Animation Department at FAMU Prague. “I like to work with kids,” says Karhánková. “I like the potential impact I can make on them with my films. It’s always such a pleasure to see that something in my films has touched them, moved them, started them thinking about things differently. As an adult, sometimes all you can do is go and see a psychiatrist,” she laughs, “but as a kid you’re still developing, so you can save yourself a lot of trouble later in your life.”

Curious to See How Children React

Karhánková considers kids an integral part of her filmmaking work, involving them already during the writing process, visiting schools to discuss possible plots and symbolism to make sure she’s on the same page with kids, so it will be clear what she’s trying to get across. This was the process she used for her latest film, Fruits of Clouds, selected for the Short Films in Competition section in the upcoming Annecy International Animation Film Festival. “I’m really happy we were selected for Annecy,” Karhánková says. “Especially since so many people were involved and helped with the film. They put so much trust in the project, it’s great that such a wide audience will be able to see it now. I’m especially curious to see children’s reactions and hear their opinions on it. There’s a dark forest in the film that plays an important part in the story, and I wasn’t sure if kids would be able to relate to the symbolism, but they got it right away. They said, ‘It’s like when you go to violin class and you’re worried you didn’t practice enough, but in the end it might turn out all right anyway.’”

Karhánková says she wrote the screenplay for Fruits of Clouds with her ideal art director in mind, Alžběta Skálová. “I admire Alžběta’s work so much and I know her visual approach, so I was already trying to work all that into the script while figuring out the final story.” Karhánková is also one of the few young Czech animators who regularly collaborates with an art director, allowing her to focus mostly on directing. In The New Species (2013), she worked with Filip Pošivač; in Tony and Mr. Illness (2014), with Ester Nemjóová. “It’s the perfect way to work for me,” Karhánková says. “It allows me to keep my distance from the whole thing, which is something I really need. Plus, I always have a pretty clear idea about the final result right from the start, so if I feel that my own visual style doesn’t fit, I’d rather ask someone else.”

Graduation Films section: We’re Human, After All and The Awaker

The other two animated films selected for Annecy will be in the Graduation Films section. We’re Human, After All, directed by Jan Míka (watch here) and produced by the Miroslav Ondříček Film Academy in Písek, tells the story of a hare forced to face hunger, freezing cold temperatures, and threats from hunters and other animals over the winter. Then, one day he finds out what a comfortable, safe life rabbits lead. The movie combines two techniques: 2D animation and live action. The Awaker, directed by Filip Diviak and produced by Tomáš Baťa University, tells the story of an old man who leads a mundane life waking people up for a living. Until one day, he receives a shiny little bell as payment, and his humdrum routine is transformed forever. 

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