Ironic truths about the world

18 August 2019

Czech Film

Ironic truths about the world

Czech Film

Ironic truths about the world

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The 2-D drawn animated short SH_T HAPPENS by two young filmmakers, Michaela Mihályi and Dávid Štumpf, will receive its world premiere at the prestigious Orizzonti competition of the Venice International Film Festival.

Article by Markéta Šantrochová for Czech Film Magazine / Fall 2019

An utterly exhausted caretaker and his sexually frustrated wife. A deer that has lost his wife drowning his sorrows in gallons of alcohol. Their mutual despair leads them to absurd events, because... shit happens all the time.

The film is a loose adaptation of the well-known biblical story, transforming it into a contemporary ironic narrative about the way the world sometimes works.

The film is inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, which provides the ideal platform for portraying different characters locked inside their own convoluted relationships, predispositions and conflicts. It offers the perfect metaphor for human society in general. The coexistence of animals with their human caretaker Noah and his wife Eve results in all sorts of absurd situations. Ranging from romantic through tragic, comic to tragicomic… these are the stories and lives of our heroes and their neighbours.

The biblical inspiration is quite general. The story takes place in the present-day world, on a housing estate (a prefab apartment block) full of self-centered inhabitants with humdrum needs.

The story is narrated in four chapters, each told from the point of view of one of the three main protagonists, rounded off by a denouement.

Co-director Dávid Štumpf says: "For the film’s visuals we used a printmaking machine called a risograph, which has been enjoying a renaissance in the graphic world in recent times. The risograph has given the film a unique colourful intensity that complements the storytelling.“

The project is a co-production between the Czech Republic, Slovakia and France, with producer Peter Badač of BFILM.cz behind the project. Peter Badač is also behind another internationally acclaimed animation short, The Kite ,which premiered this February as part of the Berlinale Generation KPlus section and has been shortlisted for the Student Film Oscar.

Supported by the Czech Film Fund (EUR 22,000), the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Creative Europe MEDIA, CNC and La Procirep-Angou, SH_T HAPPENS (previous title The End) was presented to film professionals and potential partners at the Mifa Pitches – Short Films in Annecy in 2018.

“Participation at the MIFA presentation forum is a very prestigious affair, with over 300 projects applying each year. Eight projects from around the globe were presented in the short film section, two of which didn’t have a French producer. As a result, we aroused the interest of French producers who chose to cooperate with us and therefore some 30 per cent of our budget came from French sources: support from CNC and Arte presale rights. At the same time, we collaborated with the French composer Olivier de Palma and sound engineer Francesco Porcellana – two roles that are extremely important in animated film because they contribute greatly to the overall atmosphere of every film,” producer Peter Badač told us.

The film is set to premiere in September 2019. “Right now we are trying to come up with a distribution model that will attract the largest possible audience in cinemas and on digital platforms. But we are in for a long haul as the distribution potential of short films is very limited in the Czech Republic and we hope that the success of our film will help increase the interest of the public as well as the industry in short film production,” adds producer Peter Badač.

He points out that the fact that the film will open in Venice, where SH_T HAPPENS will be the only animated short featured, has already garnered interest from potential partners and festival curators, who have invited the filmmakers to their festivals, and he hopes that the film will help raise the profile of Czech cinema and enhance the prestige of Czech animation around the world.

About the directors

Dávid Štumpf (1991, Slovakia) gained his BA from VŠMU, the Bratislava Academy of Performing Arts, with the film Cowboyland, selected for festivals in Annecy, Stuttgart and Hiroshima and winning numerous awards at home and internationally. David is now based in Prague where he is completing his master's at FAMU with the film SH_T HAPPENS. He also works as a freelance director and animator.

Michaela Mihályi (1991, Slovakia) is currently studying animation at FAMU in Prague, where she now lives. She previously studied animation at Bratislava's VŠMU.  She has a particular interest in telling stories using a variety of techniques, from hand-drawn cut-outs to puppets and animation. She also works as a freelance animation director and illustrator. She has a dog called Ela and loves beer and coffee in equal measure.

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