Cannes 2022: In zones of war and drug addiction

20 April 2022

Czech Film

Cannes 2022: In zones of war and drug addiction

Czech Film

Cannes 2022: In zones of war and drug addiction

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The competitive section Un Certain Regard, part of the Official Selection of Festival de Cannes, will showcase Butterfly Vision, a story about hope and humanity under the most desperate conditions, made in Ukrainian-Czech-Croatian-Swedish coproduction. Plus, the short animated film Scale, by Joseph Pierce, co-produced by Jiří Konečný of the Czech outfit endorfilm, will be presented in the Special Screenings section of the Semaine de la Critique sidebar.

Article by Markéta Šantrochová and Barbora Lochmanová for CZECH FILM magazine / Summer 2022

Un Certain Regard: Butterfly Vision

Maksym Nakonechnyi’s debut film, Butterfly Vision, is a harsh and surreal tale about a victim who refuses to be identified as one. 28-year-old soldier Lilia returns home after months being held captive as a prisoner of war. As an aerial reconnaissance expert, she was always on the lookout, through the drones she controlled from the sky. As a civilian and a wife, she struggles to look forward to the future. The pain and trauma from her time in captivity continue to surface in dreamlike ways, as something inside her is reminding her of what she’s trying to leave behind.

The film is produced by Yelizaveta Smith and Darya Bassel from Tabor (Ukraine), with co-producers Dagmar Sedláčková of MasterFilm (Czech Republic), Anika Juka of 4 Film (Croatia), and Mario Adamson & Sergio C. Ayala of Sisyfos Film Production (Sweden). Respected Czech screenwriter and musician Džian Baban also wrote the music for the film.

Czech co-producer Sedláčková reminisces that she met Nakonechnyi, along with Swedish co-producer Mario Adamson and Croatian executive producer Laura Sinovic, at the Eurodoc workshop some years ago.

“We clicked immediately, and I dare say the four of us became friends. We stayed in touch even after the workshop. A year later, I got a call from Maksym that he had a new project, this time as a director, and he asked me if I’d be interested in reading the script. I immediately said yes. I was captivated by the story of Lilia. She’s an excellent example of a strong female character that hasn’t been seen in a long time,” Sedláčková said.

The film was shot during the peak of the pandemic, which led to the shoot being interrupted.

“Obviously, the crew couldn’t film where the war was going on. So all the shots of destroyed cities, bomb craters, and the shots from the drone in the air that Lilla controls were created using VFX in the postproduction studio based in Prague. They also created the model butterfly that appears in her dreams. Michal Křeček from Magiclab and his team did an absolutely fantastic job on this film,” Sedláčková said.

“Maks had a relatively clear idea about the music. He was more inclined toward industrial noises—sounds of drones, electricity, engines. I sent him some samples of Džian Baban’s work, and he was excited. They both understood each other very quickly. Džian managed to take these noises and develop musical themes around them. I think the music helps the film maintain a very uneasy, oppressive atmosphere, which enhances its overall feel.”

As a producer focused on arthouse cinema, Sedláčková sees co-production as an essential part of her work. She is now in talks with the main producer of Butterfly Vision, Darya Bassel, who approached her with a new project by established Ukraine director Roman Bondarchuk.

Sedláčková is confident they’ll be able to finish the project in spite of the war, which has complicated completion — hopefully with the support of the Czech Film Fund, where she plans to apply for minority funding.

“Of course, with a major world premiere like this, there’s a lot of media attention. It’s something Ukrainian filmmakers should take full advantage of to speak out about the situation in Ukraine. So it’s absolutely crucial for us to bring the Ukrainian crew to Cannes. I’m confident we’ll get attention due to the film’s subject matter, which goes back to the war that’s been going on in the Donbas since 2014,” Sedláčková said of the project’s plans for the Festival de Cannes.

Butterfly Vision was supported by the Czech Film Fund with an award of €108,000, as well as by the Ukrainian State Film Agency, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Eurimages, the Croatian Audiovisual Center, the Swedish Film Institute, the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, and the Ukrainian Institute.

Semaine de la Critique: Scale

Semaine de la Critique, a sidebar of the Festival de Cannes, will present Joseph Pierce’s long-awaited 14-minute animated film Scale as part of the Special Screenings section, reserved for honorary guests of the sidebar.

Scale tells the story of Will, who loses his sense of scale while driving down the motorway. As his crippling drug addiction deepens, he struggles to unpick the sequence of events that led to his predicament before he’s lost forever.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by British author Will Self. It portrays the devastating effect that addiction can have on a man, but also on his family. Will’s wife and daughters appear to him as he makes his way down the road, forcing him to confront himself and his demons through their eyes. Moving from innocence to awareness, from awareness to suffering, from suffering to a rescue attempt, he finally comes to grasp his own helplessness.

As he loses his fight against addiction, we see him lonely and trapped in his own delusional logic.

Written and directed by Joseph Pierce, the film is made in rotoscopy animation, based on film of the actual actors. With Sam Spruell as Will and Zahra Ahmadi as his wife, Eden.

The film is produced by Hélène Mitjavile of French Melocoton Films, in co-production with Chris Hees of Bridge Way (UK), Jiří Konečný of endorfilm (CZ), and Jérémie Mazurek of Ozù Productions (BE).

Scale marks the third collaboration between Konečný and Mitjavile, who co-produced two previous films by Olmo Omerzu, helmed by the Czech producer.

Work on the Czech side was coordinated by line producer Kamila Dohnalová, an animation producer herself, and the animation studio Barebear Production of Zlín took over the color and shadow animation, with Radovan Surý serving as head of shadow and color animation.

According to Konečný, the animation technique, as well as the short and intense form of the film, make for a spellbinding experience.

“I strongly believe in the suggestive power of film as media. This dark portrayal of such a burning issue can strike viewers with its message, while captivating them with its visuality. This is why we intend to make a Czech dubbed version, and strengthen its preventive, or educational, potential,” Konečný explained.

Scale received €49,000 in backing from the Czech Film Fund, as well as support from the British Film Institute, the Grand Est Region, the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region, the Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, MAGELIS, Charente County Council, the CNC, Strasbourg Eurometropole, PROCIREP-ANGOA, the Film and Audiovisual Centre of the Wallonie-Brussels Federation, Shelter Prod, Taxshelter.be ING, and the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government.

Immediately following Cannes, Scale will screen at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. International sales for the film are handled by Salaud Morisset.

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