New generation of Czech talents headed to Cannes

09 May 2024

Czech Film Publications

New generation of Czech talents headed to Cannes

Czech Film Publications

New generation of Czech talents headed to Cannes


The 77th edition of the Festival de Cannes presents a diverse array of innovative filmmaking, including the latest in emerging Czech talent. This year’s entries range from surreal animations to thought-provoking documentaries, each weaving complex narratives that challenge conventional storytelling norms.

written by Martin Kudláč for CZECH FILM / Summer 2024

The 2024 edition of La Cinef, a segment of the Official Selection dedicated to promising new directors, will showcase short and medium-length films, chosen from over 2,000 entries submitted by film schools worldwide. From the Czech Republic, Pola Kazak’s Weeds has advanced to the final round of competition, vying against other short films. Kazak employs the distinctive technique of oil painting on glass to convey an allegorical tale without dialogue. Set in a remote area dominated by weeds, a beautifully maintained garden becomes a crucial site of survival. Here, the Gardener battles a severe storm that disperses invasive seeds, her fear and resolve driving her to extreme measures. Kazak’s short is produced by MAUR film and coproduced by the Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek, located in Písek (FAMO).

Apart from Kazak’s competition in La Cinef, two projects from MAUR film will be spotlighted on La Croisette. Jan Saska’s Hurikan and the Martin Smatana–Veronika Zacharová collaboration Hello Summer have been selected for this year’s Prix UniFrance. The UniFrance organization and its associates, including MovieStar, RTBF, BeTV, Grand Action, and TitraFilm, strive to boost the international visibility of emerging filmmakers and producers through the Short Film Award, extending the reach of short works to audiences and professionals globally. Eligibility for the honor requires a French partnership. On Hurikan, Czech producers Martin Vandas of MAUR film and Kamila Dohnalová of Last Films are partnered with Laïdak Films in France, in collaboration with the Slovak company Artichoke and the Bosnian animation studio AEON Production; while on Hello Summer, Martin Smatana of Studio Bororo, Kamila Dohnalová of Last Films, and Martin Vandas of MAUR film are coproducers in a joint venture with France’s Vivement Lundi !.

Hurikan, a black-and-white 2D hand-drawn animation, follows its eponymous hero on a laugh-inducing nocturnal quest to retrieve a beer keg. Saska, both an animator and a comics author, infuses the action-packed film with the dynamic sensibilities of comic storytelling. His previous film, Happy End, appeared in the Directors’ Fortnight Section at Cannes in 2016. For their part, Zacharová and Smatana merge stop-motion and hand-drawn techniques to create a quintessential children’s comedy in Hello Summer. The clever film portrays a Czech or Slovak family’s seaside holiday, emphasizing the true luxury of vacation as quality time together, rather than lavish amenities. The straightforward narrative and archetypal setup offer a visually engaging and heartwarming experience, suitable for all ages.

La Cinef is just one initiative in the festival’s Cinéma de Demain scheme, whose mission is to support filmmaking and enhance appreciation of global cinema. Continuing the Festival de Cannes tradition of showcasing new talent and bolstering the industry, the scheme also includes La Résidence, in which 12 directors are chosen to spend time in Paris developing their debut or sophomore feature projects. Last year, for the fall session, Czech animator Diana Van Cam Nguyen, known for her innovative ani-docs, was selected to work at La Résidence on her feature-length debut, Inbetween Worlds. The story explores the life of a 23-year-old Vietnamese-Czech woman facing a crucial decision: whether to accept a marriage proposal from Vietnam that offers financial stability but requires her to conform to traditional roles. Succeeding Nguyen in the spring session is Daria Khascheeva, another notable figure from the Czech film scene. Khascheeva, who gained acclaim with her award-winning animated shorts Daughter and Electra, is spending her time at La Résidence developing her anticipated feature-length debut, They/Them. The project delves into gender identity and the notion of transcending traditional binary classifications, within the framework of a dystopian narrative.

Besides emerging talents on the Czech animation scene, this year’s Festival de Cannes will also see producer Kristýna Michálek Květová of Cinémotif Films in the 25th edition of the Producers on the Move program. This annual event selects young, enterprising European producers with the aim of connecting them to potential coproduction partners, enhancing their industry networks, and providing them with a prominent and visible platform. Květová brings a wealth of experience, with several films having already premiered internationally. Her portfolio includes Veronika Lišková’s documentary The Visitors; the first ever Czech-Swiss coproduction, Lost in Paradise; and Lišková’s fiction feature debut, Year of the Widow, which recently completed filming.

Among the other Czech projects set to capture the attention of international professionals at Cannes is Bára Jíchová Tyson’s Playtopia, produced by last year’s Producer on the Move, Alice Tabery of Cinepoint. The project will be pitched during the East Doc Platform Showcase at the Docs-in-Progress section of the Marché du Film. Tyson’s sophomore feature, a hybrid documentary that is now in preproduction, creatively merges real and whimsical elements. The film explores power, money, hierarchy, and inequality through the experiences of eight diverse children interacting with the “Playtopia Machine”—a fantastical device in a timeless sci-fi setting that unlocks their imaginations. As the children envision contrasting concepts of “The Good Life” and “The Bad Life,” we see their innate understanding of societal values reflected. With a narrative incorporating live collages, debates, real-life footage, and a suitcase of miniature objects, Tyson poses critical questions about whether our societal structures are aligned with our children’s best interests and future success.

Adding to the roster of Bohemian talents at Cannes, Anna Wowra, who is Polish-born but Czech-based, will participate in the Focus SCRIPT industry initiative, designed to forge new connections with visual arts and film schools, as well as professionals in the short film sector at the Festival de Cannes. Wowra is an alumna of the 2023 Czech Film Springboard, with her upcoming feature-length debut, In Good Faith. She heads to Cannes with the script of her short film in development, First, Do No Harm, produced by Lukáš Procházka of Moviola and coproduced by FAMU. The story follows Alice, a Polish gynecologist and devout Christian, who is confronted with a profound moral dilemma when an old friend seeks an abortion. Alice must weigh her religious convictions and legal obligations against her desire to assist her friend in a time of need.

This year’s edition of the industry initiative Black Nights Goes to Cannes will see a Czech coproduction project presented to sales agents, distributors, and festival programmers. Among the five projects selected in 2024, all either in production or postproduction, is Father by Tereza Nvotová, who previously won the Cineasti del presente Best Director award, at Locarno, for Nightsiren. For her third fiction feature, Czech producer Miloš Lochman of moloko film, who coproduced Nvotová’s debut, Filthy, as well as Nightsiren, continues their creative partnership. Father is inspired by the tragic real-life incident of a father who inadvertently left his infant daughter in the car on a hot summer day, resulting in her death. The film seeks to foster understanding and empathy while portraying the protagonist’s ordeal. Working with Polish director of photography Adam Suzin, Nvotová seeks to create a deeply immersive experience by opting to shoot the drama in a single shot. The premiere of Father is slated for 2025.

And, last but not least, the Czech postproduction outfit Studio Beep, a veteran of such projects as Łukasz Kowalski’s The Pawnshop, Bogna Kowalczyk’s Boylesque, and Beata Parkanová’s The Word, is partnering with the Cannes Frontières Platform. Frontières is the world’s leading international coproduction market and networking platform focused on genre film financing and coproductions between Europe and North America. Winners from the platform’s Proof of Concept selection, as well as Buyers’ Showcase—a selection of projects that includes Hollywood legend Phil Tippett’s latest project, Sentinel—will have the chance to benefit from Studio Beep’s services.

Czech Film Center
division of the Czech Film Fund promoting Czech cinema worldwide



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