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Cannes Film Festival
24th Cinéfondation 2021

Anna Podskalská 
RUDÉ BOTY / Red Shoes

A story of desire, which turns into obsession, based on European folk tales. The village dance has begun and Róza hasn’t been invited to dance. Suddenly, an unknown stranger appears, inviting Róza to dance, giving her a pair of red shoes...

Hi Anna, thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?

Hello, thank you for having me! I feel privileged to say that covid times didn't affect me negatively. To be honest I kinda enjoyed the first lockdown. For me it was time to slow down, to give attention to my unimportant personal projects such as drawing or baking homemade bread (that was such a trend in the Czech Republic during lockdown!). But now things are going back to normal and so is the workload...

Have you been inspired to take on any new creative opportunities?

Yes of course! I just started to prepare my upcoming master film and I confirm to myself that folktales and folk art is my biggest and endless source of inspiration. This time I want to depict a unique demonic little creature called "plivník" from Czech folklore. It looks like black wet chicken or a goblin. If you find one and take him to your home, he serves you no matter what, which can easily turn against you. He sticks with you even if you don't want to! It could be a personification of an event that hunts you and this film could be a tragicomedy about how to get rid of it.

How much did your time and experience at FAMU prepare you for your filmmaking journey?

Our department of animated film on FAMU is a truly free creative environment. We are encouraged to cooperate with other departments such as the department of editing, sound or production. It is common that during the first years of study you form your team of closest coworkers, who stay together even in professional life after finishing school. I hope it's my case too!

Congratulations on Red Shoes being selected for the 24th Cinéfondation, what does it mean to you to have your film part of this year's festival?

Thank you! I'm really honoured to be in the selection, to be honest, I still canť believe it! It's like living any filmmaker's dream. I am really looking forward to visiting a festival, all the more so because I haven't been abroad for nearly two years now! I love the inspiring ambience of festivals, all those different approaches and original thought... I'm hyped! 

Can you tell me how Red Shoes came about, what inspired this animation?

Red Shoes are inspired by European folk tales. It's a story of desire, which turns into obsession. We aimed to approach Red Shoes as a timeless narrative of addiction with the lyrical language of a fairy tale. I love how you can depict such a heavy theme through this big stylization and it works well.

So of course my biggest inspiration are fairy tales! Even as a child I loved those raw and kinda bloody traditional ones. At home, we had one book of Slavic tales with beautiful art nouveau style illustrations and I was enchanted by them. Years later I realize how much it inspired me in my work. As an adult, I've started to read tales as incredible material because I really enjoy adapting "old" things in a new way. I'm so fascinated by the unchained passionate imagination of folk tales!

Another source of inspiration to me is Slavic folklore, especially Moravian folklore, I'm from Moravia, it's an eastern part of the Czech Republic. A few years back I started discovering its beauty and richness. I'm watching a new growing trend in my generation when we try to re-discover our local cultural legacy. I think it's the effect of globalization, now we want to go back to our roots with curiosity and to learn about something that was kinda out of focus for some time... In my opinion, folklore is neither archaic nor untouchable. For example, I admire the postmodern approach to folklore music when it is originally and sensitively combined with electronic instruments etc. With the sound designer Václav Kopelec we tried this way too and strove to honour the folklore which is very close to our hearts.

And the visuals were strongly influenced by 19th-century paintings obviously. By those juicy landscapes and (romanticized) rural scenes... The chosen technique of paint-on-glass animation is made for this style.

You co-wrote Red Shoes with Matěj Podskalský, who also served as your editor, how important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking when working on a short animation like Red Shoes?

This is such a good question! In an animated film, it would be painful to cut out pieces of shots you animated for days for example. So we tend to "edit" this film even before it was animated. With Matěj we prepared a very detailed storyboard in which we tested if every shot was in the right place. Matěj really cares about well-told visual narratives and has a very good sense of film language. At the beginning of writing a screenplay, I tended to add unnecessary things "just for beauty", but Matěj was also like a screen editor and made it simple and well functioning. I really appreciate the creative dialogue we have. (And our collaboration is so close that we got married this spring...).


"I love filmmaking but I also enjoy doing "static" things such as my illustrated deck of cards or an illustrated calendar."

Do you allow yourself much flexibility with your screenplay or do you like to stick to what you have written?

We allowed ourselves freedom while writing a screenplay, it was a very interesting and creative work to adapt an original folktale, take pieces of a story and build it in a new way. But then, as I just mentioned, we made very precise preparation of shots and I stick with that while animating. Pure improvisation was just in case of movements of the main characters' dance. Especially in the climax of her "dance of death". The background was set and general emotion has given but the final movement and choreography were up to me and my animation was led by the current moment. 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking and animation?

I remember my childhood memory as I was standing in front of my parents' library and told my mum that I want to be an illustrator. Then I kinda forgot that but kept drawing. I remembered that years after I started studying illustration at high school. Thanks to one of my professors, I came up with an idea to study animation after that and it was the perfect choice. It combines my passion for drawing and film storytelling. I love filmmaking but I also enjoy doing "static" things such as my illustrated deck of cards or an illustrated calendar. These works I love to share on my IG profile. I like how it keeps on sight and doesn't disappear after a few minutes on a screen! 

How different was your approach to Red Shoes compared to your other animation The Crossing?

I worked as an animator on The Crossing for a year and a half almost and it was a lifetime experience. I've learned the paint-on-glass techniques there. The Crossing is the first feature film animated with this technique. The biggest change at this project was keeping incoherence to all drawing styles of all animators (at least 15 as I know). It isn't easy to keep someone else's style while animating ahead. You have nearly no possibility to correct your drawing afterwards. In my own film, I was free of that. I simply painted what I wanted as I wanted. And I think that the quickest and rawest the drawing is, the better it looks. 

Is there any advice or tips you would offer a fellow animator?

Hm...Try to do not to compare yourself to others while animating. It doesn't matter if someone is able to animate 12 hours in a row and you just 6 hours. When you stretch over our limit the result usually isn't even good... But that's just my experience. 

And finally, what do you want audiences to take away from Red Shoes?

Please, just be able to stop at the right time.

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