Irina (43), a single mother from Ukraine, lives with her son Igor (13) in a small Czech border town. One night she discovers that Igor has been assaulted by three attackers and her whole world comes crashing down.
Hi Michal, it's great to talk to you, how's everything going?
Thank you, it seems everything is going well! As you know, we are in pre-production with my new film called "Victim" and next year there are several projects, that I will be working on. So overall great!
We last spoke in 2017 when you premiered Atlantis, 2003 at the Cinéfondation what was that experience like for you?
It was amazing. The premiere at Cannes opened so many doors and it gave Atlantis absolutely beautiful festival life. The film travelled all around the world and it was just amazing to watch the reactions of so many people.
Atlantis, 2003 also went on to win the Czech Academy Award for Best Short Film, did it surprise you to get such recognition for your short film?
Actually, it did surprise me very much. I am not Czech, but half of the crew was Czech and we had a co-production with Prague based film school FAMU. One year before we won this award a film with Ukrainian theme was also awarded, so I was a little bit sceptical about us. But in the end, it was really great and all the films that were nominated with us were brilliant.
What does it mean to be at L'Atelier 2019 with Victim?
First of all, it gives us this special motivation very short before the shooting, which is planned to start in mid-October. On the other hand, it means that the script and the whole project is interesting for an international audience, which is very important for us.
How important is this opportunity for filmmakers to be part of something like L'Atelier?
It gives you a good platform for negotiating with other partners. Like I mentioned before, we are a quite short time before the shooting, so we have all co-production partners aboard, but to be part of L'Atelier gives us the confidence to communicate with sales agents and distributors.
"It doesn’t mean, that I had to experience everything that I shoot, but there has to be something..."
With this being your debut feature are there any nerves ahead of pitching your film at Cannes?
Me and the producer we have already visited some of the pitching forums with our film, including Trieste and Cottbus, but of course, Cannes will be something completely different. The selection of this year is really strong and to be among such great filmmakers is a great honour for us.
Can you tell me a little bit about Victim, what is behind this film?
Victim tells the story of Irina and Igor. Irina is a single mother, a Ukrainian living in a small Czech town. One night, her teenage son Igor claims that he was assaulted by three young Roma. Irina demands justice and is met with great solidarity by her new society. Until she spots inconsistencies in her son’s account.
How much a role does your own life or experiences have in your films?
I always try to find themes that are close to me and that are very much understandable. It doesn’t mean, that I had to experience everything that I shoot, but there has to be something, that expose certain kind of deep emotion, that I know is common for everyone.
"We have more time for rehearsals, location scouting, everything. It gives us much bigger control of everything."
As a writer/director what are some of the main challenges you face when you are making a new film?
As this is my first feature film, I am very much learning a lot of things. Previously I worked on short student films and it is something completely different. But anyway I have to admit that more than a challenge everything is great!
How different is your approach to this film compared to your shorts?
Everything is much more prepared. We have more time for rehearsals, location scouting, everything. It gives us much bigger control of everything.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Victim when they see it?
It is a story that is social line is very actual and important to talk about. Racism and homophobia are growing in our society and even a little push can start great negativity among people. Hope it is okay! I skipped three questions that I really thought I cannot answer, so hopefully, it will be enough. In the attachment, I am also sending you a still from the film.