2009 Producer on the Move – Czech Republic
by Theo Schwinke
Monika Kristl is managing director and executive producer of Dawson Productions, where she has produced many commercials and music videos as well as various international projects. Her current film, 3 Seasons in Hell [+see also:
film profile], is a co-production between Dawson Production, Babelsberg Film, and Trigon Production, and is supported by Eurimages, MEDIA , and the state funds of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 3 Seasons in Hell is the feature debut of Czech director Tomas Masin.
Cineuropa: How did you get the various partners involved in the project?
Monika Kristl: Good question. I heard so many times that it is quite difficult to finance such an ambitious project these days, especially with a first-time director from the Czech Republic and a budget of €3m. Simply put, I believed in the project and I trusted my intuition. Therefore, I tried to approach people I thought could be the right partners for the project. In the end, Dawson Productions put together 69% of the budget, Babelsberg Film 20%, and Trigon 11%.
Could you have made this film as a purely Czech production?
Of course not. The film itself was bigger than most Czech productions in terms of money and creativity. Our DoP, Karl Oskarsson, is from Iceland. The main actress, Karolina Gruszka, is from Poland. The Slovaks gave us key personnel as well. We wanted to have the right people for our project so we had to see the whole thing wider and across borders. I think we would not have been able to cover our budget without the help of Eurimages and our international co-producers.
Is this a film that will resonate with European audiences?
I am sure the story is strong enough and universal to travel. It is a story of two lovers that takes place in a very complicated time, in 1947, in Prague. Visually it is strong and big, emotional and uplifting. I prefer to show the film and let it speak for itself. We had some private screenings already, and I was told that our film can travel. I believe 3 Seasons in Hell is different not only in its approach to production but also in its unique story and visuals. We are looking for a sales agent now.
How would you appraise contemporary Czech cinema?
The reputation of Czech film has not been very strong in the last 40 years. Nowadays, it's comedies with lots of dialog. There are some exceptions in terms of themes, but still it seems very local to me. It seems to be picking up slowly. It would be fantastic to achieve the level of the Czech New Wave filmmakers again. Czech filmmakers are travelling more and more. We need to develop our market a bit more to be able to offer a proper collaboration with European producers, in terms of European cinema.
Does “European cinema” exist, distinct from the cinemas of the various nations?
European cinema for me is as natural as getting on a plane and having a meeting or dinner in some other European city. I understand the people there and find inspiration and new experiences at the same time. This is my understanding of European cinema. I am talking about films that I can understand and the story takes me in. Then there is personal taste, which is a different story. If we talk about the cinema of the various nations, I can see a film talking to people about a subject that is foreign to me. Therefore, I cannot identify and may be not interested unless the film is talking about my place and local stuff.
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