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Iveta Grófóva • Director

“Most people pretend to not see what happens there”


- The Slovak filmmaker Iveta Grofova screened her feature debut Made in Ash at the 53rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival. She explains why she chose to explore a social drama.

Iveta Grófóva • Director

Slovak filmmaker Iveta Grofova unveiled her first feature Made in Ash [+see also:
film review
interview: Iveta Grófóva
interview: Jiří Konečný
film profile
in the Open Horizons selection at the 53rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival. Cineuropa spoke to her at the festival.

Cineuropa: With your training in animation, why choose a very hard subject and an almost documentary treatment for your first film?
Iveta Grofova: After secondary school, I was looking for a student job and ended up in the little town of Ash where I worked at a seamstress in a textile factory. I was able to realise how tough life was for these women. I met girls who had lived the same events and the film is very personal from a psychological point of view even if I didn’t experience the situations that I show on screen myself. I studied animation in Bratislava and really liked this field, but I was so revolted by some of the things in my life and those around me that I decided to make films about these subjects. Many people know nothing or don’t care about these social dramas. Ash is a place near Prague, but most people pretend to not see what happens there.

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Why did you not stick to the original idea of a documentary?
Viera Bacikova, my director of photography, and I had already made documentaries and we also intended to treat this subject in the same way, but I soon realised that what was important for me was to show the changes and destiny of one girl in particular according to the circumstances. When I found this girl, I could not imagine following her and filming her without intervening in the dramas she was experiencing and changing the course of things. It was far too intimate and, from that point, I knew that if I wanted to tell this story, it had to be through fiction while keeping a naturalist treatment that was as close as possible to documentary.

Was it easy to find funding for a film tackling this subject in such a head-on way?
The film’s development and funding started in Slovakia. The first financial support that we received was from the ministry of culture. It’s only during the last days of shooting that we were approached by Jiří Konečný, the Czech co-producer. In fact, he wasn’t very convinced by the subject, which he thought was boring and had already been covered many times. The form interested him more. But he hadn’t quite realised how real this all was. He was affected when we screened the film in schools in Ash. When we asked how many girls had been through experiences similar to the events in the film, they all put their hand up.

The film is representing Slovakia in the pre-selection for the 2013 Oscar for best film in a foreign language. What was the impact of this nomination?
It's a great opportunity in the context of Slovakia’s cinematic year. I don’t think that Made in Ash is the type of film that has the prerequisites to receive a real nomination by the Oscar Academy. But, thanks to this national nomination, interest in the film has increased in Slovakia and the public wants to see it, whereas generally national productions only hold little attraction.

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