David Súkup • Co-director of Of Unwanted Things and People
"Since the beginning, there has been this idea to have a united artistic approach"
- We caught up with David Súkup, one of the directors of Of Unwanted Things and People, the project that won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the 21st edition of Cartoon Movie
The project that won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the 21st edition of Cartoon Movie was Of Unwanted Things and People, an animated omnibus film featuring stop-motion puppets, directed by David Súkup (Czech Republic), Ivana Laučíková (Slovakia), Leon Vidmar (Slovenia) and Agata Gorządek (Poland). Cineuropa spoke to Súkup about this complex project and the state of animation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Cineuropa: Tell us how this ambitious project came together and how you came up with the stories with the other directors.
David Súkup: The idea came from [Czech producer at MAUR Film] Martin Vandas. While he was searching for bedtime reading for his youngest daughter, he discovered a book of modern fairy tales by Czech actor and author Arnošt Goldflam. As Martin says, he was charmed by the imagination, humour and sensitive storytelling exploring things and people that regain their value and meaning, even though at first glance they may seem worthless.
I have collaborated with Martin on a range of previous projects, and we know each other well, and trust and respect one another. When he presented this project to his colleagues at the Višegrad Animation Forum (VAF) in 2016, he described it as an opportunity to develop it as an equal Central European co-production by countries with similar historical and economic experiences. Ultimately, this common background was confirmed the moment the other partners read these fairy tales.
Was the plan to make a kind of omnibus film with four co-producing countries from the start, and why? How do you see the current situation in the CEE animation field, especially since VAF became CEE Animation?
Yes, the project has been intended as an omnibus ever since it was conceived. But after the last meeting between the producers, directors and other artists in Slovakia at the end of February, we found a better solution – all of the stories are going to be connected on a deep level via the main one about a granny living in a matchbox, from where she guards and protects her loved ones. This fairy tale also stems from a story by Arnošt Goldflam, but at the same time, it gives the other fairy tales more continuity, a more profound meaning and an extra layer. Since the beginning, there has been this idea to link the parts of the film on more than one level – to have a united artistic approach, and one music composer and other creative professionals whom we will share between us as directors.
I see CEE Animation as an incredibly energetic, beneficial, creative and active platform that connects producers from the region of Central and Eastern Europe. It grows from a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, and it brings opportunities to get to know talents and different types of creativity from all corners of the region. Also, it is a strong incentive for our national funds because the project brings a feature-length movie at a reasonable cost, with broad distribution potential and significant experience of international cooperation for all of the participants.
How did you decide upon one unique visual style and stop-motion puppet technique?
The visual style was clear from the beginning. I worked with [Spanish art designer] Patricia Ortiz Martinez on my previous fairy tale Reason and Luck, from the movie Fimfárum - Third Time Lucky, and I was very happy. Also, I know from her other work that over the years, she has gained an enormous amount of experience in and knowledge of working with puppets. She has her own, utterly original artistic style, and thanks to her experience, she has a gravitas that is respected by all of my directorial colleagues. On top of that, this puppet technique has a long tradition in the CEE region, and despite all of the historical gaps, there are some experienced animators and other professionals who can offer high-quality work suitable for international distribution.
What does the Eurimages Development Award mean for the project?
Winning the Eurimages Development Award was a moment of great joy for all of us. It’s a miracle! It has come at an important time, when all of the co-production applications are being evaluated in all four participating countries. It brings us an added element of credibility and trustworthiness. At the same time, we see it as an obligation, a responsibility, because we are aware of the prestige that the Eurimages brand entails. After all, our intention to use this unexpected bit of financial help in order to test our stories out on child viewers and consult on their impact with experienced child psychologists and therapists is an expression of our feeling of responsibility towards these young viewers, whom the film targets and whom we in no way want to subject to any kind of negative experience.
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