Which Czech films are screening at the Cannes Film Festival this year?

Two FAMU graduates’ films were selected to compete at the Cannes Film Festival.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.05.2023 14:00:00 (updated on 18.05.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

The 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival opened on May 16 and has already proven an eventful outing. With labor protesters threatening to cut the power supply and a controversial standing ovation for actor Johnny Depp, an honored guest at last year's Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the red carpet has been kept on its well-heeled toes.

Among the Czech film is represented in the French Riviera this week by two student films competing in La Cinef, the festival’s competition section formerly known as Cinéfondation, writes The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) in a news release.

"The participation of FAMU’s films in this year’s edition of the festival is an extraordinary achievement: the jury rarely selects two films from the same country, much less the same film school, for the most prestigious student film competition," said FAMU.

Daria Kashcheeva’s highly anticipated short Electra and director Petr Pylypčuk’s feature drama Eighth Day will screen at Cannes this year.

Electra: A Greek myth with a modern twist

Kashcheeva, a master's student at FAMU’s Department of Animated Film, made her mark in the world of animated film with 2019's Daughter, an intimate short story about the relationship between a daughter and her father. The short garnered dozens of awards at international festivals, winning a Student Oscar and being shortlisted for the Academy Awards’ main competition.

For her thesis film, the director drew inspiration from Greek mythology, taking the character of Electra to the modern era with her original vision. The film’s heroine attempts to define herself in relation to her mother and understand her mixed emotions toward her father. Over time, she becomes isolated in her own world and develops a relationship with her own body and sexuality.

“My narrative structure was inspired by the course of psychotherapy. During the sessions, clients ‘dance’ around their memories of a traumatic experience. They jump from the past to the present, and images and memories transform. Combining the pixilation animation technique with real acting has allowed me to fine-tune the story’s fabric,” said Kashcheeva. 

The Czech-Slovak-French co-production has a final cut of 26 minutes, an unusual length for an animated short. 

“The majority of shooting took part in the main room of FAMU Studio in Klimentská over the course of 95 filming days,” adds Zuzana Křivková of MAUR film, a Czech production firm and the film’s chief producer. 

“The extensive international co-operation gave us benefits such as, for example, being able to procure sophisticated life-size animation puppets in the style of Barbie dolls in France and have our Slovak co-producer take care of the full range of image post-production tasks,” said producer Martin Vandas.

Eighth Day: Slaying the patriarchy

Petr Pylypčuk's feature film, Eighth Day (Osmý den) deals with the topic of growing up in the environment of a radical religious sect. Inspired by the director’s personal experience, the film tells the story of adolescent Anna who decides to escape the religious community along with her peer Josef and face life’s challenges outside its limits. Watch the trailer here.

Still from Eighth Day / Perfilm
Still from Eighth Day / Perfilm

“It is a story of the clash between free will and ideological indoctrination, to which children are exposed while growing up in this toxic patriarchal environment,” said Pylypčuk. “Eighth Day covers the topics of domestic violence, distorted relationships, sexuality, and individuality,” the director said, adding the topics are crucial throughout his work. 

“To us, the cast is the key to the film. The characters of Anna and Josef are played by non-actors whom we selected in extensive auditions from among more than 100 candidates from all over the Czech Republic,” added producer Kryštof Burda. 

Eighth Day will premiere globally at Cannes. This is the first film coming from FAMU’s Department of Directing to be featured at the festival in eight years.

FAMU student continue to produce 'innovative' work on 'powerful' themes

Dean of FAMU Andrea Slováková said she considers live contact with the global cinema a key element in modern audiovisual education. She called the work of FAMU students "innovative, courageous, powerful and pioneering aesthetically."

"I am proud of the fact that these two films...will represent our school at the world’s most prestigious film festival. I am happy for our students, as this gives them an opportunity to receive diverse feedback from the global cinema community, and also because all the world can see how extraordinary FAMU’s output is,” Slováková said in a statement.

This year’s achievements are not the first that FAMU students have scored at Cannes. Anna Podskalská’s Red Shoes was selected to represent FAMU in the Cinéfondation section in 2021; in previous years, One Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand by Ondřej Erban (2019), Retriever by Tomáš Klein and Tomáš Merta (2015), Pandas by Matúš Vizár (2013), Tambylles by Michal Hogenauer (2012), and Cagey Tigers directed by the late Aramisova (2011) represented Czechia at the festival. Bába, a bachelor’s graduation feature film by Zuzana Kirchnerová, won the Cinéfondation section in 2009. 

La Cinef winners get an opportunity to present their films at L’Atelier Cannes, which connects industry professionals to promising projects and gives filmmakers an opportunity to reach international distribution.

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