Just a few days after its victory at the International Festival of Animated Films in Třeboň, this film from the Prague Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts was competing in Cannes. It didn’t bring home a Palme, howeverthis black comedy about death with a happy ending attracted attention in Cannes. The fact that the Czech student Jan Saska was present at the renowned film festival was a great success. His six-minute-long “Happy End” was among the favourites of the Quinzaine des réalisateurs / Directors’ Fortnight section, being the only Czech representative there.
Happy End is a typically Czech farce full of hunters, drunkards and morbid humour. “There is something very Czech about the film – the tractor riding around to the sounds of the band Alkehol and the clinking of a case of beer. In another chapter hunters are shooting, a person gets run over by an old Škoda car, capped byautumn, woods and fields. There’s a certain local peculiarity. Yet at the same time there is no dialogue and the narrative methods are rather traditional;thus one can talk about some international comprehensibility,” the author of the film Jan Saska explains.
In Cannes the film was warmly received, just as it was at Anifilm 2016 in Třeboň, where it won the International Competition of Student Animated Films.
It is in black and whiteas a reference to classic slapstick comedies and black humour. This is universal, the author believes. “It varies from screening to screening, as the mood in the audience matters a lot as well but most responses are beyond expectations, which we are naturally happy to see. Next week we are going to the student festival in Tel Aviv, then to Annecy, and I’ve just been told that the movie has been entered in the competition in Guanajuato in Mexico,” says Saska about Happy End’s successful world tour. Besides the film itself, he believes it is due to the producer Kamila Dohnalová, who has been taking care of all the applications and festival administration.
Saska had originally drawn a picture with a mouse, submitting it as his BA work at the Department of Animation of the Faculty of Multimedia Communications in Zlín. He later worked on it for another three years at the Prague Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts after the animationstudio was closed down in Zlín.
In 2013 he took part in the pitching competition of the Visegrad Animation Forum with Happy End. “The pitching in Třeboň helped us in several ways – on one hand it was the first major experience outside school; at the same time the fact that it was the first time a lot us had taken part in something like this was taken into careful consideration and the Forum involved a quite thorough training. We had an opportunity to deal with most mistakes and gain some confidence in a dry run. Which I consider no less important than the chance to get funding for the project, as we didn’t suffer any trauma because of a lack of experience right at the start,” Saska appreciates.
Happy End (2015)
5 min 41 sec
A black comedy about death, however as the title suggests, with a happy ending. The story is based on a chain of peculiar coincidences and situations placing several characters directly in the position of presumed murderers. The author projected his distinctive style in both the visual and the narrative aspects of the film.
Director and animation: Jan Saska
Technique: drawing on paper, 2D computer animation, 3D computer animation
Producer: Kamila Dohnalová
Music: Martin Klusák
Production: FAMU(Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts)
A short sample can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/166108448