The Annecy International Animation Film Festival will give floor to world premieres of two Czech long-awaited animated feature films – My Sunny Maad in Feature Films in Competition and Even Mice Belong in Heaven in the Screening Events section. Furthermore, short film Sisters has been selected for the Graduation Short Films in Competition section.
Celebrated animator Michaela Pavlátová garnered international attention with her short film Words, Words, Words in Annecy in 1991 (followed by an Oscar nomination in 1993), and also presented at the festival shorts Repete (in 1995, Berlinale’s Golden Bear for Best Short Film same year), Carnival of Animals (in 2007) and Tram (winner of The Annecy Cristal in 2012). This year, the director celebrates a comeback with her long-prepared animation feature My Sunny Maad which will compete in Annecy’s Feature Films in Competition. The film is produced by Petr Oukropec and Kateřina Černá of Negativ in co-production with French Sacrebleu Productions, Slovak BFILM and Czech Television. International sales are handled by Totem Films.
Pavlátová paints a picture of society in post-Taliban Afghanistan using the story of Herra, a Czech woman, who falls in love with Nazir, an Afghan, and has no idea about the life that awaits her in a new country, nor about the family she is about to join.
“The story lays on gentle humour and well observed everyday details of the family life,” says Michaela Pavlátová about her film, adapted for the screen by Ivan Arsenjev (Shadow Country) and based on the critically acclaimed and popular book Freshta (2012, Stork Press, UK) by Petra Procházková, a Czech investigative and war reporter with a pile of personal experience of the realities of Afghanistan and everyday family life there.
The Czech Film Fund supported My Sunny Maad with EUR 807 000 for both development and production and backed the film also within the incentives programme with EUR 392 000. As a project in the making, the film was supported by Creative Europe – MEDIA within the slate programme in 2013 and by the Eurimages (EUR 340 000 in 2019) as well, and it was presented at Cartoon Forum or Venice GAP Financing Market.
My Sunny Maad is the first Czech film in Annecy’s feature film competition since Břetislav Pojar’s The Time of Butterfiles (in 1993). In the last two decades, two Czech films by Jan Balej appeared Out of Competition: One Night in a City (in 2007) and Little from the Fish Shop (in 2015).
Czech-French-Polish-Slovak co-production feature Even Mice Belong in Heaven, selected for the exclusive Screening Events section, tells an adventurous story about a little mouse Whizzy and Whitebelly the fox, who after an unfortunate accident meet in animal heaven where they lose their natural instincts and gradually become best friends. Their wish to stay together after they return to earth comes true, but they are reborn into opposite roles. Thanks to the power of friendship, they can even overcome what seems to be impossible.
The puppet-animated film is directed by Denisa Grimmová & Jan Bubeníček (Murderous Tales, 2016) and produced by Vladimír Lhoták of Fresh Films (CZ) & Alexandre Charlet of Les Films du Cygne (FR). The co-producers include Grzegorz Wacławek & Piotr Szczepanowicz of Animoon (PL), Marek Jeníček & Tomáš Janísek of CinemArt SK (SK), Czech Television (CZ), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Cinéma (FR), DD Production (CZ), Barrandov Studio (CZ) and EC1 Łódż (PL).
International sales are handled by French sales company Charades.
It has been a long journey for the creators of “Mice” to world premiere at the world’s biggest animation festival. The idea of adapting Iva Procházková’s eponymic book came up in 2010 and within two years, the development of the project started. The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund for development (EUR 23 000 in 2012), production (EUR 338 000 in 2014) and also in the incentives programme (EUR 321 000 in 2020), by the Creative Europe – MEDIA (EUR 60 000 in 2014) and by the Eurimages Fund (EUR 370 000 in 2018).
Moreover, the Mice are no newcomers to the festival. In 2014, the creators presented the project within the Mifa Pitches programme and it was also part of Works in Progress in 2019. In addition, the film was presented at Junior Co-production Market (winner of the Eurimages Co-production Development Award – Special Mention), at Cartoon Movie, in Malmö, Montréal, Stuttgart, etc.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven will celebrate its world premiere on June 16th within the Screening Events section, focused on major French and international premieres and exclusive never-seen-before content. The last Czech film to appear in this section was Jan Švankmajer’s Insect back in 2018.
In Sisters, selected for Graduation Short Films in Competition, director and FAMU student Andrea Szelesová tells an allegorical story of the Big Sister – a person of colossal size – who is trapped in sand in a deserted landscape. With no way to take care of herself, this burden falls on her resentful little sister. The film will be screened in Annecy in world premiere as well.
Czech student films have a strong tradition of participation in the Graduation Short Films in Competition. Twenty-five Czech films participated in this section over the last 25 years, including Verica Pospíšilová Kordić’s Way of Silvie (2020), Daria Kashcheeva’s Daughter (Cristal for a Graduation Film, Junior Jury Award for a Graduation Film in 2019), Jan Saska’s Happy End (2016), Kateřina Karhánková’s The New Species (2014), Martin Živocký’s The Case (2011) or Tomáš Luňák’s Acrobat (2001).
The article has been taken over from the website of Czech Film Center