12. 9. 2020

Why THE PACK is an important film for Czech audiences? We asked the teenagers and producers

The city of Zlin might represent one of the strongest cinematic traditions in the country, but never before we saw the city so outspoken as location for a Czech live action feature as in THE PACK. We wanted to find out what this film really means for local youngsters. What is the opinion of the true target audience, and how much does this film represent the lives of Czech teenagers today? The festival is the perfect occasion to meet with 14-year-old pupils from the Sports Academy, and producers Julietta Sichel and Jan Froněk (8Heads Productions).

 When ice hockey goalkeeper David joins The Wolves,  a fictional Zlín ice-hockey club, power dynamics within the team are disrupted. David’s position is weakened, due to a rivalling competitor, his father's burning ambition, and a flirt with a good-looking fan. The bullying within the team becomes untenable and the coach merely stands by, powerless.

 

I’m a teacher at the Sports Academy. For me this movie totally reflects the reality, including the overambitious parents projecting their dreams onto their children. I recognized those power structures among the young players, mirroring the dynamics within a real ice hockey team.

Marie – teacher

 

Why Zlin?

Julietta Sichel: The story was written for Zlin from the very beginning. With the exception of 2 days, THE PACK was entirely shot here. Right when we were trying to get this movie financed, the Zlin county launched a programme for the support of audio-visual productions. We were one of the first projects supported through this programme.

Jan Fronek: The idea of coming here was already there before the fund was launched. We thought opening up this region for film production was important.

 

You mean, a small provincial town, away from the capital?

Sichel: The story could be set in any small Czech city, but not in Prague! Many filmmakers have come here since and discovered a region that has a lot to offer. You can shoot in the city and in nature, and the University creates an active atmosphere. For film students and professionals, film production might create extra jobs.

 

I am a newcomer in my swimming team and I recognized a bit of myself in the story. I am happy they didn’t do things to me like what happened in the film, but still I experienced how you can feel as a newcomer, and how difficult it is. That is why I liked this film a lot.

Alena – student (14)

 

Long time ago since we saw a film that tells about the everyday lives of Czech teenagers.

Sichel: Often filmmakers might think that all you need to make a children’s film is having a kid in the lead role. But that isn’t enough. You need to tell a story that is relevant for the young audience, a story about their lives. Maybe you have to simplify things, making it easier for them to identify. It is a long time ago since this was done in Czech cinema, which once used to be famous for it. We haven’t had a film like this in years. We consulted the youngsters about their language and emotions. During the script process we asked several children about what they would do, say and feel in certain situations. We discussed with the young cast what was credible and what wasn’t.

 

I often watch Czech movies but they are not made for young people. This one stands close to my everyday life.

Jindra – student (14)

 

You have a strong believe in the judging abilities of your target audience.

Sichel: Here in Zlin many people - youngsters and adults - told us: this film shows exactly how things are in real life, we recognize the characters, both among the players and their parents, and we know many boys and girls who are exactly like this.

 

Even the girls?

Sichel: There are two types of girls in the film, and both have their reasons to be like they are. Don’t judge too quickly, try to understand their motivations. Also the blond ‘cheerleader type’ is dreaming of a better life, and therefore uses the methods that she thinks are best. I know thousands of girls like her. The other girl is a much more classic youth film character, she is interesting, creative and she opens David’s eyes by asking simple questions. But the schools are full of blonde cheerleaders, and all the boys want to date a girl like her. Again this stands so close to the lives of our target audience.

 

I think that boys playing ice hockey really behave like this. Maybe not always this evil, but things like this do happen all the time. Still I would love to date an ice hockey player.

Julie – student (14)

 

With THE PACK 8heads made its first young audience production.

Sichel: We were totally convinced that we needed a film like this, set in an ice hockey environment. We are an ice hockey nation, just like our co-producing countries Latvia and Slovakia. It was director Tomas Polensky who came with an idea for a short film, but it had such potential that we developed it into a feature.

Fronek: We loved the idea from the first moment, and all the time kept telling ourselves: this is not a film for us. We will ask them – the young people – about what bothers them, what moves them and what worries them.

 

I am not an ice hockey player but I had similar experiences in my football team. Luckily it wasn’t as terrible as in the film, but I do know situations like this really exist. I believe this film could be a support for kids in such situations.
Jakub – student (14)