Interview with the Int’l Expert Jury in the Children’s Film Category: “Oh my God, that’s Simon again!”
The main jury… they are supposed to be the crown jewels of the festival, the icing on the cake, respectable, indespicable, dignified… Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if you might suddenly find them performing an iconic scene from DIRTY DANCING, or going on a date with a feisty grandma. This is what you need to know about Jitka Schneiderova (actress - Czech Republic), Simon Crowe (sales & distribution – UK) and Katarina Launing (director – Norway / Sweden).
Let’s check how good you got to know each other during the last few days… Who has been drinking the most?
Katarina Launing: Him!
Jitka Schneiderova: Him!
Simon Crowe: I’m English… I’m guilty.
Who has been talking the most?
Katarina & Jitka: Simon!
Who has been falling asleep during screenings?
Katarina & Jitka: Oh my God, that’s Simon again!
What impression have the city of Zlin and the festival made on you?
Simon: Coming from London, I’ve been very impressed. This is such a nice, clean city. I love the roads, they seem to be empty while I’m used to being crammed in commuter hell. The organisation has been excellent. With Suzanna, we had a fantastic helper on hand to make everything run smoothly. There was lots of food and drinks and everyone has been incredibly hospitable and friendly.
Katarina: The hospitality has been amazing. And if I may add, this is a very interesting town in terms of architecture. It looks like the entire city has been built around the same time, basically in the twenties or thirties, to support the Bata shoe industry.
After exactly 4 minutes and 1 second, the magic word has already been brought up… Bata! Which brings us unavoidably to the next question: who has something to say about shoes?
Simon: I’m not a fashionista. I did bring one pair of shoes which I’ve worn all the time, and that’s my trainers. They have been very useful as we’ve been walking up and down the hill, in and out of town for screenings.
Jitka: I have lots of shoes.
Katarina: I’m very tall – 1.90 – so I absolutely hate high heels. I’m glad that you don’t apply the Cannes principle of throwing people out for not wearing high heels on the red carpet. Thank you for that.
Pick one director from the entire film history that you think once should make or have made a children’s film.
Katarina: I would love to see horror director James Wan making something for kids. As a child, I loved being scared - that was so much fun – and this edginess is missing a bit in children’s movies in general.
Simon: What about Lars von Trier?
Jitka: In Czech Republic, Vaclav Vorlicek made all the fairy-tale-films. I wish he could make one more.
Which is the last film that has made you laugh or cry out loud?
Simon: I really enjoyed Ben Affleck’s AIR, I thought it was terrific, and I’ve been talking this week about JOHN WICK, because it’s such an extraordinary film showing action in a new light. Actually I don’t think any of them made me laugh or cry though.
Jitka: TAR was more about crying than about laughing. I loved it.
What was your favourite animal in this week’s selection?
Katarina: The lion in JUST SUPER.
Simon: That’s a costume! The animal that made me laugh today was not from a film; it was a big German shepherd dog, trying to drink water from the Golden Slipper fountain. The water kept rising and falling, and the dog kept trying to follow it. That was rather lovely.
Which mature character that you saw on screen this week would you like to get to know better and maybe ask out on a date?
Katarina: I would like to get to know Hedvig a bit better, from JUST SUPER. She was a very funny and endearing character, but she doesn’t fit the qualification ‘mature character’. Since you’re clearly aiming for ‘getting romantically involved’, there was this rock teacher in the Icelandic film 12 HOURS TO DESTRUCTION who was so endearing; he sang the whole time. I would take him out on a date.
He might need it. His first line in the film was: “nothing lasts forever”.
Katarina: He needs to find love. Apparently he doesn’t expect our date to last forever.
Simon: The grandmother from DANCING QUEEN was a feisty, spirited and loving character.
Jitka: I also wanted to name her. She was very authentic.
For many years, the Zlin Festival had the tradition of putting a country in focus: a specific country represented with a retrospective selection of films. Which country would deserve such a focus, according to you?
Katarina: Remembering KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS, I would love to find out more about cinema in Africa, learning about a culture that is basically not visible.
Simon: My main professional focus is on European animation. I would probably go for the Far East. The world is focussed on South-Korea these days for adult programming, but I would be interested in children’s programming from Korea, Japan or emerging South-East Asian markets, which we probably haven’t seen before.
Could you imagine yourself having a parallel career that has nothing to do with cinema?
Katarina: Cooking! Like Gordon Ramsey, I would scream at everybody. You too, Simon?
Simon: You obviously don’t know how well I cook. My family doesn’t allow me to cook. But I would like to do something in travelling. The experience of visiting different places, meeting different people is what I find really interesting.
Jitka: I love to dance; I would like to be a ballerina.
Simon: We’ve been watching Jitka walking around the town – like a ballerina – and she is like a magnet. Everybody wants a photo and an autograph from her, and she is all the time so patient.
Was there a moment this week when you realised the audience was smarter than you expected?
Simon: Watching BIG DREAMS was a brilliant experience because the audience loved the film. The most exciting part was the questions they kept on throwing to the actors in the Q&A. There you saw a truly smart, engaged audience. It was really special to be in a cinema and see that reaction.
Katarina: You would imagine that today’s kids would simply walk out on a slow-paced film, but I have also seen patience with young audiences when a story was moving at a slower paste. I was surprised.
Which topics would you like to see addressed in a young audience film?
Simon: I would like to see optimism, among the many films that are a bit on the dark side: positivity, comedy and lightness, films ending with an upbeat message. That is what I am looking for in scripts going forward at the moment. Optimism is an important message for young people today.
Jitka: I saw a lot of beautiful friendships, and a lot of hope for the future.
Katarina: I would like to see relationships between adult and child characters. I feel a tendency in Norway – and probably around Europe – to use adult characters mainly as obstacles. Why not integrate them in a more positive aspect, as they are still a large part of a child’s world and should not be simply reduced to bad people.
Jitka: The grandma in DANCING QUEEN was a good and positive example.
From the entire film history, which role would you have liked to play as an actor / actress?
Simon & Katarina: This one is for you, Jitka! And you can’t say TAR again!
Jitka: Ouch, give me 30 minutes! There is a difference between enjoying the performance, or appreciating the professional challenge. I’d love to play the role of Meryl Streep in SOPHIE’S CHOICE. But if it was just about having fun, I would do DIRTY DANCING.
Katarina: I would do Golem! I love that character, so despicable, but at the same time he made me cry my heart out. It is a very physical role, including special effects, but as a director I’m interested in the body language, and working with a body to Golem’s extend would be so much fun.
Simon: I just re-watched APOCALYPSE NOW; I adore this film but I don’t think I’d want to play any of those roles. If I’d play on a safe bet I could say James Bond. But Nicolas Cage had a pretty wild ride in LEAVING LAS VEGAS, and suddenly the idea became quite fancy to be Patrick Swayze in DIRTY DANCING.
Jitka: Yes! We can try it this evening!
Simon: You are very safe. That is not going to happen.
I’m actually looking forward to seeing all these films. Do you have any advice for the programme committee of this festival?
Simon: This week we’ve been talking a lot about storytelling; it got to be about great stories. If I was going to run my festival, I would open it to other non-European territories that maybe were lightly thought about earlier, a section from Africa, or Latin America, or emerging markets.
Even if Europe might have been over-represented, this festival also has a section with films from around the world. This year we surely had some films from Peru, South Korea, Chili, Kazakhstan, Columbia,…
Simon: You could allow us to stay longer, and then we could watch more films!
Katarina: I know of a movie that was banned in Berlin. To me that is such a terrible thing to do. It is important to speak about the cancelling culture that we are seeing more and more. I would like to thank you for showing JUST SUPER, saying ‘we don’t agree’ on the cancelling culture, and for not running with the pack. As I always say to myself: If you want to be first, you have to move against the crowd, and only then you can find out what will be around the next corner.
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One hundred volunteers of the Zlín Film Festival. Thank you!
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Thanks to the festival juries!