30/5 — 5/6/2024
64th International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
12. 6. 2023

Interview with the Expert Jury for Student Film Zlin Dog: “We should have more giraffes in our lives”

Festivals are a competitive battlefield. Even outside the official award systems, juries compete with each other for giving the most whacked interview. One team that left all competitors in the shadow. That Golden Slipper goes to Šimon Holý (director, script writer - Czech Republic), Ursula van den Heuvel (festival distributor - the Netherlands) and Martin Kudláč (film journalist - Slovakia), aka the Zlin Dog Jury.

Let’s find out how good you got to know each other this week. Which one of you has been drinking the most?

Martin Kudláč: Simon!


Which one has been talking the most?

Šimon Holý: Also me.


Who has been falling asleep during screenings?

Martin: It’s a hattrick!

Simon: I had a great festival!


Who has been swearing the most.

Simon: That’s Martin. All the time!


If you as a festival organiser could steal one thing from this festival and take it home with you, what would that be?

Ursula van den Heuvel: The city! Our festival is in Amsterdam, but I prefer the city of Zlin. I find it much nicer and more relaxing here.


Any other impressions to share about this city?

Martin: It’s surprisingly green. 

Simon: I’m shocked. He just answered your question without swearing!

Martin: Okay, it’s f*ing green!


You can’t speak about Zlin without saying the magic word: Bata. Please tell me, what is your personal relationship with shoes?

Martin: I have a really dark secret… I wear them every day!


The same pair every day?

Simon: Yes, since the day he was born.

Martin: No, I try to rotate. 

Ursula: I’m not the kind of girl that has a lot of shoes. But the ones I’m wearing today are very nice; I bought them in Scotland.

Simon: What is ‘a lot of shoes’? What number is required? I have probably 10. Is that a lot?

Ursula: I think that’s quite normal.

Simon: You see? I have a normal relationship with shoes. Different than with many other things in life. 


Zlin for many years had a tradition of putting one country in focus. Which country would you recommend? 

Ursula: Japan. They have a nice production for adults but also for children. 

Simon: Nigeria. African countries are in general underrepresented in film festivals, so every African country would be fine. But Nigeria is so huge, and I’m sure some great films will be produced in Nollywood.


Which was your favourite animal this week in the student films you’ve been watching?

Martin: A grey shrimp. 

Simon: There were a lot of fishes and transhuman/fish personalities.


Then which animals should we see more often on screen?

Martin: More cats would be appreciated.

Simon: I miss giraffes. 


I’m touched by the tragic tone in which you’re saying that. 

Simon: I do miss them. We should have more giraffes in our lives.


Pick one director whom you think should make/have made a children’s film at least once in his/her career.

Martin: Tarantino, definitely. And Takashi Miike. They’re the top.

Simon: Pasolini, that would be something else.

Ursula: Hitchcock.


You were working with student films. Which director could have been a great mentor for students?

Ursula: Being a capable mentor or not has to do with your personality.

Martin: Simon had Jan Nemec as a mentor, and that paid off well.

Simon: Kurasawa was a great mentor. He was very harsh for his students but taught them valuable lessons. What about Dutch director Alex Van Warmerdam? Would he have been a good teacher?

Ursula: I think so.


From the selection you’ve been watching, what did you pick up about film students today? Who are they and what drives them?

Simon: Antidepressants.

Ursula: There were a lot of dark, depressing movies out there. I would advise them to have more fun, and then make fun films. 

Martin: That’s when the giraffes come in…

Simon: That’s true. Giraffes are fun. So next year: more giraffes, more fun, and less people beating up each other.


That was the main topic?

Martin: Toxic masculinity, violence, anxiety,... 

Simon: Killing animals, killing zombies, killing a lot of fishes, and sometimes the fishes then killed someone else.

Ursula: Even one dog got killed.


What qualities could the other jury members have as mentors?

Martin: Simon is very open, talkative, ready to discuss everything into the nitty gritty details, no holds barred, true hardcore, all cards on the table. And he is also teaching at the television institute in Brno.

Simon: You should be my personal manager. You know your way with words. Ursula is a great mentor, because yesterday she already sent the instructions to her students on how to submit films to festivals, which is a valuable lesson for everyone.

Martin: This week she was consulting two students on their work. She’s ready to roll!.


Which mature character from last week’s films would you like to get to know better and maybe even ask out on a date? 

Martin: That’s a very personal question. Can we say ‘fishes’? I wouldn’t mind.


As long as they’re mature.

Ursula: I would like to meet the lady from the Korean movie. She was a very uptight mother, but at one point she turned funny.

Simon: I was wondering if I should go on a date with this aggressive, violent Hungarian guy. But then this psychotherapist session started in my head about my relationship towards men, and I got so deep that I was like ‘uhm, I need a coffee’, and I started questioning our existence, and then I called my mum. 


Now I’m extra curious to hear if you could pick from the entire film history a role that you would like to have played as an actor. 

Martin: I’m totally tempted to answer Flash Gordon. 

Simon: From the Pasolini oeuvre I could play a guy who died from overeating. Or the giraffe in MAGASCAR 2. 

Ursula: As a kid I really liked SINGING IN THE RAIN, because they were… euh… singing in the rain! So I’d prefer to be one of the women in that film.

Simon: If you could play the rain, you would be in the film all the time.


Which topics would you like to see addressed in young audience films in the future?

Simon: I would tell kids that they shouldn’t necessarily listen to their parents all the time. Sometimes it could be good to realise that parents can be bad people, teaching you horrible things. And so do teachers. Don’t believe anyone!

Ursula: Maybe they should more often listen to their heart.

Martin: I would like to see a film being made about bitcoins and crypto currencies.


Can you imagine yourself having a parallel career, outside the world of cinema?

Simon: I’m into gardening. 

Martin: I’d like to work for NASA. 

Ursula: Something with water. With the ocean, nature,... 

Simon: Like a coral reef researcher?

Ursula: Preferably above the water.

Martin: A kite surfer!

Simon: A water surface engineer.


Imagine yourself as a festival programmer with a 100% carte blanche and no budgetary limitations. What would your festival look like?

Martin: CPH:DOX offers a combination of multimedia and cinema, with XR, VR, AR and live performances. That combination of theatre, cinema and performances would be my goal. Using new technologies in the art of storytelling would lead to a very complete audiovisual experience.

Simon: In my festival everybody should get paid well, including the staff, the filmmakers, everyone. Many people are largely underpaid in festivals, sometimes screening fees are not getting paid and crews don’t get invited. That’s so odd! I would invite everyone and pay them decently.

Martin: The ultimate utopia… people getting paid! On second thought I can have a festival and which everybody is naked. 

Simon: And they’re paid for that too! We call that a porn festival.

Martin: I prefer to call it an exhibisionist festival. 

Simon: With giraffes!


Which was the last film that you saw that made you laugh or cry out loud?

Simon: I laughed last time with a Korean comedy in our selection. 

Ursula: Me too; the title was FAMILY TOAST. 


When did the audience surprise you with their cleverness? 

Ursula: In the student jury you don’t get to see much children’s films. But according to my festival experience, kids ask the strangest questions that adults wouldn’t dare to ask. 

Me: Which is something we would definitely never do! Thank you all for your remarkable presence! 


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