Mini interview: Daniel Rihák

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

Your father, Jaroslav Rihák, is also a multi-genre artist. As a director, he worked in theatre and radio, wrote and writes for television, shot fiction as well as documentary films. He is also active in literature (Story of Steamer Pentcho, 2015) and journalism (for example, he writes for Denník N daily). How did he affect you? Do you ever discuss your films with him?

Ever since childhood my father has been a great inspiration. I’ve always been impressed with his enthusiasm when talking about his projects and with what stubbornness he faces the many challenges in their realization. I am grateful I got to see how films are made already as a child, as well as for the artistic and inspirational environment I grew up in. I hope one day I can pay him back somehow.

 

 

And we, the audience, can look forward to a joint work of the Rihák directors J. Anyway, it is somewhat unusual that you cast professional actors for your student films (The Tie – Danica Jurčová and Róbert Jakab, your current festival film The Trip – Gabriela Marcinková and Marian Mitaš), rather than non-actors or drama students. Why?

I love actors. I admire them and constantly realize it is them who infuses the film with emotion and gives it a soul. In my opinion, acting talent is not a random, extrovert character feature. It is a focused and courageous work with one’s own soul, memories and imagination, and the result of a constant observation of human communication. Often actors’ remarks will stun the director or producer with their accuracy. The director must always be present in the moment, be there with them, inspire them, and give space and support. If that happens, there almost always comes something that goes beyond the original script or the director’s concept. These are magical moments!

 

 

The visitors of the Bratislava IFF 2018 can see The Trip in the collection of short student films. You shot this psychological thriller based on an eponymous short story by the Slovak writer Jozef Karika. For the last decade, he has been one of the most popular and best-selling domestic authors. He was also noticed by the director Peter Bebjak, who drew inspiration from his book The Crack and created a mysterious thriller, expected to hit the cinemas in January. This is obviously an inspiring writer whose work also attracts filmmakers. Why and what did he fascinate you with?

I have been following his novels for a long time, and I am convinced he is an exceptional talent in Slovak literature. His ability to engage and lead the reader’s attention is brilliant. He is incredibly good at describing situations and at the same time building up a narrative structure that doesn’t get boring even after hundreds of pages. On the contrary – it creates new, surprising expectations. We should be glad to have such a “global” talent who focuses on our local themes.

After completing my bachelor degree film, thriller First Surgery, I was looking for a new subject, and that was when Dado Nagy pointed out Karika’s latest short stories. I got to reading and immediately came across his story The Trip, which instantly triggered my imagination. I wrote to him and after a very pleasant and open communication, I was convinced that this is a good material for a graduation film. Jozef Karika is an ideal partner for any director, ranging from the quality of his work, through the freedom and flexibility he provides for the adaptation of his work to his pleasant, positive personal contact. It was a beautiful experience and I believe we will meet in the future.

 

 

Weren’t you tempted to ​​create a longer film? Or were you simply limited by your options (economic, technical, time)?

As I already knew the limits of a school film production, I planned my graduation film exactly like this: short and compact, where in a small space we give our view of modern genre film. For my next film I am definitely tempted by feature-length format. It’s something completely different from a short film, it requires a narrative that keeps the viewer’s attention for two hours of the film experience – just like the works of Jozef Karika. That is why the last years of studies led by prof. Ľudovít Labík I worked with analysing narrative structures and their integration into my work. I feel ready.

 

 

You sound determined. I’m already looking forward to seeing your feature debut at the next festival. Actually, how do you perceive film festivals? What do they bring people and why shouldn’t they ignore them?

Although I personally prefer commercial genre films, festivals enable young filmmakers at the beginning of their careers to present their short films and test the reaction of the audience. For the visitors, they bring a chance to discover something new – new voices of aspiring creators, new trends, a new film language.

 

 

If you’ve already seen the program of this year’s Bratislava IFF, could you share your tips on which films, besides yours, of course, they should definitely go see?

I must confess I’m not familiar with most of this year’s films or creators, so I’m going to be discovering and experimenting myself. I certainly want to see Putin’s Witnesses, which, I hope, will reveal the circumstances and context of the origin of the authoritarian regime, which again threatens us with its arrogant expansion. I’ll also watch Rafiki, as I am fascinated by Africa and the changes it is currently undergoing. And last but not least, I will definitely go to see At Eternity’s Gate, a new film by Julian Schnabel, the director of my favourite films Basquiat and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

 

Thank you for the interview.
See you in the cinema!

 

 

Anna Kačincová Predmerská

 

Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.

Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018

“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”

 

Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.

“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”

 

Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.

“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”

 

Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

“All women have the power to change things”

 

Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.

“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”

 

Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.

Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”

Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.

“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”

 

Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.

The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.

The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.