Mini interview: Šimon Šafránek

“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.

He focuses mainly on film, music videos and cultural life. At MFF Bratislava 2018 he’s coming to personally introduce his feature debut about skateboarding in Czechoslovakia called King Skate.

 

 

The part of your artistic creation is literature, directing of music videos, film critic etc. In your movie King Skate, all of these activities are connected. How long did you make the movie?

 

It took approximately three years to make it. The last year, when we edited the movie and finalized it, was the most intense one.

 

 

You’re mapping 70s and 80s, the era of communism in Czechoslovakia. However, your point of view is not as depressing as it usually is in our country. On the contrary. You were born at the end of 70s, which means you offer the viewer something that you experienced yourself. How do you remember this time?

 

I was twelve when the communism collapsed, so I have only scrappy memories. I spent a lot of time in countryside and in nature. But I was never part of the children’s communist world, the parades, the collective excercise (spartakiáda).

From a narrative point of view, skateboarding at that time was something like an island of freedom: just the image of the western skateboards set in the socialist background is fascinating to me. Back then, it was a huge adventure, a kind of a rebellion – not as much against the system as against the parents, and it was also a huge fun. That’s what we were trying to show in the movie, to get you in the world of that crazy group and to bring a fresh spectacle. And to make you look at the real world.

 

 

How did you get to this group of skateboarders? I know you weren’t one of them. In the film, we don’t see your archive footage but those you’ve been able to collect from the individual members of this community. And there’s a lot of them.

 

The initial inspiration was the book by Martin Overstreet and Michal Nanor called We cut the boards for meat. The skateboarding story captivated me. And pictures, hundreds of archival authentic pictures. I thought there had to be some films about this topic as well and I was right. The process was quite organic – Kateřina Černá, the producer in Negativ that I had known, was a member of the skateboarders’ community, so I approached her. One of the skateboarders – cameramen, Vojta Kotek is a born archivist, therefore he immediately brought a drive with hours and hours of digital material. At the end, we managed to put together around thirty hours of archives, recorded by the skateboarders.

 

 

By the way, what about you and skateboard? Have you tried?

By the end of the 80s, I found the Czechoslovak board Esarol in our cottage. I was trying to stand on it, but I just wasn’t able to do it. I thought the problem was me, so I haven’t tried it since then. There was no skateboard community around me.

 

 

Has the encounter with these people affected your view of the world? How are the skateboarders from the movie today?

They are very nice people, they still meet, they organize different races like Old knees. I admire how they were all in, they weren’t afraid, on the contrary, they psyched up each other. And 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 skateboards. That’s the reason why their community is amazingly diverse and lively.

 

 

Do we nowadays have something like these skateboarders – young, extravagant, brave, open-minded people? Who could we compare them to?

 

I hope, we do. I believe it, for sure. But now I can’t think of any specific group of people. The thing is, it’s necessary to look around and listen to people and I was listening to these old folks on skateboards.

 

 

Music is an important part of the film – both world and Slovak artists. Could you tell us more about that?

 

I knew from the beginning, music would play an important role in the movie. Mainly because it can bring out a specific emotion very quickly but also because it is part of skateboarding. We based it on the music they had been listening, and on the music, typical for that time in Czechoslovakia. Skateboarding went hand in hand with punk, therefore Sex Pistols and The Clash or Plastic Bertrand were a must. At the same time, we wanted to make the structure varied. That’s why we picked DEVO or Killing Joke.

From the Czechoslovak music scene, we were interested in the new wave of Laco Lučenič and Meky Žbirka. We also picked some contemporary music bands whose sound had a similar character as these archival pieces. They needed to be congruent with that sentiment. Czech indie music scene worked out perfectly – Wild Tides, Kill the Dandies or Moimir Papalescu and The Nihilists. But of course, also the French electroclash band Pravda, whose tunes I played during my DJ parties with The Fakes or the Hungarian band Hangmás, who I made some music videos for.

It took us several months to put the music together.

 

And it was worth it. What you are fascinated by now? What can we look forward to?

 

I have time to write now, so I write. We’ll see what comes of it.

 

 

Thank you for the interview.

See you in the cinema!

 

 

 

Anna Kačincová Predmerská

 

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.

Made In CZ/SK is one of Bratislava IFF loadbearing sections. In connection with the recent one-hundredth anniversary of the formation of the First Czechoslovak Republic, the section reflects a continuous and successful filmmaking cooperation of the two neighbouring countries. This year’s selection will present several recent films, some of which also originated in Czech-Slovak co-production.