by Jason Whyte
Protector - At VIFF 2010
“A story of a couple’s fateful realtionship. Against the backdrop of war, they live out their own personal drama. A story of real feelings, of love which, in extreme times, can be pushed to the brink of self-destruction and nevetheless maintain its strength and hope. A risky game about career, feelings, human dignity and, in the end, about life in the dark days of the Protectorate.“ Director Marek Najbrt on the film Protektor which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.
Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?
“Protektor” is my second feature film and this is the first time I’m participating at VIFF with my film. “Protektor” and my first feature film “Champions” participated on many other festivals and the films were also awarded on some of them. Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate at VIFF personally, because I will be directing a TV series for HBO.
Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?
Five years ago, me and my friends, the co-writers of the script Benjamin Tucek and Robert Geisler, found out that we are for some reasons fascinated by the times of protectorate and we felt the need to express ourselves on this topic. Further discussion led us to the story based on two basic motives. We were excited that one of them can be the radio show background and the second one the conflict with the bicycle, that could but didn’t have to be connected with the asassination of Rainhard Heydrich.
Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …” Finish this sentence, please!
In my early childhood I wanted to be archeologist or pilot and since I was 12 years old and I started to shoot on 8mm film camera, I wanted to become a film director.
How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.
Our film was developing for five years and due to the fact that it is “auteur film”, I was involved from the beginning until the end. During this time, we went through all possible phases of development. Many times, it looked like the film will not be made at all, but in the end everything turned out well.
What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production? What was your favourite moment of the process?
The biggest challenge and pleasure for me is the possibility to create new, reality independent time-space of the film story and to express my opinion on the life around me through it.
Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.
We wanted to create story from the past, that would appear to the spectators authentically and modern. Therefore, we omitted all pompous and spectacular practices and we concentrated on portraying the claustrophobic, dark atmosphere, characteristic for occupied Prague.
Talk a bit about the experiences that you have had with the film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?
There were many questions in many countries and some of them were even interesting. However, I’m not a fan of discussions and by my opinion, after the film is finished it should live its own life, independently from its creators and their interpretations.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?
For me inspiration is everything and nothing. Each film, that I watch, leaves in me some “watermark” and each of them makes my desire to create my own independent style stronger. In the case of “Protektor”, I can name two Czech war films that influenced me and these are: “And the Fifth Horseman is Fear” by Zbynek Brynych and “Distant Journey” by Alfred Radok.
If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?
Definitely a pilot.
Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.
I never thought this way. The story and the theme are in the first place, just after I have a good one I begin to think with whom and how should I create the film. I like to work with people that are on the same wave as me and I am not that interested if they are respected or totally unknown.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
I am not very sure, because from my own experience I learned, at least here in Czech Republic, that good film critics don’t necessarily mean big box office success and vice versa. Media response is definitely helpful for the film’s promotion. Each film needs the media attention, even commercial or festival title. From my point of view, it would be optimal, if I could be left out from the media buzz. However, I realize that nowadays it is not possible.
If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?
I don’t have any dream theatre. I’m happy when they screen my film anywhere.
What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local megaplex?
I would prefer not to convince anyone. But if I would have to, I would put the cards on table and say that this film will not entertain him/her but can bring him/her strong emotional experience.
No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?
I would advise the aspiring filmmakers not to calculate, to look neither left nor right, and to fulfill one’s film aims with all possible, legal and proper means.
And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?
I am not able to answer this question, as there are hundreds of films of different genre, style and production date that I like.
This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to www.viff.org.
Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF ’10 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #viff10 is the official hashtag.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=3106
originally posted: 10/14/10 18:26:37