We have got used to overlaps of animated and documentary films in international context. The first pioneer of this genre in contemporary Slovak cinema was Juraj Lehotský’s film, Blind Loves (2008). His film about a visually impaired couple brought together senior professionals and animation department graduates from the Academy of Performing Arts (e.g. Štefan Martauz, Joanna Kozuch, Michal Struss…). Vladislava Plančíková’s film Felvidék: Caught in Between is closer to being an authorial animated film (or animated document) because, unlike Lehotský, she created the animated parts of the film herself. Plančíková, a Documentary film Department graduate, attended art classes as an Elementary School pupil, but only began to animate after she started working on her debut that required her personal involvement.
The film Felvidék: Caught in Between deals with the issue of Slovak-Hungarian relations in the mixed territories of Slovakia and Hungary, where Slovaks and Hungarians live together. The result of ethnic mixture, influenced by several historical events, has a major impact on people’s perception of their identity. In her film, Plančíková focuses mainly on identity in the context of difficult population resettlement after World War II. Following a political decision of the Czechoslovak government some Hungarians (as a defeated nation) were evicted from Slovakia and Slovaks that had until then lived in Hungary replaced them. This step caused family bonds, friendships and neighbourhoods to break. Vladislava comes from such a mixed background and the question of identity inherently concerns her. The basic storyline of the film speaks of fulfilment of a promise. Vladislava finds out from her grandmother that her great-grandmother had wished to have a handful of earth from her motherland brought to her grave. The director decides to fulfil her great-grandmother’s wish and travels to Hungary…
The film showcases several traditional animation techniques (puppet animation, object animation, cut-cut animation, motion captured on a sequence of images) and also documentary procedures (official and private archival footage, authentic diary entries, oral history – “talking heads“, handheld camera, photographic material).
In an interview for the magazine about animated film called Homo Felix, Vladislava explains her use of animation in the document as follows: „I knew which animation techniques I wanted to use and what I wanted to achieve with them: to revive the past in a finer form, retaining sufficient emotional charge. My viewers perceive animation differently, it is something from their childhood heritage and they associate it with fairy tales and imaginativeness. During pitching on Archidoc I realized that animation used in feature films revives the child inside the adults. For example, if I had chosen not to use reconstructions of the situations or had used only a verbal approach, it wouldn’t have been possible to depict my elementary school memories in film. It would also have been impossible to reconstruct the memories of old people. The film deals with a troubling and sensitive topic, and I cannot imagine being forced to manipulate the old people into awkward situations, because of their age and possible emotional response. I also feel that reconstruction makes a less credible impression and I do not wish to trigger false emotions. Since I wanted to revive history, I focused on animation of real objects, earth , clay, embroidery, photos, I just conjured up the past, I maintained a certain playfulness, but without excessive ornamental quality and naïveté. I did not want my animation to be too perfect, I wanted to convey a part of myself and my perspective with it. I got great help from Tereza Mikulášová, Andrej Gregorčok and Iva Šebestová. Unlike the documentary filmmakers, they were curious about the connection between these two film-making processes and enjoyed the work. „Tereza Mikulášová was originally an editor. Later she moved on to animation, which she is studying in Canada at the moment. Andrej Gregorčok and Ivana Šebestová are Bratislava Animation Department graduates and provided Plančíková with their professional experience with animation.
The film Felvidék: Caught in Between is currently screened in film clubs across the country and will be brought to viewers in mixed territories in the form of a mobile cinema. FestAnca visitors will also get a chance to see this film on screen! You are very welcome!
More info at:
Eva Šošková (22.4.2014)