Alois Nebel, the first Czech film that was produced with the rotoscoping technique – a process that renders images shot with actors in a unique black-and-white cartoon style – will be premiering at the prestigious International Film Festival in Venice this weekend. The movie, based on a cartoon novel by Jaroslav Rudiš that has garnered a cult following, is highly anticipated by Czech cinema lovers. Ahead of its premiere abroad, I caught up with Alois Nebel producer Pavel Strnad and asked him about the special technique it was made with, the film’s director and what category the movie will be shown in at the festival.
The film is based on a cult cartoon novel. Can you briefly sum up its story?
“It is set in 1989 and centers on a 50-year-old train dispatcher who is haunted by nightmares, hallucinations, ghosts and shadows from the dark past of the region near the Polish border. Those bring him to the point where he has to go to hospital to get treatment, and so we follow his journey to become normal, in a way.”
“We shot the whole film on location and in the studio with actors and then the footage was traced and animated. So in the end, we got a black-and-white animation of the actors.”
The movie is the debut of director Tomáš Luňák. How did his involvement with the project come about?
“When we decided to adapt the comic to film, I was looking for a director with experience in both animation and live action. Tomáš was recommended to me by the author of the book, who also sings in a rock band and had worked with Tomáš on a music video. And he thought he’d be the right director for this film. So even though he was a first-time director and it was a big challenge for him, I think he did a great job, because it was extremely difficult and the production took over three years, but the result is extraordinary.
“It goes to Toronto right after Venice, and then I believe that it will be shown at other festivals around the world. We also hope that it will get distributed internationally. We have a very good distributor, Match Factory, the company that distributed Waltz with Bashir, they have a great reputation and I believe they will do a great job.”
“The Czech release is planned for September 29th, so people here in the Czech Republic unfortunately will have to wait a few more weeks to see the film.”
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