Cannes to honour Forman with Loves of a Blonde and new documentary

Miloš Forman, photo: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic, Wexner Center

The Cannes film festival, which begins next week, is set to pay tribute to the late Miloš Forman, screening a restored version of the late director’s 1965 classic Loves of a Blonde as well as presenting the world premiere of the new documentary Forman vs. Forman. I spoke to the head of the Czech Film Center, Marketa Šantrochová, about the country’s involvement in the 2019 Cannes – starting with the presentation of Loves of a Blonde.

Miloš Forman,  photo: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic,  Wexner Center
“I think it of course means a lot, because first of all Miloš Forman is probably the most famous director of Czech origin ever.

“But also I think this film is very special. Like Black Peter, it still has a very strong impact even today.

“On the professional side, it’s the third time that we have a film in Cannes Classics. And in between we also had one in Venice, in the restored versions section.

“So it’s the third time we come back with these heritage treasures that we have to Cannes, which is probably the biggest festival in the world.

“It’s a big honour to be part of this selection.”

The festival is also presenting the world premiere of the documentary Forman vs. Forman by Helena Třeštíková and Jakub Hejna. What can you tell us about that film?

“As the title says, it’s basically a film about Forman. It follows him through his career but also his personal life.

“It works very nicely with archival materials.

“It’s a very nice film about this specific filmmaker and person with quite an interesting destiny, I would say, with a career back in Czechoslovakia in the ‘60s but also quite a successful career in the US.”

Do you know if the makers started it before or after he died?

'One Hundred and Twenty-eight Thousand',  photo: archive of Ondřej Erban
“I’m not completely sure about it, but I think that it was in a way connected to the fact that he passed away.

“There might have been some research done even before.

“But the impulse to make the film, and to do it now, was unfortunately the fact that Miloš Forman died.”

This won’t be the only Czech presence in Cannes. You also have, for instance, Ondřej Erban’s short One Hundred and Twenty-eight Thousand, which is in the Cinefondation section for emerging film makers. What does it mean for Czech film for its young talents to be able to screen their works in this section?

“Again, it is of course a big honour.

“And I think it’s a big impulse for the filmmaker to follow.

“Because Cinefondation is a section for student films, but in a way it’s also a possibility to put your foot in the door [laughs].

“We had already several films in this selection. Actually Czech films are selected for this section quite successfully and regularly.

'Solo',  photo: Petit à Petit Production
“And there is one thing – if you win this section, your first film will be screened in Cannes, which is of course something.

“I think all filmmakers and producers in a way more or less dream about succeeding in this competition.”

There’s also another Czech film in Cannes, the documentary Solo by Artemio Benki. What is Solo?

“It’s a very nice essay film, I would say, about a composer and piano virtuoso who lives in Argentina.

“The filmmaker Artemio followed him for some time. In the film he is recovering from a breakdown in a psychiatric hospital.

“But he’s also overcoming these psychiatric problems by writing a new composition.”