Czech student film triumphant at Cannes

Zuzana Špidlová, photo: CTK

The 62nd annual Cannes film festival has come to a close and things couldn’t have gone better for Czech filmmakers. First, young filmmaker Zuzana Špidlová’s 21-minute short feature Bába was voted best film in the Cinefondation section, recognising young new talent; and the seasoned Czech documentary filmmaker Helena Třeštíková clinched the Media European Talent award.

Young director Zuzana Špidlová said she was shocked but also very happy when she heard the news: that her 2008 film Baba had won the best prize for best student short-feature in the Cinefondation section at Cannes. What is the film, which was also awarded best production last year at the FAMU student film festival in Prague, about? A young woman forced to care for her dying grandmother. The film’s main caption offers more: “Mom never asked me, she just brought granny home. Now she lies in the middle of my room and I have to take care of her. All the time.”.

Zuzana Špidlová,  photo: CTK
The director reportedly did extensive research at pensioners’ homes and facilities for the chronically ill before starting her project. Bába then won out over 16 other Cannes finalists, which had been short-listed from almost 1,500 student entries. Following her win, the young filmmaker spoke to Czech TV:

“Having seen the competition I value this award even more. Some of those films were really good. The best part is that I now know that my next film will also be screened at Cannes.”

Along with the recognition and the promised screening, the filmmaker received 15 thousand euros (around 20,000 US dollars) in prize money. She is aiming for her next film to be a French co-production.

Ms Špidlová’s triumph was not the only Czech success at Cannes this year: the highly-respected documentary filmmaker Helena Třeštíková, known for long-running documentaries in the style of Michael Apted’s Seven-Up series, was also recognised. She won an award called Media European Talent for her film Miracle, a project she first began in the 1970s.