FAMU’s animated movie grabs student Oscar

'Daughter', photo: archive of FAMU

Daughter, a Czech short animated film by Daria Kashcheeva, has won the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ student Oscar for best animated film from international schools. After Jan Svěrák and Marie Dvořáková, she is only the third FAMU student to win the award.

Alexandra Hroncová is in charge of distributing student films made at Prague’s Film and TV Academy of Performing Arts FAMU. As such she is often on the phone and receives many calls. However, the one she received on Wednesday evening was quite a shock.

“I called back and I reached the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts and Sciences. I was like: wow! I was expecting them to say that they called because we hadn’t won, but they did not say anything. I gave them the number for Daria and for two hours we were all waiting for any call from Daria, very nervous. Then she called and told us she won.”

The winning film is a 15-minute long animated puppet movie called “Daughter”. The director, who was awarded the prize, is 33-year-old Daria Kashcheeva, a Russian student currently studying at FAMU film school in Prague.

'Daughter',  photo: archive of FAMU
“My film is about the relationship between a father and his daughter. However, I feel it is also about relationships between people who are close in general. How one small misunderstanding can influence such relationships for a long time and why it is important to be able to forgive those who are close to us.”

The film has been touring festivals already for some months and is a big hit not just in Hollywood. It has also received awards for best student film in the prestigious animation film festival at Annecy, as well as the prize for the best short animated film at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Ms. Kashcheeva says that one of the reasons why critics are so fond of it, is its original use of the camera.

“It was hand held camera movement and the inspiration came from how it is used in live-action and documentary movies. I used it to create this documentary feeling, because I wanted to draw viewers deeper into the story. I did this manually rather than in post-production I made the camera movements during animation.”

While the school has educated renowned directors such as Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzl, it is only the third time that a FAMU student has won the student Oscar.

FAMU’s Department of Animated Film, where Ms. Kashcheeva studied, is very selective, taking in only five students per year.

Daria Kashcheeva,  photo: archive of FAMU
However, she got in despite having no experience with making animated films and quickly caught up thanks to what she says is the schools intense system of lessons and exercises.

It was there that she also found the necessary materials and production spaces to make the film. A fresh bachelor, she sat her entry exams into FAMUs Master’s degree on Friday and already knows what movie she wants to do next.

“It will be a combination of puppet animation, live action and pixilation. I am going to experiment a bit more with various techniques. I certainly don’t want to use hand held camera movement again though. I want to find something new.”

For now, she will also have to think about preparing for the award-giving gala ceremony in Los Angeles, which will take place on October 17.