"Night Owls" premieres at Karlovy Vary

Jiří Mádl, Michaela Pavlátová and Martha Issová, photo: CTK

Monday at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival saw the world premiere of ‘Night Owls’ – one of the two Czech films in this year’s competition. The movie was directed by Oscar-nominated animator, Michaela Pavlátová, and stars the young Czech talents Martha Issová and Jiří Mádl. In the run up to the big screening, Rosie Johnston caught up with Michaela Pavlátová on the terrace at the spa town’s Hotel Thermal.

Michaela Pavlátová,  Martha Issová and Jiří Mádl,  photo: Vílém Faltýnek
She started by asking the director what it meant to her to have made the festival’s official selection:

“To be nominated in the Karlovy Vary Film Festival competition, this is already the award for me. And when people ask me if I expect anything, I don’t, because it already came. I have really enjoyed the last two or three months following on from the announcement that we would be competing in Karlovy Vary, because I have spent them in a sort of cloud of happiness. And really, nothing can be better than those last three months.”

While you are in Karlovy Vary, are there a couple of films that you yourself want to go and see?

Jiří Mádl,  Michaela Pavlátová and Martha Issová,  photo: CTK
“This year, I don’t have much time, but I have seen Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind’. And I really like him because he has a similar background to myself. He has these animated elements in his films, and I must say that I admire him and how he keeps these elements of animation still in his films. Because I am trying to find a way to do this myself, but it is so difficult, because it is always some sort of stylization, and usually you must have a special kind of script to be able to include some kind of animation into a film. And in ‘Be Kind Rewind’ he did it, and what I like about it so much is that everything is homemade. That is how I work, not with computers. I like the simplicity and invention of his films.”

You’re premiering your film tonight, how do you feel about it? Nervous? Or are you really looking forward to it?

Michaela Pavlátová with Martha Issová,  photo: CTK
“I feel both. I feel very excited, very nervous. I feel like I might fail, or maybe not. And on the other hand, I really love the sound of dozens of cameras, because it brings you the feeling that your film is important, and that you are at a big, important film festival. It’s a nice feeling for the whole crew to be standing there when there are so many photographers, and for one minute, you feel like a star.”

You have been involved in film now for so many years, first in animation, then documentary, then feature film. And this is far from your first trip to Karlovy Vary. How are you enjoying and experiencing it this year, and how does it compare to past festival experiences?

“I think that it is always easier to come without a film, and just be in the audience and enjoy the films. But this year is very special – I think that I will never forget this, this year. And I think that the next year when I come to be part of the normal audience I will enjoy it much more. But it is nice to be, for a couple of days, the centre of attention.”