“Each film is different and needs to be approached individually”
Industry Report: Documentary
Silvia Panáková • Producer, ARINA Film Production
The 2022 Emerging Producer from Slovakia talks about how she selects the documentaries to produce and the projects she has underway
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Silvia Panáková: Yes, the documentaries that can point out problems that are happening around us. After a particular film is shown, it may be followed by a discussion, which usually triggers negative or positive reactions to its topic. Of course, it is always about the form in which the documentary is captured, what we want to achieve with it, what to point out, and so on. I try to select documentaries that I myself understand. They have something to do with my own experience or the problem I am facing and I can take a stand on.
The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
The pandemic has changed lives of documentaries. It has opened more space for online broadcast on various platforms. Our latest film, The Invisible, about post-partum trauma, was concerned with mothers, pregnant women, and also women who suffer from anxiety or fear of childbirth, and certainly with relationships that are affected by this trauma. At the beginning, we were very afraid to go online with the film, because we had had no experience with it. However, as it turned out, our target group does not go to the cinema, not only for time reasons, and the online space has allowed them to watch the film at any time. Of course, this may not be the case with every film. Each film is different and needs to be approached individually.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
I think that in the past two years of the pandemic, people got used to the online space. They watch movies on smartphones, tablets or laptops. The cinema distribution of documentaries in Slovakia had been very poor even before the pandemic. With documentaries it’s impossible to compete with large foreign productions. Paradoxically, the pandemic helped Slovak documentaries to make themselves visible abroad through online space. The documentaries have found their place in the public television RTVS, where they have a good audience. The television organizes various discussion programmes on individual topics related to documentaries, thus supporting domestic documentary production.
What projects do you have underway?
Currently I have been working on several movies in various stages of development. Due to the pandemic and the related closure of cinemas in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I have two documentaries prepared for the premiere, namely Michael Kocáb (Czech Republic/Slovakia) and Identity (Spain/Czech Republic/Slovakia/Canada) and two feature co-production films Piargy (Slovakia/Czech Republic/North Macedonia) and Absence (Iran/Czech Republic/Slovakia). Two documentaries, director Eva Križková’s debut Bird Hill (Slovakia/Czech Republic) and Hranice Vernosti (Slovakia), directed by Diana Fabiánová, are in the filming phase. The other two feature co-production films Snake Gas by director David Jařab (Czech Republic/Slovakia) and I Don't Like You Anymore (Czech Republic/Slovakia/Romania), directed by Zdeněk Jirásky are just about to be filmed. I have also been collaborating on two animated co-production films Diplodocus (Poland/Czech Republic/Slovakia) and Fichtelberg (Czech Republic/Slovakia) on a long-term basis.
EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.
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