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SLOVAKIA

Marka Staviarska • Producer of Loli Paradička

“We managed to complete the film on such a low budget because it was mostly a family affair”

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- Cineuropa talked to Marka Staviarska, the Slovakian producer of the low-budget dramedy Loli Paradička, about how it became a surprise domestic box-office hit

Marka Staviarska  • Producer of Loli Paradička

The low-budget Slovakian film Loli Paradička [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Marka Staviarska
film profile
]
turned out to be the surprise smash hit of the 2019 season in domestic theatres, despite some stiff competition (see the news). Cineuropa sat down with the feature’s producer, Marka Staviarska, to learn more about the film’s journey and its creation. She is the daughter of Víťo Staviarsky and the sister of Richard Staviarsky, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie.

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Cineuropa: Your low-budget, rather local dramedy Loli Paradička made it into the top three of the most-visited domestic films, alongside more commercial fare. Were you expecting this kind of success?
Marka Staviarska:
No. To be honest, we really did not expect such a huge success. When my brother Richard and I were studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, Slovakian films were able to draw 2,000-3,000 attendees to the cinemas. Our film was seen by 2,000 and 3,000 viewers, respectively, on two occasions and in two different venues – and by 123,000 people in total. It’s a miracle!

What do you think contributed to the film’s success?
Comedy as a genre is attractive to the audience. Besides, the last local film that saw success like this, an Eastern Slovakian movie, was shot 30 years ago. First of all, we wanted to shoot a nice feature. Loli Paradička originated in the tragicomic poetics of my father Víťo’s Eastern Slovakian books and his original scripts from the 1990s. Our film is a bit different from the current batch of Slovakian cinema, and at the same time, it still stems from classic Slovakian cinema. In the last few years, Slovakian viewers have noticed that many more, and different, movies are being shot here. We were lucky that we were able to ride this wave of positivity. The most important moment was the film’s premiere at Art Film Fest. Loli Paradička was hugely successful there, and the initial reviews were great. That was motivating for the audience.

Can you elaborate on the production background? The total budget was reported to be €175,000.
The majority of the budget came from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. Ultimately, the fund supported us across all phases. The most crucial aspect was the well-written script, which the fund thought was a strong point. As complete debutants in feature-filmmaking, scriptwriting, directing and producing, it was not easy to find the finances together. We had to prove to the fund that we would be capable of shooting a film by presenting an excerpt. In the post-production phase, Radio and Television Slovakia boarded the project. We managed to complete the film on such a low budget because it was mostly a family affair.

What do you mean when you say it was a family affair?
Thirty-five years ago, my father dropped out of FAMU and left Prague because I was born. His script should have been shot after he left Prague – Martin Hollý was supposed to shoot Šľepa laska [Blind Love], but then the 1990s arrived, and the situation in Slovakian cinema became complicated. When my father wanted to provide for his family, he had to change tack. He tried a variety of jobs, and eventually we became a fairground family, selling novelty items and toys at fairs. When the season was over in winter, our father wrote books. He discouraged us from attending arts school; he did not want us to worry. But we didn’t listen. My father and my brother Richard wrote the script and co-directed the film. They also composed the music together. The youngest brother, Juraj, edited the film with Richard and helped me with production duties. My husband worked as a set designer and art producer. And finally, my mother took care of the catering, and I carried out the producing tasks.

Was it clear from the beginning that Loli Paradička was going to be your feature debut? Your brother shot a student film, Andy’s Wife, based on your father’s short story.
Richard and I always made films together at school. Andy’s Wife was our graduate film. After we finished school, we started developing a film based on our father and Richard’s script, Rinaldo Drom, which is today a novel called Rinaldo’s Journey, and it was supposed to be our feature debut. However, it would have needed a much bigger budget. We saw that we needed to make a less demanding project, budget-wise, and that’s why Richard and our father began to write a script called Veronka in 2014, which then became Loli Paradička. In 2016, we shot a six-minute reel and started shooting the film in 2017. In 2018, we finished the scenes that we could not complete in 2017, since we shot at real fairs and we had to wait for the next season to be able to redo certain sequences or shoot additional footage that might have been missing. We were also working on post-production at that time. The movie was finally finished in December 2018.

Loli Paradička has a strong local feel. Did it travel much abroad?
It was screened at several festivals – for example, in Sydney, Perth and Budapest – but audiences in New York and various embassies have also had a chance to see it. It will have its Czech premiere on 22 March at the Febiofest festival and will also get an airing at Finále Plzeň.

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