Charlotte Vacková

Charlotte is a film director from Prague with a lot of experience abroad, including in the USA, UK, and Ireland. She earned her BA in Fine Art Experimental Media in 2015 and went on to study film directing for her MA in Edinburgh. Charlotte began her journey in audio-visual media in 2012. Her first short film, "Loss," received several awards at film festivals. She followed this with "Liquid Soul," an experimental horror film that made it to the Cannes Film Festival. Her latest short film, "Forbidden," has been very successful on the festival circuit, winning numerous awards. Charlotte continues to make short films, music videos, fashion films, and commercials. She also works as a freelance videographer and content creator at her studio in Prague, named Chapelier.
Your project has entered our festival. What is your project about?
"Forbidden" is a coming-of-age short surrealist drama about a young schoolgirl living in a pure, ideal world governed by strict rules. It explores her temptation to experience a forbidden kiss and the subsequent consequences of her actions. This narrative delves into the conflict between order and passion, highlighting the challenges and transformative experiences of adolescence.

What are your ambitions with your project?
My ambition with 'Forbidden' is not only to reach a wide audience but also to engage them in deep reflection. Its success at various festivals is thrilling, allowing me to showcase my unique directorial style and the fantastic screenplay by Enni Red. This film serves as both a representation of my artistic expression and a platform for provoking thoughtful dialogue.
Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
The filming process was enriching as it marked my first time overseeing a project as director, editor, and producer. Despite a limited budget, the enthusiastic support from talented Czech filmmakers was a wonderful surprise. This collaborative spirit was crucial for the production of 'Forbidden'. Working with the actors and experimenting with CGI were highlights of this project, alongside the challenge of adapting a screenplay intended for Scottish settings to the Czech landscape.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Our film is targeted at young adults and adults who enjoy deep, thought-provoking themes and appreciate a surrealistic approach that offers multiple interpretations. This makes it suitable for viewers who like to delve into the potential meanings behind cinematic elements, typically found in film festivals and art house settings.

Why should distributors buy your film?
Distributors should consider 'Forbidden' for its unique, visually striking presentation with minimal dialogue, which sets it apart from mainstream offerings. Its distinctive style and engaging narrative appeal to a broad audience, making it ideal for film festivals and art house theaters looking for innovative, thought-provoking content.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
'Forbidden' showcases a commitment to a surreal narrative paired with a distinctive visual style that often aims to shock and provoke. The use of central compositions and minimalist set designs in pastel colors enhances the film's dreamlike quality, while my penchant for using unconventional visual imagery and references intensifies the emotional impact. This bold visual strategy not only sets the tone but also deeply influences how the narrative is perceived and interpreted by the audience, making 'Forbidden' a deeply personal and provocative experience.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I decided to become a filmmaker because I have a passion for creating something special from nothing. I love telling stories visually, using images and sequences to convey emotions and narratives that resonate with audiences.

Who is your role model?
As a filmmaker who often portrays strong female characters, I am inspired by my fellow female creators who embrace creativity and innovation in their work. Celia Rowlson-Hall is a prime example; her unique approach to storytelling and her ability to convey profound emotional and social themes through dance and movement has significantly influenced my own directorial style. I admire how she harnesses the visual medium to tell stories that resonate with audiences on a visceral level, which is something I strive to emulate in my own films.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
I gravitate towards films with which I can personally resonate, especially those that tell strong human stories. My preferred genre is drama, but I also enjoy road movies and appreciate clever comedies, though I find truly smart comedic films are all too rare. Among my favorite directors is Quentin Tarantino, whose aesthetic and masterful dialogue work I admire. I also have great appreciation for Xavier Dolan's unique visual elements, which I often reference in my own films. Additionally, directors like Lars von Trier, Ti West, and Damien Chazelle captivate me with their distinctive and impactful filmmaking styles.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
My inspiration for filmmaking is drawn from a diverse range of visual mediums, including other films, art installations, and music videos. These sources provide a rich tapestry of visual ideas that I love to explore and incorporate into my own work. Thematically, I find a deep well of inspiration in poetry. The emotive power and lyrical subtlety of poetry challenge me to infuse my films with similar depth and nuance, enabling me to tell stories that resonate on multiple emotional and intellectual levels.

Which topics interest you the most?
I am drawn to exploring themes centered around women's issues, capturing the inner experiences and struggles of my characters. Child abductions and injustices inflicted upon children are also subjects I find compelling, as they evoke strong emotional responses and challenge the audience to confront uncomfortable truths. Additionally, I frequently explore concepts of punishment and guilt within my narratives, often employing a time loop as a narrative device to enhance the psychological depth and complexity of the story. These themes allow me to delve into the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by my characters, offering viewers a chance to reflect on these profound issues.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
One of my greatest achievements is simply being able to make a living from filmmaking. I find immense joy not only in creating films but also in teaching the art of filmmaking. For over five years, I've had the privilege of passing on my passion for this craft to others, which is incredibly rewarding. From a more tangible standpoint, a standout achievement would be the selection of my short film "Liquid Soul" for screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

What do you consider most important about filming?
To me, the most important aspect of filming is the opportunity it provides to tell stories that need to be heard, visually. It's about translating emotions and narratives into a visual format that can deeply connect with an audience, transcending language and cultural barriers. This process not only allows me to express my own artistic vision but also to raise awareness and evoke empathy for the stories that might otherwise remain untold or overlooked.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
In my filmmaking, I prioritize techniques that elevate the visual storytelling, as I believe every frame should stand alone as a compelling image. Therefore, I consider the careful composition of each shot to be the most effective technique. This involves not just framing a scene but meticulously planning the lighting, color palette, and placement of elements within the frame to ensure that each shot could be a standalone photograph. This approach minimizes the need for dialogue, allowing the visuals to speak powerfully and directly to the audience, conveying emotions and advancing the narrative through imagery.
How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
I am very enthusiastic about contemporary filmmaking, particularly the vibrant indie film scene that often embraces shock value and unconventional visual imagery. It's thrilling to see how new filmmakers not only blend references to classic cinema with modern themes and technologies but also dare to disrupt norms and provoke thought. This fusion of traditional and revolutionary elements brings fresh perspectives to the screen. I am particularly impressed by the productions from A24, a studio known for its daring and artistically ambitious projects, which align with my love for creating bold, unexpected visual narratives.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
I'm often disappointed by films that rely too heavily on clichés and have weak endings. Authenticity is crucial for me, so melodramatic dialogue or characters that feel undeveloped can really pull me out of the experience. I also find it disappointing when a movie lacks a compelling storyline or fails to engage the audience emotionally.

Who supports you in your film career?
I am incredibly fortunate to have the unwavering support of my closest family and friends in my film career. My parents, my partner, and my best friends not only provide emotional support, but they are also actively involved in my projects. For example, during the production of "Forbidden," they were all present on set, helping in various capacities. Their presence and assistance not only bring joy to the process but also deepen the personal significance of each project.

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