„Shhh-shhh”, whispers the math teacher to his student Lena as he assaults her, destroying the world of a normal teenager and setting up consequences too horrific to talk about in Tereza Nvotova’s film Filthy (2017), that screens in the 52nd Karlovy Vary film festival. The film is using this realistic and detailed disruption to tackle the painful subject and convey a clear message. We had a chance to look behind the scenes and talk to Peter Badač, the producer of Filthy, who had to do a lot to take these shushed subjects to the screen.
What attracted you to working on Špina?
Peter Badač: The director Tereza Nvotova was my classmate and approached me with screenwriter Barbora Namerova. I read the first draft of the script and in spite of it being a very feminine film, I really liked it. Especially the energy Tereza and Barbora were talking about it with. They conducted a big research on the topic and had a clear vision from the beginning. They had a message they wanted to relay and I think they succeeded.
Filthy carries a strong social commentary about local health system and sexual assaults. How big of a taboo topic is rape in Slovakia?
PB: That was actually one of messages of the film. Commenting on the quality of Slovakia’s health system, the practice of reporting sexual assaults and how the victims are stigmatized by state offices and the society.
Some things have changed since we started working on the film in 2014. There is this big campaign by Ministry of Social Affairs now, that aims to educate people about sexual assault and instructs what to do when you or somebody close to you has that type of experience. On the other hand, there are things that haven’t changed at all, because the topic is much more complicated than that.
What kind of discussions and reactions has the film provoked?
PB: When the film was released in Slovakia, many people were talking about the rape scene and how realistic it was. According to statistics and our research, 90% of all rapes happen like this – in a place we know, by a person we know. Many people have a certain vision of how it should look like. Unfortunately, the film industry is helping to spread all the clichés about this delicate problem.
The other big discussion is about the health care system and the character of the therapist. Certainly, not all of them are like the one in the film, but our film is not a generalization. It’s a specific story of a young girl, that was raped and has experiences with burnt-out therapist, who works long shifts for a low salary and isn’t unfortunately motivated to treat each patient individually. Actually,none of the many doctors who have seen our film, have complained about the scenes at mental hospitals being somehow unrealistic.
Most of the characters in the film are teenagers. You have young actors, plus actual juvenile mental care patients involved. Shed some light on the casting process, where did you find the kids?
PB: The main characters of Roza (Anna Rakovska) and Lena (Dominika Moravkova) we found via casting. Although the actresses are 23 and 27, they really look like 17 in the film. They also know each other well in real life, so it wasn’t difficult for them to play friends. We decided to look for non-actors to play the kids in the mental hospital, because I think it would have been impossible to find so many kids in age 13-16, who can play these scenes. We visited several orphanages and detention centres for young adults and did several castings there. We found some very good types. The advantage was that many of them have experience with the treatments in a mental hospital so they could exactly understand the director’s intent. They didn’t read the script, Tereza just explained them the situation they were in and told them to be as spontaneous as they want.
The theme of the film is serious and many scenes were extremely intense, loaded with deep emotion. What was the atmosphere like on the set?
PB: The story is very intense and sad, but the atmosphere on the set was extremely good. That was very important for actors, for their psycho-hygiene. The crew members were young people, so there was lots of fun and it was also a very nice experience for the kids to be a part of the shoot and escape the daily routine.
You said in an interview last year that Slovak film market is very small and there is little potential to it. Is the outlook still that poor?
PB: Actually, this year is enormously successful for Slovak cinema! There were some films released on prestigious festivals: Filthy in Rotterdam, A Little Harbour in Berlin, Out in Cannes. There were some box office hits like All or Nothing and The Kidnapping, that attracted around 300 000 admissions. Our film Filthy had more than 25 000 admissions in two weeks and that is a huge success for this type of film.
Nevertheless, the Slovak market is very small and without the support of Slovak Audiovisual fund and Slovak television there wouldn’t have been so many good films that attract the local audience and spread the word about Slovak films abroad.
Name: Nele Volbruck
Interview with Peter Badac
Producer of "Filthy" (CZ, SK)
KVIFF - Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2017 - Czech Films 2016-2017
C. Photo Credit: Filthy (2017)