“To me, it’s pure joy,” says Czech filmmaker Filip Remunda (“Czech Dream,” “Steam on the River”) of shooting his latest project, “Love Exposed,” which he presented as part of the prestigious IDFA Forum this week. This is Remunda’s first time back at IDFA in 14 years. “Czech Dream,” his breakout film, was screened at the festival in 2008 as part of the Top 10 strand.
“We are observing other projects and it’s important to have feedback from different sources as it will help us edit the film,” says Remunda about the importance of bringing the project to Amsterdam.
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“The Forum was pioneering. They have broken the boundary between filmmakers, producers and commissioning agents. It wasn’t open before they started. It was like a Kafkaesque story where you don’t know who is ruling your life. The Forum has a very democratic principle because you can meet people, hear their feedback and learn about different possibilities, so the game is more open. You can be surprised with whom you can cooperate.”
Produced by Tereza Horská, of Remunda’s own production company, Hypermarket Film, “Love Exposed” follows Blanca, a longtime friend of the Czech director, as she confronts her artist father about their troubled relationship. “When we went through the coronavirus and were all locked in our homes, we understood that relationships are the most important thing in our lives,” Remunda says of the motivation behind the film. “Sometimes we forget about it because we automatically believe our mothers love us, that we love our kids, and that’s it. There is a lot of drama within families and sometimes hatred wins, sometimes you don’t speak to your parents for 20 years and I just don’t like it.”
“Good relationships, like those Filip and I have in our lives, are the most important thing,” remarks Horská when asked why she was drawn to the project. “I have two kids, a family, and I understand the sentiment. The film is also very rich in its visuality and style, it portrays such beautiful surroundings.”
The brief teaser shown at IDFA Forum offered a taste of the visual style Horská is referring to. The first few seconds of the clip show a naked woman walking outside, still dripping with water from the bath. She is fully in the nude when she sits on an ornate chair to pose for her husband, Blanca’s dad. The clip’s absurdist tone perfectly conveys Remunda’s penchant for comedy.
“I am working on a tragicomic film [laughs]. I feel like humor is the only way to deal with life’s most dramatic moments. As is usual with my films, I mix up humor with tragedy. It doesn’t mean that when there is laughter in the film, I am laughing at what is happening. To me, laughter grants you a moment to think. When you laugh, you see something that you understand is not right. I hope that in this moment of laughter, we can see things differently.”
Despite the larger-than-life father dominating the screen, the film will be told by Blanca, the director emphasizes. “It will be told from her female perspective with a focus on the ups and downs in a family dynamics. This is a major story line, and I believe it will attract a lot of people who experienced the pandemic, and understood that there is nothing bigger in life than healthy relationships. It is also a story about a father and his, often very explicit, erotic photographs, but I’d like to advocate for him because he is a significant artist. His name is Vlastimil Kula, and he’s a recognized photographer known for his passion for light and original aesthetics style, whose work has been published in Taschen in Germany.”
Are there any challenges in capturing the intimacy of the family? “Sometimes you hear within the documentary world about people having a hard time because their subjects refuse shooting, they dislike the idea of being filmed, even when they loved it at the beginning,” explains Remunda. “With this family, however, there is a certain stability because they like to be filmed. For them, it’s a moment where they can think together, it’s a secure space for them to discuss things they have never discussed before. We are capitalizing on the family dynamics and they are really enjoying the shooting.”
If the film will change after its passage through Forum, Remunda doesn’t know, but he is open to going where the story leads him. “In my experience, documentary films can’t be fully scripted. We are connected to reality and to what is happening with this family, so I will be truly happy if the film surprises me. It will probably lead to an unknown ending, but I am very sure of what I’m doing, of how much I know the family. They are very open, they trust me. We’ve known each other for 20 years, so this will be a very frank, honest and intimate portrayal of this family.”
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