Pushing the boundaries

A guest at this week’s Czech Film Week in Jerusalem, producer Jiri Konecny talks to the ‘Post’ about the challenges of making a good film.

Jiri Konecny 370 (photo credit: courtesy endorfilm)
Jiri Konecny 370
(photo credit: courtesy endorfilm)
Czech Film Week in Jerusalem opened at the Cinematheque on Monday evening with the feature film A Night Too Young in the presence of Cinematheque founder Lia Van Leer, director of the Czech Center in Tel Aviv Lukas Pribyl and the film’s producer, Jiri Konecny.
The film, a Czech-Slovenia co-production directed by Olmo Omerzu, has garnered several prizes, such as best film at the Neisse and Famufest film festivals in Europe, best director at the Voices Film Festival in Vologda, Russia, and a special mention at the Bradford International Film Festival in the UK. The Hollywood Reporter called the one-hour film “A pretty good thing in a decidedly small package.”
Set in a city in the Czech Republic on New Year’s Day, the film tells the story of two 12-year-old boys who are drawn into a complex lovehate scenario that involves an attractive young teacher and three men. As we, the audience, observe the boys observing the unfolding situation, we too are drawn into the machinations of the adults, each trying to achieve his/her own ends.
In a question-and-answer period following the screening, Konecny admitted that “this film is not for everyone.” With its enigmatic plot line and subtle dream sequences, it is geared more toward the dedicated cinephile. And indeed, his answers to the questions did illuminate some of the film’s more elusive elements.
To date, Konecny’s company, Endor Film, has produced some 15 feature films and documentaries, the 40-year-old Czech producer told The Jerusalem Post. Many of them are co-productions with other countries, as “I would be too limited otherwise,” he says.
“I try to make quality films, not just ones that are commercial,” he explains. “I would rather have a high-quality film that is truly loved by a small audience than a mediocre one that a wider audience thinks is just okay.”
In fact, his Made in Ash was on last year’s list of Oscar candidates (but not nominees) for best foreign film.
Although Konecny is selective in the films he chooses to produce, “Going by my intuition and inner feelings doesn’t mean the outcome is always excellent,” he admits. “You have to make mistakes, too. When you make mistakes, you reconfirm your instincts, your rhythm and your courage, and you really have something to offer.”
For Konecny, the key word when it comes to a good film is “fascination.”
“The older we get, the less we are struck by something,” he says. So the challenge – and the magic – of making a good film is to tap into that sense of wonder and amazement, he believes.
“But you can’t force it,” he continues. “You have to be open to it and welcome it. It has to be natural.”
And speaking of wonder, Konecny says that this, his first visit to Israel, has been a real eye-opener.
“You come with a lot of fear and prejudices,” he says. “Even though I know that what I see on the news is not the actual reality, I still had fears of bombs and doubts about the Israeli elements,” he confides.
“But I got rid of those fears quite quickly,” he smiles. “It is so rich and lively, and I am just thrilled to be here.”
Planning to open his eyes very early the next morning, he said that he and his wife were going to watch the sunrise over the Western Wall.
Quoting Bogart’s classic line from Casablanca, he says, “This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”