Daughter, an animated film directed by Daria Kashcheeva, a student at the Prague Film and TV School, has won the prestigious Student Academy Award, bringing the award back to Czechia for the first time since 1989. Jan Svěrák was the first ever Czech director to win it thirty years ago for his graduation film Oil Gobblers. The official award ceremony will take place on 17th October.
A thrilling and somewhat dark drama about a small girl and her complicated relationship with her father captured by a unique visual style and engaging direction: all this and more describes the puppet film Daughter directed by Daria Kashcheeva, which has made it through to the final stage of the renowned Student Academy Awards. The competition is run by the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is the same institution that organises the regular Academy Awards, hence the nickname “Student Oscars”.
Being nominated for this most prestigious student film award is a success in itself. Only two other films made it through to the “International Film Schools – Animation” category – one from France and one from Germany.
There was another film by a FAMU student, The Kite by Martin Smatana, which reached the semi-final together with Kashcheeva’s Daughter, although it did not make the list of finalists. The winners of the most prestigious film awards in the world will be announced in mid-October.
Film for the entrance exams
Daria Kashcheeva wrote the storyline for Daughter five years ago as part of her entrance exams to FAMU. The story then gathered dust for quite a long time before Kashcheeva returned to it at the end of her second year. “I spent about six months developing the script and the storyboard. Creating the set and puppets took four months of very intense work and another intense four months of 12-hour shifts went into the animation. The final postproduction took about three months,” says Kashcheeva when giving an overview of the creative process.
Daria Kashcheeva comes from Tajikistan. When she was four, her family was forced to flee the civil war that broke out after the fall of the USSR. They moved to a small town in Russia, which she later left to study and work in Moscow and then moved to the Czech Republic with her husband.
“The inspiration for Daughter came from my own childhood and my memories of my relationship with my parents. Before I finally arrived at the topic of the relationship between a child and her parents, I spent a lot of time trying to develop another topic. I tried to write a lot and make up funny or unrealistic stories, but it just didn’t work and I became very frustrated,” says Kashcheeva.
Her puppet drama has a unique visual style and dynamic moving camera, which is very difficult to achieve when creating a puppet film. Kashcheeva already has a storyline for her next film, which will be her final project for her master’s studies at FAMU. Once again, she does not take the easy option. “I’d like to have live actors in the movie and combine live-action, pixilation (editor’s note – a technique where live actors are used as subjects in an animated film), puppet and object animation,” she says.