SxSW 2021 Interview – Meet the team from LOVE IS JUST A DEATH AWAY!

A tender story about finding love even amid utter decay. Having its US Premiere in the Animated Shorts Competition at SxSW Online, we speak with director Bára Anna Stejskalová and Producer Jakub Koštál from LOVE IS JUST A DEATH AWAY. 

Welcome to SxSW and congratulations! Is this your first SxSW experience? 

Bára: Yes, it is! And I am very excited, as I always wanted to go. But as much as it is horrible we can’t go in person, it is still a great honor to have our film on such a wonderful platform.

Jakub: Thank you so much! It is the first SXSW for me as well. I’m super excited and honored!

How did you first hear about SxSW and wishing to send your project into the festival?

Bára: I can’t remember the exact moment, but definitely from my uni-mates, hearing something like “Man, it’s such a cool festival, I am so jealous you are going!”

Jakub:  I heard about SxSW a long time ago. In last year’s edition was Jan Vejnar’s short film Figurant and at that time, I thought it would be awesome to have a movie there.

Tell me about the idea behind LOVE IS JUST A DEATH AWAY and getting it made!

Bára: I was always interested in little things regarding the soul and how our spirit looks. I often felt like what I carry inside must look so much different than what it is outside. This little shift between body and mind. And that’s how the idea of a little cute parasite living in a dead dog carcass came to my head. Oh wait – at first there were two parasites actually – Bob and Steve – representing different sides of a person. But then I have met somebody and instead of the story being about two opposite forces, it became a love story.

Who are some of your creative inspirations? Any particular filmmaking talent or movie that inspired you for this project?

Bára: My favourite movie of all the times must be MADAME TUTLI PULTI. I can never have enough of it. The surrealism, yet raw tactical world, the dreams, all the little nuances told without a single word. It is just amazing. Another one I admire is Julia Pott and her film Belly. Seriously go watch it. It is amazing. Aesthetic quality, it’s full of surprises and tender relationships. I also really enjoy Josef Bolf’s paintings and photographs of Gregory Crewdson.

Jakub: I was thinking a lot about Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson, kind of obvious dogs and garbage.

How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of cameras/lenses did you use and/or did you have any creative challenges in making it?

Bára: We were using a 6D full frame Canon camera, to be able to get in all the vastness of landfill. Most of the film is made on 70mm – 35mm lenses. I find lighting in stop motion very challenging as we had multiple sky moods over the same set and I am such a sucker for pastel pink and gold skies, but luckily we had amazing cinematographer Václav Tlapák, who was helping on the set of the czech most famous animator Jan Švankmajer.

Being all virtual this year, what do you hope to get out of the virtual SxSW experience? And where is your project going next?

Bára:  I feel like there is no point crying anymore about not being able to attend. So we will do our best to get the most brilliant experience. We will set a projector in our living room, plan all the things we want to see, hear, experience and just be there. I can’t wait to meet other filmmakers and see their work, and I am really excited about audience live-comments. 

Jakub: I would love to experience as much as I can, but it is hard to do it from home. You always get driven off by something. Next, we have some other festivals in the US and also Europe, not sure if I can now say which ones.

What would you suggest to film festivals as a way to show more short films or make them more accessible to audiences across the country?

Bára: That is a tricky question. Generally I think all the theatres should start including short films as openings for feature films. We can have 15 minutes of commercials, so why not pop in a 5 minute animation? 

Jakub: Make regular screenings monthly or use the new digital online options for promoting them.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone to get their start as a creator or filmmaker in the industry, what would you suggest?

Bára: Slowly but surely. Be persistent, but be kind to yourself. Get to know yourself. It is not worth taking on so much and then burning out. 

Jakub: Get around you good team and just create and try.

And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?

Bára: I said my favourite above already so I am going to cheat and tell you my favourite animated music video! It is MOVING ON by James made by Ainslie Henderson.  

Jakub: That is a hard one! I would say one of my most favorites is Kung Fury.

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to!

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