Australian filmmaker Michael Kratochvil is picking up serious momentum for his short film ‘Eileen Pratt’, which will soon debut here.
Obsessed with film at an early age, Melbourne based filmmaker Michael Kratochvil (pictured) would often vividly imagine films in his head without actually seeing them, something which helped him develop the idea for his self-financed short film Eileen Pratt, which is set to have its premiere at the Dungog Film Festival at the end of this month.
Inspired by a real woman who would sit on a bench outside a pet shop in a shopping centre vicariously watching people for hours on end, Kratochvil fleshed out the character in his mind, turning her into a bus driver and making the decision to tell her story without dialogue. "I'm a firm believer that cinema is at its most cinematic without dialogue. The choice to have virtually no discernible dialogue in the film was the element that helped bring the film together. Everything fell into place from there," he says.
Although dealing with themes of abandonment, loneliness, self-destruction and rebirth, Kratochvil says there is still a glimmer of hope to emerge from all the pain and suffering Eileen goes through. Wanting to avoid making Eileen a caricature of a socially awkward person, after meeting actress Susanne Chapman, Kratochvil was impressed with her bravery and commitment to the character. "In a number of ways, it is probably one of the most unglamorous and uncomfortable roles you could imagine, but she relished the challenge of becoming Eileen," he says.
In January this year, Eileen Pratt had its worldwide premiere at the Academy Awards accredited Slamdance festival in Park City, Utah. Kratochvil's story shows persistence is a key factor for young filmmakers. "The initial months of submitting Eileen Pratt to festivals resulted in nothing but rejection letters, which can get pretty demoralising, but I kept on submitting," he says. "It was a massive relief to finally get an acceptance from an internationally recognised festival like Slamdance, who champion independent cinema."
Not only was the screening of Eileen Pratt at Slamdance a validation for the hard work Kratochvil has invested, knowing that his film has connected with people from all over the world is a thrill. "A European audience member at Slamdance said to me after the screening, ‘Excuse me, I don't speak English, but I loved your film.' To make an Australian film that could translate internationally is what all of us hoped to achieve."
Kratochvil doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon, already developing ideas for his first feature film. "My next project is a low budget horror-drama script which I'll be shopping around soon. I'm really excited about it, it's unlike anything I've done before and will definitely be a very different kind of horror film," he says.
"I'm pretty much always thinking about new ideas for making films, so it has and will always be a life-long pursuit for me."
Eileen Pratt is currently screening at the Edinburgh Film Festival and will be shown at the Palm Springs International ShortFest in California in July. It will have its Australian premiere at the Dungog Film Festival on June 30 and tickets can be purchased here. For more on Michael Kratochvil, head here.