Tribeca Interview: Bohdan Sláma Talks “Ice Mother”

To change life is not difficult, but to make an attempt towards those changes is what might terrify people. Hanna is a woman who lives in a house without heating system. Her apartment is always cold, which makes her children less happy about it. But one day things will change for her. She will be able to look at her children from a different angle where they won’t appear in a pleasant light.

Despite an icy title “Ice Mother”, Bohdan Sláma‘s movie is about an incredibly kind woman whose story everybody would love to know. During the Tribeca Film Festival, despite the urgency to be in Toronto, filmmaker Bohdan Sláma kindly agreed to have a phone interview to discuss one of the best films screened so far in Tribeca.

MOVIEMOVESME: There is some social injustice in “Ice Mother”. I wonder what is that inspired you to write the screenplay and even make a film about it?

Bohdan Sláma: It is a position of the mother in family like a mother always needs to keep everything together and always it is like to be in in terms of her position in a family. The main idea is how she gets her own way of self-confidence, not to be a slave any more to her sons. That’s the main theme that attracted me to write this movie.

MOVIEMOVESME: There was an interesting connection between Ivanek and Hanna. It was obvious seeing positive changes in Ivanek after staying with Hanna. 

Bohdan Sláma: To me it was very important story of a kid where he lives with the parents that are nearly in cold relationships with each other to find somebody who will give him a father feeling, like Brona. Because those very sophisticated gaps, because Ivan, boy’s father sometimes loses basic feelings which are very important for kids. And Brona instinctively feels what is the problem and gives him a father feeling. For me it was important because they question a new family Hanna, Brona and Ivanek. It is something I should say was very extraordinary to find a single family in those old people I found very crucial. Simply said, Brona opens his feelings for kids and that next me this character was very nice.

MOVIEMOVESME: I guess whoever saw the film will agree with me that, the best actor in the film was pet chicken. I liked the way you made this pet chicken look more humane than Hannah’s children to their mother.

Bohdan Sláma: This pet chicken was very jealous (laughs). I think we human beings should be able to connect with the nature, and once this connection is cut we are losing a lot. That’s why I chose such an extraordinary animal, because people are in more closer connection with dogs and cats. And chicken is just only to eat. So for me the challenge was to show to show human relation with animal, which is chicken. I think to understand animals gets us a lot than human beings.

MOVIEMOVESME: Beside the pet chicken, human actors did a great job as well. Could you talk about the casting process?

Bohdan Sláma: Hanna, Zuzana Krónerová. She already was in all my movies. I like her personally and as an actress as well. She is amazing and always can be a new person for a character she portrays. It was quite hard for her to swim in icy water. It was really cold. But she still did it. And the actor who played Brona, Pavel Novy is a very nice guy with whom I never worked before. Because he used to play in comedies. He is a guy who went through a very hard life experience. He had mirosa. He was unable to move. He got such a life experience, which is in his face. He is such a nice person. And because of his life experience he suited well to character Brona very well. And this little guy who played Ivanek we had go through long casting process, looking for Ivanek in 400 other kids.  He has something special that he was a great fit to Ivanek. He is also a sportsman. So I did not have to work too much with him, as he had something in common with Ivanek that came in natural way. And all other actors that I worked before. All of them were in my films. But there were non-actors as well, an eye swimmer. I really enjoyed working with non actors as they always bring something new and fresh and artificial to acting which is always a great inspiration for an actor.

MOVIEMOVESME: As you were writing Hanna, her situations and troubles she had to go through her relationship with her children who did not treat her well. Through that process is there anything you have learnt from her? 

Bohdan Sláma: Yes, it was very hard for me, as I tried to identify her with a woman character. I needed somehow to find a life experience for her. And it was the process of two years and it was not that easy. And I had to imagine a lot. I also had a huge discussion with Susannah about Hanna to get it right and she inspired me from a human side of view. She helped me a lot to understand Hanna’s situation.

MOVIEMOVESME: No offense here to anyone. But we do know there are many selfish and careless children out there. In most cases they mistreat or take advantage on their parents. What would you tell them if you had that chance?

Bohdan Sláma: You already said that. That is the sense of the story to just have this hope even if at this age you can find self confidence, something like, ‘I will be able to change no matter what’. I don’t like the characters that stay in the same position all their life. I like the characters that changes. My message is like lets change. There is always a chance to change and develop our minds and that is the hope one can have.

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