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POSTER

THE LITTLE FROM THE FISH SHOP

ORIGINAL TITLE: MALÁ Z RYBÁRNY

FILM BY JANA BALEJ
full-length animated film
stop-motion/CGI

SHORT SYNOPSIS



Deep underneath the sea surface, accompanied by a fish orchestra, the voice of the ocean is telling a story of Little – the Sea King´s daughter. They left the plundered waters of their home to live among humans.

They now lead a strenuous life in a somber fish shop in the heart of the harbor district where one day, Little comes to meet a handsome, confident and somewhat fresh young man – H.H.

From this moment on, the life of Little is to take a sea change.

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  • STATUT: IN PRODUCTION
  • DIRECTOR: JAN BALEJ
  • SCRIPT: IVAN ARSENJEV, JAN BALEJ
  • STORY: ADAPTATION OF H. CH. ANDERSEN´S „THE LITTLE MERMAID“
  • PRODUCER: NELLY D. JENČÍKOVÁ
  • CO-PRODUCERS: MARCELA A MARIAN FERKO (SK), OLIVIER CATHERIN (FR)
  • LANGUAGE: ENGLISH, FRANCE, FINISH, CZECH AND SLOVAK
  • GENRE: ANIMATED FEATURE FILM LOVE-STORY, DRAMA (ROMANCE), FAIRY-TALE
  • TYPE OF ANIMATION: PUPPET (STOP MOTION) AND DIGITAL ANIMATION
  • TARGET GROUP: 12+
  • LENGTH: 75 MIN.
  • PREMIER: 2015
  • DIGITAL CONCEPT ART: TOMÁŠ OŽVOLD (SK)
  • DIGITAL SUPERVISOR: BRUNO GHIGOU (FR)
  • CHIEF ANIMATOR: MICHAEL CARRINGTON (UK)
  • DESIGNER: JAN BALEJ (CZ)
  • COSTUME DESIGNER: RADKA BALEJOVÁ (CZ)
  • EDITOR: PATRIK PAŠ (SK)
  • SOUND: MICHAL HOLUBEC (CZ)
  • MUSIC: CHAPELIER FOU (FR), YANN TIERSEN (FR)
  • MUSIC SUPERVISOR: JUST TEMPTATION (DE-UK) - VINCENT FAVRAT (CH)
  • WORKFLOW SUPERVISOR: DAVID HAVEL (CZ)
  • CO-PRODUCTION:

  • MIRACLE FILM (CZ), MARLEN MEDIA GROUP (SK), LES TROIS OURS (FR)
  • PARTNERS:

  • ČESKÁ TELEVIZE (CZ), HAFAN FILM (CZ), BYSTROUŠKA (CZ), EMITA INVESTMENTS CZ (CZ), MUZEUM KARLA ZEMANA (CZ), FILM PARK (SK), JUST TEMPTATION (DE/UK)
  • SUPPORTED BY:

  • MINISTRY OF CULTURE CZECH REPUBLIC
  • SLOVAK AUDIOVISUAL FUND
  • EURIMAGES

TEASER 2014(EN):



TRAILERS 2013(EN, FR, FIN, CZ, SK):



DIRECTORS STATEMENT



Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” offers a beautiful and powerful story full of artistic inspiration, abundant in different settings, featuring identifiable, lovable and unique characters, giving us the opportunity to work with fairytale archetypes.

A mermaid who fell in love with a human “prince” and decided to become human for him – is a classical message of love in the world's literature. Bringing Andersen's story up-to-date and matching it with the reality of today's world gives us the opportunity to approach our present viewer and address the outlook on moral values of today.

The family of the Sea King symbolizes people coming from far-away exotic countries and different cultures. They come in hope for something better, but our world doesn't often accept them, so they remain a minority, isolated in their small communities.

The bizarre backdrop of a harbor city was chosen intentionally. First, cities like this have always been melting pots of various ethnicities - each with their own flavor and character - contributing to the colorful patchwork jointly forming the specific atmosphere of such milieus. Secondly, this backdrop shows best the contrast between the purity and innocence and the filth, evil and the dark side of our time. Also, these cities are a rich source of artistic reference allowing us to make excurses into various uncommon settings. And finally, there is the mysterious underwater world representing an independent yet inseparable chapter.

All the above said is associated with the artistic rendition stemming from Andersen's rich narrative with its abundance of characters and settings, and my true desire, as the designer, to make this film visually impressive and distinctive. Therefore I opted for the technology of puppet animation (stop-motion) based upon the rich tradition of Czech animated films that I've been working with since the very beginning of my film career. It is the typical “jerkiness” or “grain” of the animation technique paired with the feel of “authenticity” of the scenery that together help evoke the inclement atmosphere of a harbor-district. Other locations as e.g. the underwater world or the sky with its range of atmospheric effects, clouds made of smoke or the rare gold fish in Sea King's aquarium, call for computer generated animation /2D,3D, CGI/.

Therefore, the puppet animation is principal. Most of the sets are made non-digital way. As for the digital parts (e.g. streets' back plans) we first photograph the individual set elements from different angles, reconstruct them later in the digital environment to create an entirely new setting. Thanks to this technique we are able to maintain the unique compactness of the sets and at the same time fill the space of larger sceneries that would otherwise be impossible to make within the “puppet” method.

Positively crucial for the film are the music track and the sound effects track. We substitute the absence of dialog by building powerful music themes and introducing a unique emotional charge into the film that defines each character, thus influencing the whole storyline fundamentally and moving it forward. Although the characters do not speak, they express their feelings and emotions through the visual and music segment. This is when the NARRATOR gets involved, to establish and unfold the storyline, he's sort of a conductor of musical emotions this film is abundant with.

When love hurts.

“Little from the Fish Shop” is a story of love unfulfilled, brought from the two-hundred year old fairy-tale into the present life of the family of the Sea King and his daughter Little, who one day, instead of a “prince charming” falls for a streetwise night-club owner. Her love, after all, remains unfulfilled and it hurts, as it will hurt just the same onboard of a spaceship two hundred years from now. Although the witch's power helps Little become human and experience love, the same power can't reverse the curse and make Little commit a crime for the sake of fulfilling her love. Little's love remains pure to the very end.

Drawing a special connection between magic and reality is something, that I have been interested in and enjoying for a very long time now. I tried to use the same kind of narrative and angle of vision in my previous films, too. This makes Little from the Fish Shop the next step on this journey.

Jan Balej,
director / designer / co-writer

SYNOPSIS



Deep underneath the sea surface, accompanied by a fish orchestra, the voice of the ocean is telling a story of a fish king and his daughter Little. Having abandoned the looted waters of his home, the king, his mother and his three daughters, Little, Middle and Eldest, as well as many others, went to live with the humans. In a darkened fish shop in the very heart of the harbor district full of immigrants, they now lead a tough life full of hard work and loneliness.

One day, a confident, handsome, but somewhat brash young man - H.H. enters the fish shop. The sullen and gloomy king tries to attend to H.H. as fast as possible in order to get rid of him, and is by no means willing to sell his rare red fish to that young man. Completely unlike Little who is utterly enchanted by that man and the music that is following him. All the more so she´s been awaiting her sixteenth birthday when she´s finally allowed to enter the world of humans, the world she could only dream of at

the backyard of the fish shop. This is where she sits for long hours and listens to human voices. She would often ask her grandmother to tell her about human life and the immortal soul. At last, the long awaited day comes. At the family celebration Little receives many presents, the most beautiful one being a wire handcart - which she and her sisters will now use to deliver the fish to restaurants. One day, while strolling towards the harbor with her father and grandmother to listen to the music coming from underwater, their path is crossed by a white cabrio driven by H.H. Little is mesmerized, her eyes fixed on him.

The following day, she fills up her handcart with boxes and sets off. Just watching the pulsating city life is making her head spin in bedazzlement, unfamiliar faces, the stars and the moon in the sky. In a tucked away alley behind a restaurant, H.H. suddenly flies out of a window landing right at her feet. Someone must´ve been settling their accounts with him. She treats his wounds, loads him onto the cart and takes him to the night club where she saw him once before, leaving him at the doorstep. Unbeknownst to her this is a house of ill repute and H.H. is its owner. She ventures to kiss him. The instant, she falls in love.

During her grandma´s birthday party Little vanishes to the backyard. She lifts the sewage cover lid and descends into the wet, dreary underground. Here she finds a spooky witch with a monstrous chignon-like updo. Yes, Little wants to become human, experience love and get an immortal soul and she´d undergo anything to have that. The crone is willing to help her with that but first, Little must give her her precious pearl necklace and have her beautiful hair cut. Now, the crone will start performing her magic. When Little emerges from the clouds of smoke she finds her fin has morphed into two tiny cute legs. Although her every step cuts like a knife, she´s human now. Her last look at her family sleeping, Little bids them her silent farewell and heads off straight to the night club.

As a present, she brings H.H. the treasured red fish he once wanted to buy from her father. H.H. likes her dance and her fragile beauty so he “takes her in”. He seats her behind a large cash register and to much chagrin of the in-house “girls” he makes Little his official mistress. Little becomes a woman.

On the instant, her life becomes wonderful. Shopping, expensive restaurants, the white cabrio, fun and love. Little is happy. However, the idyll only lasts until the day when H.H. kicks out one of the girls because she became pregnant and Little stands up for her. The moment, H.H.´s love for Little cooled off. It didn´t take long and H.H. brought in a new girlfriend - the rich, beautiful and uncompromising blonde soon takes over the whole business, H.H. included. Little is pushed aside into the dirty kitchen.

One evening, the Middle sister makes a sneak peek into the club. She is horrified by Little´s situation and she begs her to come back home. Little is sad, she misses her home, yet she´s still hoping the blissful old time will be back and that H.H. still loves her. But he soon holds a loud wedding with the even louder blonde. And Little even dances for them at the party. Right then, her sisters seek out the witch in order to exchange their hair for a knife. If Little kills H.H. with that knife before the morning breaks she will get her fish-form back. Should she fail, she´d die by the daybreak. Do it, sisters urge her, you will save yourself and we´ll be all happy together again. And so Little indeed sneaks into H.H.´s bedroom one night. Here she is, standing there above her beloved one, holding the large glistening knife in her hand, but eventually she´s unable to kill him.

Through the shadowy streets in the morning twilight, Little staggers towards the fish shop. For one last time, she wants to see her loved ones. She´s almost there when the blazing crimson sun suddenly emerges above the horizon. Taking her last stare at it, Little slides down on the ground. Upon that, streams of water burst out of the hydrants onto the street. The streams of water take her tenderly in their arms and carry her towards the harbor where they hand her over to the sea waves. Her silhouette gradually moves away until it becomes one with the sea foam at the horizon. The fish orchestra keeps on playing the sad melody and the narrator closes the story of the Little from the fish shop.

EXIBITION 2013:



A small Christmas encounter with Jan Balej´s animated feature film
Karel Zeman Museum of Prague invites you to take the first sneak peek behind the scenes of the currently produced animated puppet feature “LITTLE FROM THE FISH SHOP”.

Receive a special collectible gift that will accompany you to the film´s premiere!

Karel Zeman Museum
20 December 2013 – 5 January 2014, Open daily: 10am – 7pm
24 December 2013 - until 3pm
25 December 2013 and 1 January 2014 - closed

Saská 3, Prague 1
Malá Strana (next to the Charles Bridge)

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