The protégé of Gaspar Noé becoming an unstoppable force in film.
Suit SNOW XUE GAO and shirt ADAM SELMAN
“I think the industry is open for women in filmmaking,” asserts the Prague-born, Los Angeles-based actress, screenwriter and director Eva Doležalová. “Female sensitivity in film is much needed. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from or how old you are, all that matters is that you believe in yourself and your dreams. It is our time to step up and show the world that women can do anything!”
It goes without saying that she’s right — patriarchy placed hurdles aside, women do and always have held the capacity to do anything — but it would be naïve to deny there remains a dearth in filmmaking. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the fifth highest grossing movie of 2017 so far according to IMDb, but hers is the only female name within the top 20, while at this year’s Venice Film Festival just one of the 21 films in competition boasts a woman in the director’s chair.
Doležalová is unphased. “Not at all! I think I am lucky to be alive in 2017,” she says, “times, wherein the women in industry were only actresses, script girls or editors, are over. The female is significant in filmmaking, and I am glad that it’s being recognised.” Today’s stage is certainly a different affair to that explored by Vera Chytilová, perhaps Czech cinema’s most famed female director, in the 20th century (it’s not unlikely your best friend’s first cousin has a still from her 1966 picture Daisies for a cover photo on Facebook).
Acting since she was 10, at 26 Doležalová’s trajectory is already wholly different from her fellow countrywoman. Beginning with a Hi8 camera in her early teens — “I filmed just about everything around me at our old house” — she studied in London, later training under Gaspar Noé in Paris. “Someone who loves cinema with his heart and soul, he was the first one to introduce me to it all (French New Wave, Italian Neorealism…),” she remembers. “His techniques as a director aren’t perhaps my favourite, but I unquestionably respect his films.”
Doležalová’s work reflects on the personal and she namechecks human behaviour as a key influence, alongside heavyweight directors like Stanley Kubrick and Federico Fellini. She likewise reckons Julia Ducournau’s RAW was “one of the best film experiences I’ve felt since 2001: A Space Odyssey”. Premiering earlier this year, Doležalová’s debut short Sound of Sun (starring Suki Waterhouse and, ahem, Sean Penn) was the product of a recurring dream, while her latest output hones in on experiences in her adopted town.
“My transition from Europe to Hollywood and the people within the industry,” she replies of the inspiration for Carte Blanche. “At first it really does feel like a ‘La La Land’, it just has that thing,” she notes, “however it is the place where if you’ve got your head and heart in the right place, it’s going to be a wonderful journey.”
As with Sound of Sun (catch the trailer above), the casting for Carte Blanche nods to someone with a certain authority in the industry. Waterhouse returns — “she’s so fun and free” — joined by Jack Kilmer and the model Jordan Barrett, but the real coup is Dylan Sprouse, taking on the lead Gideon Blake. “The conversation was short but delightful,” Doležalová says of their initial meeting, on Skype.
Sprouse’s first on screen role since dropping The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody in 2011, has, much like his twin Cole’s Riverdale return, prompted the kind of hype favoured by the internet’s TBT style listicle culture; a sort of triumph for any young director. “I am thrilled to be the director he gave himself to after so many years,” Doležalová agrees, “he really became the best Gideon Blake possible.”