City on the River: Brigita Cmuntová in co-production war drama (interview)

Singer, actress and lyricist Brigita Cmuntová played the energetic and somewhat overbearing Jewish girl Zisele in Latvian director Viesturs Kairiš’ co-production film The City on the River, which has just arrived in Czech cinemas. But he doesn’t have much in common with his movie character. She is actually a sweet and thoughtful girl with a sparkling look who likes to sing and teaches voice work for children and adults. We met on a frosty sunny morning to talk for a while about how she was looking forward to filming abroad, what she experienced for the first time in several Czechs (Bábovky, First Republic) and what level of tragicomic history speaks to him personally.

Brigita Cmuntová in the movie The City on the River

How did you get into the role of Zisele?

Mirka Hyžíková from the casting agency called me and told me that they were looking for an actress for this film and if I wanted to do some rehearsals in front of the camera. I learned the script, arrived, filmed what was needed, she sent the disc with a few others, then they called me to come get me.

I guess you didn’t hesitate and accepted. What do you think?is rightthe latterKalo?

It was above all the cooperation itself – that I shot abroad. It was also interesting for me to be able to play a Jewish girl. The whole idea came to me deeply, it completely attracted me.

Its a storyhz Latvia. You weren’t afraid of having to learn all your lineshow are you Latgalian – the language used todayofin the eastern part of Latviaska?

Not exactly. I always had the English version of the replica and the Latvian version below. I also had recordings and I listened to everything. I felt like I was learning a magic language. (laughs) I still remember one line, I forgot the others… (Brigita tells me – it looks like she’s reading the puzzle in Czech backwards.) That’s the first sentence I learned. It’s already etched in me like a groove on a gramophone record. I think it was from a scene where my fellow actor Davis Suharevskis, who played Ansis, is holding a picture frame and I come out from behind the house and appear as a picture in a frame.

By the way, it’s a very nice shot. And there are more.

It is the work of cameraman Gints Berzins. He told me that he had filmed several times in the Czech Republic and that he sometimes tried to speak Czech, which was very pleasant. It is interesting on his camera that all the plans are distorted. When my mother went to see the Finale Pilsen, where the film was screened, I asked her the question. But she told me she hadn’t noticed anything. (laughs) And that’s exactly what I like about the City on the River – it has a visually unusual shape, which underlines a certain tragicomic of the whole story, but doesn’t disturb the viewer looking at the story.

Back to your character. It is finally prefabricated. you are not sorrySit?

On the contrary. Personally, I’m happy about it, because this voice gave Zisele an even more mature character. I think this role demanded it. According to the director’s idea and the script, my character had to be very fiery and spontaneous. And I would say the roles I’ve had so far have been more subtle and softer. So it went well. And it was certainly clear in my voice that it wasn’t my language and maybe there was some uncertainty. But I learned it honestly. It was probably my greatest preparation for this role.

how much you learn cheerleader rolehas your music been heard?

I believe that has been my great help in this case.

How in yourIn this case, the shooting took place?

I traveled to Latvia for the first time in winter. So only for a day of shooting. I arrived around midnight and had boarding at five in the morning. And it’s not as cold there as it is here. I arrived at -15 degrees Celsius, it’s drifting everywhere, and I’m quite cold. At the time, I was grateful to only say three words. It was the first step. Then I returned to Latvia during the summer. It took ten days, then I returned to the Czech Republic. This has been the case several times and in several different places. Then I finally went back there, during the filming of the final scene. I shot someone, he shot me, then I definitely flew away. (smile)

Brigita Cmuntová with acting colleague Davis Suharevskis

When we told youYes BIf you shoot in Latvia, you knewthe countrymoreover, like its history?

Not at all. My mother was very afraid of my trip. She didn’t even talk to me for about a week about going somewhere I didn’t know anyone, and she was irrelevant. I must say that the capital Riga is such a small Prague for me. The city is beautiful, lots of beautiful buildings. But everything is so much calmer there. I really liked going back.

But you still had to travel from Riga somewhere, thatE?

Yes, we went to the border in places whose names I no longer remember. There were more of these places. They have always been villages. It was about a three hour drive which was an experience for me as I could observe the scenery. It was perfectly flat, endless plains, sometimes a tree or a lonely cottage.

You will remember the first meeting with the directortime? And yous půfloor?

We met via Skype to talk about the script for my role. Viesturs is a good person. And he also has a good wife! (laugh) I liked how they teamed up and formed together. It was good…

Brigita Cmuntová in the movie The City on the River

And what did you say to St.its actorEhis partner Davis?

I really liked that the director cast his non-actor for the role of Ansis. He is a highly educated man and an intellectual in civilian life. It all fit perfectly with his simplicity as an actor, when he wasn’t trying to create something magnificent on camera, but just being there. I really liked his nature.

You had the opportunity to meet before filming to meetor?

Yes. As you say, it was before the shooting that I went to meet the director, the director of photography and also Davis. We rehearsed a few passages together and had some time. Afterwards, a large part was created on site.

And is this style of working for you?

I’m the one I usually like when things are ready, but that’s not always necessary. Being now and here was actually nice too. But I also have the experience that we are at Babovek Rudy Havlík had time to read the rehearsals, we met and talked a lot. I thought it was good to unite the team. Now that I think about your question, I probably like both working styles.

Brigita Cmuntová (photo: Czech Television)

Since you mainly focus on music, I would like to know what you said full of soundtrackvariousch halekaček a folkloralpatterns?

I really liked him. I like this kind of music. I also remember that there are a lot of these squeaks. It reminds me that there were also Czech sound engineers with us on the set. It was good for me to have compatriots there.

And I would like to congratulate you on the award you received for your role in City on the River.

Thank you so much.

As I learned, you got it plus the year you firstHe erased the differences between the female and male categories in his history, so you really scored to the fullestE!

I don’t even know how I did… One day I picked up the phone and there was an incredibly excited voice telling me that I had won the Grand Christopher Award for Best Supporting Actor in City on the River. But I felt weird. I don’t want it to sound ungrateful. I really appreciate these awards. And I was happy. Probably the fact that everything happened so far, and at the time of covid, is also to blame. The announcement took place via Skype and the statue was then sent to me.

Where is it displayed?

I don’t have it on display. I kept it at home in southern Bohemia.

How do you actually perceive the history of the city on rwhat?

The most important thing for me was the human level. Ansis, an ordinary calligrapher, cannot be broken by anyone. The governments around him take turns and he can still live his life alone.

I still realized that in the film oblEyou wear a lot of period costumes. You’ve been through this beforeE in The First Republic series in which you starred. You like thiss prave this one teaholy goprofession or does not experience it in a particular wayyou?

It’s true that I mostly shot period films. I have always loved the transformation created by the costume.

What’s more for you when you have to choose between music and actingm?

I think acting happened to me. When I went to Prague, it was to sing, but I enrolled in a school where there was also theatre. It worked and it happened on its own. But I still have music. It’s something I choose for myself. It has always been so. And when acting happens to me again, it happens to me. (smile) But I already feel like I don’t go into every menu and think about what I’m doing and what I’m not doing.

prepared by: Dagmar Šimková, Totalfilm.cz
photo / video: 8 Heads Production, Czech Television © 2022

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