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Our country does not have many film actresses so popular as Iva Janžurová. She has done tens of roles, scenes, performances ... and they are always individual, original, and well done. This modest woman definitely deserves her tribute at this year's Finále Plzeň - and that not only because of her life jubilee. The nation loves her.

This may sound like a rehearsed phrase, but in this case it is not.This year you are returning to Finále to receive tribute, in 2007 you were here as a jury chairperson...

It is one of my favourite memories, it was a tremendous joy. I had some free time for that by chance and I really enjoyed those several days. It surprised me that I chaired the international jury. My pick for the winner then was a secret, I thought that my fellow film-makers, film theorists and reviewers from various countries would not agree with me - but in the end we agreed wonderfully. When the first one uttered aloud the name of the film I dared to firmly join in. It was the film called "Dolls" - and I still think it was the right choice. And one more film caught our attention at that time, its name was "It's Gonna Get Worse", shot by Petr Nikolaev. It is very strong. As jury we agreed that it stands out enough from the frame of all other films in competition, so we looked for - and found - a special award. I hope to see this film again!

I assume you like coming to Pilsen for the festival?

For me Finále has the advantage that after the end of Czech Lions, in which I vote and therefore must follow the Czech film production, only two or three new films are born. So I do not have to watch such a large number of films in Pilsen.

What do you think about Pilsen being the European Capital of Culture 2015?

I think it will be nice. Pilseners surely have a lot to do, they have to work hard. I'm curious how it will turn out, I am happy for Pilsen.

This year in Pilsen at Finále you will be given a special tribute, some time ago you expressed that you welcome such things ...

Any kind of praise in the form of an award, tribute, good review brings every actor great pleasure and happiness. I think that in this way we are all the same. The "strongmen" who say that such things bother them, that they don't care about them, say so but it is not true. Everyone is glad to receive an award!
I am convinced that there is no actor who is not pleased, including the anniversary or jubilee awards and lifetime achievement awards. I personally always get a good feeling from such personal events.

Generally you are said to be "the festival type" ...

That's right, going from one festival to another and being pampered would be wonderful. But at the same type I am not the kind of viewer who has a filing cabinet in his head and remembers scenes or entire films. It is very difficult for me to remember those I have seen. Last year, at the festival in Karlovy Vary, I decided to try harder and make notes, but it did not work out that well. I recently found the notes while cleaning - they were from three films, then I did not continue and forgot the impressions.
I am the "eater", I devour good films like good food. The next day I am able to tell my husband what I saw and that it was beautiful, but later then that I cannot put it into my memory channels.

But you rejoice from a good film ...

Yes. A few days ago I saw film "Howards End". I like the English film style. A well-made film makes my soul happy for a long time. It is hard to define the reasons why I like certain films, but they definitely leave my soul happy. And this also applies to films that are in a way tragic - if they are well done.

Do you watch films with professional deformation - do you think for example: I would have played this better?

Let me use again the already mentioned film "Howards End". I noticed that in this film Mr. Hopkins invented a gesture, through which he expressed that he is tormented, he wants to be forgiven, but you cannot quite believe him. That was nice. When he did it a third time, I thought: Oh, he created a gesture for this character. An exceptional actor has a role prepared from the inside and such gestures are the last thing that characterizes the role.

And to compare ...

I do not compare myself with other actors, I do not say that I wouldn't play a situation like that or that I would have done it better. Of course, I quietly watch everything and sometimes fill my reservoir. You always have some roles, if you didn't walk among people and observe them, at a certain point you would run out of ideas. So I am a silent observer. Even in film.
I know I cannot copy someone, firstly a devoted viewer would know, secondly I have never had the desire. I always wanted to be individual, original, and similar to no one. But I know and feel that a well-played role is the body with the soul. And it's great to watch that in good films.

People regard you a lot as a comedy actress, but you have also done some serious roles!

Many times people have told me or written to me that the cheap variety shows just distract me and are not worth my time and effort. But on the serious and comic - I almost always had an equal share of both, which I enjoyed very much. In a serious role I always looked for something entertaining, funny, and vice versa.
I very well know that the range from serious to sad is very useful and much needed in every character. Indeed, even in life we are like that: sometimes we are silly, other times we feel sorry for ourselves, and then we make fools of ourselves with our naivety. I think that as far as this is concerned, my roles were quite successful. I have discovered that in fact the approach to a serious and a comedy role is the same.

Did Vlasta Fabiánová, your teacher, teach you this already at the Academy?

You will be surprised, but I do not remember it. I went through school like every other stupid student who complains about the subjects that bore him, and cheers to those he enjoys. Professor Fabiánová basically allowed us to move more or less freely, and then in the fourth year she finally got angry with us because we were too sure of ourselves, and here and there we allowed ourselves to disagree. She was very practical and dealt with every task with great passion and great dedication. It wasn't about numerous general rules; rather it was about the temperament, dedication, and technique - in this sense, to be a bit harsh, she drilled us a lot. Actually, I do not recall her saying or not saying this or that. Perhaps it's my fault; maybe it would be better to ask my classmates.

Are you at present preparing for a new role?

Currently I have no film ahead of me, unfortunately. In television I am finishing a series and Filip Renč offered me a small role in a TV psychological thriller he is doing. I accepted the offer, even though it is not for any fundamental role usually desired by actors. But I thought that I will get to know the director, whom I have not worked with before. Otherwise, as I have said so far no great film role awaits me. I know that for an actress of a certain age, it is difficult. Some of my colleagues were lucky to find authors, who happily wrote roles scripted for elderly ladies. But it is rare. I am not troubled by that because I was lucky - I have made a lot of beautiful films and those films are in a way still alive. Television often plays them again and again, so I do not lose even the young audience and I'm still in awareness of people. And as far as a nice new role is concerned - one might still come up!

Tomáš Pilát