Cinema: when Czech F1 fans travel to Barcelona via Ariège

In 2017, at the La Rochelle TV Fiction Festival, when he was already working on the screenplay for Grand Prix, Jan Prušinovský received the Prize for Best European Fiction for “Trpaslík” (The Dwarf, in French), a series that parodies ordinary Czech life by dealing with topics such as racism. Two years later, the director and screenwriter broke ratings records with another series, titled “MOST! “. Again in a comical tone, this soap opera was interested in xenophobia and transphobia in Czech society.

Jan Prušinovský and Kryštof Hádek | Photo: Offside Men

Jan Prušinovský has also directed several highly acclaimed feature films, including the thriller “Kobry a užovky” (The Snake Brothers) which won the Czech Lion award for best film and best direction in 2016. After this story of two brothers who plunge into unemployment, drugs and alcohol and who try, in vain, to build a satisfying life for themselves, Prušinovský has made another film with a strong message: “Chyby” (Mistakes). Rewarded in 2021 with the Czech Critics’ Prize for the best female interpretation, “Chyby” depicts a young woman who tries to escape her past as a pornographic actress but comes up against misunderstanding and prejudice.

With “Grand Prix”, Jan Prušinovský adopts a seemingly lighter tone. Just like the heroes of his previous films, the characters of this comedy live in the provinces. Emil owns a garage there, Roman a second-hand car shop. A televised contest wins them tickets for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix. The two cousins ​​then realize their dream and take the road towards Barcelona from their village of Cvikov, located near the Czech-Polish border. A petty thief and friend of Roman joins them by chance as he is on the run from a local drug dealer. But as the trio take the road to Spain, the trip does not go as they had imagined…

Grand Prize | Photo: Jan Hornik, Falcon

Jan Prušinovský explains what motivated him to make this film, which deals with passion for car racing as well as friendship, love and even lost illusions:

“I wrote this screenplay because the road movie is almost non-existent in Czech cinema today. The heroes of Czech films rarely cross the country’s borders to experience something new. They usually don’t go any further than Prague… So my primary motivation was not to make a Formula 1 film. I only came up with this idea later, thinking about where my characters could surrender and with what purpose. »

Grand Prize | Photo: Jan Hornik, Falcon

“In my previous films, I was very interested in football fans, but this time I chose the community of Formula 1 fans which is also quite large in the Czech Republic. It is a film that is closer to Anglo-Saxon comedy than to Czech comedy, in that it is rather dynamic with an adventure side and also a criminal plot. »

Directed by an international team, “Grand Prix” was shot, in full confinement linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, in the Czech Republic and in the three other countries that the heroes of the film cross: Germany, France and Spain.

For Jan Prušinovský, filming in France was more complicated than filming on the Barcelona circuit:

“Shooting in France has become a nightmare. Everything was strictly regulated, we had to wait a long time to get a whole bunch of authorizations and permissions. In the Czech Republic, but also in Spain, the authorities have a more liberal approach towards film crews. Even our French colleagues told us that it is for this reason that they sometimes prefer to shoot abroad rather than in France. As we shot in the countryside and in small towns, the restrictions related to the pandemic, even if they were a little different in each country, did not really limit us. »

Grand Prize | Photo: Jan Hornik, Falcon

“Despite the administrative constraints, we really got on very well with the French production team. I also really liked working with Séphora, the French actress who plays in the film. I chose her from three actresses. I didn’t do conventional tests with them, I wanted them to talk to me, without an interpreter, about what they do for a living. Séphora was the most convincing, because of her career, and also the funniest. »

Daughter of Cameroonian immigrants settled in France, Séphora Pondi has been a resident of the Comédie-Française for more than a year, where she plays until February 26 in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. “Grand Prix” was his first foreign film:

Sephora Pondi | Photo: Magdalena Hrozínková, Radio Prague Int.

“I play the role of Gabrielle, a young girl who lives in Ariège, where we shot. She is a waitress in a standard hotel. She crosses paths with these three men. She ends up having a one-night stand with one of them. Unfortunately, it ends quite abruptly, due to a great misunderstanding between her and this man. Apart from the physical report the day before, they don’t have much to share (laughs). She rushes off, abandoning them in the middle of the road. »

How was your collaboration with Jan Prušinovský and his team?

“A French casting director first contacted my agent, telling me that Jan was looking for a French actress for the role of Gabrielle. Initially, there were a lot of actresses on the role. I had about three test rounds, so the casting took quite a long time. Finally, there were four or five of us in the final phase, where we met Jan in France. In the end, he chose me, after a long time… It was my first casting for a foreign film! »

Séphora Pondi in the film Grand Prix

“I had about four days of filming, which was very well managed by the team: I didn’t feel any tension or animosity. I felt very welcome, everything was warm. »

“Unfortunately, our means of communication with the Czech actors were quite limited. When I read the script, I sensed a humor that amused me a lot, but on set, I couldn’t necessarily bounce back, not having the same speed. »

While Séphora Pondi plays in “Grand Prix” alongside well-known Czech actors such as Štěpán Kozub, Kryštof Hádek or Robin Ferro, in France, she will soon be appearing in the film “Before the Collapse” by Alice and Benoît Zeniter . She can also be seen in “Dégustation” by Ivan Calbérac and in the “Week-end family” series produced by PEF and Sophie Reine.

Video of Grand Prix (2022) oficiální HD trailer (Kozub, Ferro, Prušinovský)

Cinema: when Czech F1 fans travel to Barcelona via Ariège