Promise, I'll Be Fine / debut film in postproduction

    Promise, I'll Be Fine by Katarína Gramatová Promise, I'll Be Fine by Katarína Gramatová credit: DRYEYE FILM

    Only a few months ago, the filming of Katarína Gramatová’s debut fiction feature, Promise, I'll be Fine, wrapped. Previously, Gramatová’s made the short film Cherries, which won the Jury award at Zlin international film festival. Gramatová works primarily as an editor, after completing her studies at VŠMU Bratislava. Through this, she has worked with major brands on commercials, and collaborated on the music video for French artist Stromae - Sante, which currently has over 55 million views on YouTube and was nominated for Best Editing at Ciclope festival.

    Promise, I’ll Be Fine, which is currently awaiting its festival premiere, was developed by Gramatová and Slovak producer Igor Engler from DRYEYE Film. Set in an impoverished rural environment in Slovakia, the film follows four teenage boys who enjoy their summer holidays dedicated to their greatest passion — ‘babetta’ (motorbikes). The main character, Eňo, leads a relatively simple life, but everything changes when he discovers that his mother is not the honourable and kind person he admired her to be. The story was brought out from extensive observation of the relationships within the community of ‘hungry valley’, specifically the village Utekáč. Having worked extensively with this community on her short documentary A Good Mind Grows in Thorny Places (which is currently awaiting its festival premiere), Gramatová imbues the script with true authenticity, having cast the subjects of her documentary as the protagonists of the feature. Gramatová explains:

    “When I first visited the area in Slovakia, my initial observation of the aimless, state dependent lives so present in the community, sparked my curiosity. How could someone find fulfilment in such a life? However, as time went on, and I witnessed the locals' strong connection to the village and its majestic natural setting, I began to understand both the beauty and isolated mindset present in this place. I realized that exploitation thrives in poverty, creating a game of survival, where the strong rise to the top.

    My own childhood experiences shaped the story of our hero, Eňo, a troubled teenage boy, and his exploitative mother. While we often hear that mothers want the best for their kids, it's not always true. Some, especially in tough situations, focus on their own happiness even if it means sacrificing their child's well-being. This unfortunate reality is a story that resonates across the globe.”

    Promise, I'll be Fine, marks the debut for several film creators, notably including Czech cinematographer Tomáš Kotas. Gramatová cast four non-professional actors for the boys to give an authentic voice to the film. This created an excellent foil for the incredible cast, namely Jana Oľhová (Piargy), Attila Mokos (Piargy), Eva Mores (Nightsiren), and Marek Geišberg (Let There Be Light).

    Julia Marková Žáčková of NOCHI film, who co-produced the film on the Czech side, notes that: “The main characters, native to Utekáč, were trained in acting by the director, and are absolutely captivating in their authentic performances. I felt very fortunate to be approached by the creative team to co-produce this debut feature, as it shines light on people and locations that we as society overlook. We were welcomed with open arms by the local people, who became an inseparable part of not just the cast, but also our crew.”

    Producer, Igor Engler, who was recently accepted at the internationally prestigious film school, The National Film & Television School, reveals: “Our film explores the collapse of our cultural and social values, through the lens of these children. The young characters bring a fresh perspective to these social issues, as they learn to look pragmatically at their situation, and change it into a hopeful world-view. I admire the modesty both the professional and non-professional cast brought to this vital film. They managed to bring such heart and sincerity to this already incredibly exciting script. Making a debut feature film is a humbling and serious undertaking, but even so, the cultural relevance and fervour of this script has created an incredible opportunity to make this incredibly important film.“

    Promise, I'll be Fine is produced by Engler, DRYEYE Film, along with Czech co-producer Julie Marková Žáčková /NOCHI Film/ and Radio and Television Slovakia. The feature debut was made with the support of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Czech Film Fund and Terra Incognita fund of the Kosice Region in Slovakia. Currently, the film is in post-production, scheduled to finish in late spring of this year. The team are looking at a preliminary cinema release in 2025.