Body-Positive Annecy Player ‘Living Large’ Debuts Trailer: ‘You Must Accept Yourself First’ (EXCLUSIVE)

By Marta Balaga

It’s all about a generous helping of self-love in Kristina Dufková‘s stop-motion offering “Living Large,” which screens in Annecy’s Contrechamp competition this week and debuts its trailer exclusively with Variety.

For teenager Ben, it’s not always that easy. Despite the bullying and the mockery he has to endure at school, he’s never worried too much about his weight. However, after meeting the lovely Klara, he wants to change. Instead of cooking another sumptuous meal for his single mother or practicing with his band, he goes on a diet.  

“Ben needs to start liking himself – just the way he is. Only then can he think about making any serious lifestyle changes,” explains Dufková, who makes her feature debut with the film.

“He loses a bit of weight as the story progresses; he decides to be healthier, but he doesn’t suddenly become thin. He falls in love and starts to look at himself differently, but you must accept yourself first. That’s the lesson here, and that’s the first step on this journey.”

She decided to make the film – produced by Matěj Chlupáček for Barletta – after being inspired by Mikaël Ollivier’s novel.

“It was the right time because my daughter was also a teenager, and I noticed there weren’t many films focusing on older kids. Also, it’s not just about our relationship with food or struggles with obesity. It’s about leaving childhood behind and transforming into an adult.”

Dufková hopes “Living Large” will speak to kids and grownups alike. “It can remind adults of that particular time in their lives, and it can help kids who are going through it right now,” she says.

With Gebeka International handling international sales, the film was co-produced by Novinski, Česká televise and Novanima Productions. 

Figuring out its look took some time, admits Dufková, “At first, not everyone found Ben and his friends likable. Early on, some people told us they thought they were scary! To me, that’s so odd. They are beautiful. Creating Ben was perhaps the single most complicated task because you needed to fall in love with him from the very first moment. We did many, many tests to get it right.”

Apart from his physique, she always intended to focus on Ben’s inner turmoil as well, expressed in 2D animation.

“The book was written in the first person and I really wanted to capture his emotions and understand what he feels. All my films are about the characters’ inner states. Animation is just a better way of telling these stories. You can easily exaggerate certain things, which would be much harder in live-action.”

She also added multiple musical sequences.

“Ben’s love for music and his band wasn’t in the book, but I knew he needed something else in his life. It couldn’t be all about food or cooking. Now, the lyrics of these songs reflect his emotions too,” she says.

Dufková isn’t afraid to draw inspiration from the people closest to her, she confessed — including her own children — or to occasionally show her characters in a not-so-flattering light. Ben’s mother is dismissive of his father’s new girlfriend, his grandmother hates the mere idea of dieting, and he doesn’t take kindly to rejection.

“My son is laughing now, saying he can spot many things he does or says in real life. I find material everywhere I look. It was important to include such scenes because this story had to be always rooted in reality, and they had to be human,” she says. 

“I would love for this film to give you this uplifting feeling at the end. The truth is, you can overcome everything. You just have to put your mind to it.”

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