Producer Martina Adamcova on bringing real stories to the screen

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Shooting films during a pandemic is challenging, especially when restrictions are changing constantly, but Martina Adamcova has made it possible. The Canadian producer and film maker, also known as Tina Adams, works in four languages and films all over the globe. Focused on documentaries, Martina works with big names and diverse, challenging subjects. Here she talks about how producing movies is “irrational” but rewarding, and the ambitious plans she has for her latest documentaries.

Which projects you are currently working on?

“At Marcova Productions we’re working on two documentaries at the moment. One is all about Harlem, and its unique place as a symbol of black culture. Another, ‘Concealed Identity’, is about a renowned American genetic researcher who was unaware of his own Jewish history.”

What is it like being a producer?

“I found myself in the role of a producer by sitting on the couch with my feet elevated on the table. Marcello Mastroianni once said: ‘The artist is working the most while procrastinating on the sofa.’ He didn’t mean that we, the artists, are lazy; it’s that we have to think and imagine a lot. The imagination is the key to the producer’s world.

“But seriously, being a producer is not like being an ordinary CEO or the boss of a small business. It takes a special défectuosité [defectiveness]. There is nothing rational about producing movies, especially the independent way. There is no way to be 100% sure about how it will all come out, and there is no routine to my work. It is a fresh start every day.” 

Photo credit: Dorothea Bylica

Why did you decide to work on documentary films?

“The documentary is the new black! With so much staying at home, we’re fed up with just being entertained, so many of us are turning to documentaries. Also, there is an urge to receive reliable information. The documentary is a great source of it.

“But there is also the talent that has emerged around me, unstoppable and hungry, such as my collaborator Malcolm St-Pierre. He was the one who came up with the idea for the documentary ‘Harlem’ and then he introduced me to the Oscar-winning film maker Malcolm Clarke. This type of opportunity comes around once in a lifetime. The topic of the disappearing landmarks of Harlem is fascinating. We have something very important on the table, and as a person and a producer I had the irresistible urge to help the story be presented to the public.”

Tell us more about the project.

‘Harlem’ started with meeting Michael Adams, the author of the book ‘Harlem: Lost And Found’. Michael is fearlessly defending Harlem buildings from being torn down and replaced, well, by nothing. With every hospital, with every library, with every school, the black community is losing a piece of history, identity, a trace of its strength.

“We aim to present some terrific images and appealing locations. We want to make people understand what Harlem means to African Americans.” 

Photo credit: Dorothea Bylica

Who are you working with?

“I have already mentioned the Oscar-winning producer Malcolm Clarke, but it’s also an honour to partner with Viktor Schwarcz from Prague on the documentary ‘Concealed Identity’.

“This is another fascinating story but from another time, on another subject. We follow a renowned professor of genetics and immunology at McGill University, a very well-established scientist, who was told that he is not who he thought he was, in an old-fashioned hand-written letter from Germany. WWII is the heart of the story. We discover that he escaped the genocide of the Jewish population in Ukraine, but in an unimaginable manner – he was saved as an infant by an SS soldier.

“I hope to attract some A-list Hollywood voices for the narration of this striking story. I think of Liam Neeson or Meryl Streep. Another dream would be to include a big name in the documentary ‘Harlem’. Maybe a New York developer talking about the landmarks linked directly to black culture? Or even President Obama? That would be the dream.”

Featured photo credit: Olga Rusakova