Deana Jakubisková-Horváthová – Darvulie
Producer with the heart of an Actress
Loved and hated, meek and domineering, soft and hard, calming and provocative, pure and controversial, but always a full-blooded woman with the boundless energy of a non-conformist standing outside the pack. These are the screen and stage roles of Deana Jakubiskova-Horvathova. She will next be seen on the big screen as Darvulia, the local sage in director Juraj Jakubisko's bold vision of notorious 17th century murderess, Countess Erzsebet Bathory's life. In recent years the actress and well-known personality has added producer to her list of credits.
Born in 1958 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Deana attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Bratislava (VSMU). While still a student she made her feature film debut in the drama Anonym, directed by Juraj Lihosita and began appearing as a guest actress on the stage of the Slovak National Theatre. Following graduation in 1981, she was offered a permanent engagement with the theatre company, easily establishing herself as a character actress with a remarkably wide range, confirmed by such tempermental yet sympathetic characters as those in Ibsen's drama Hedda Gabler and Moliere's comedy George Dandine.
As a member of the Slovak National Theatre company, Deana created many unforgettable characters, including: Lady Anne in Shakespeare's Richard III, Hilda in Ibsen's Lady of the Sea and Sofia in Griboedor's Utrapy z rozumu (The Trials of Wisdom) amongst others. She would play the lead in more than 20 plays during her 12 seasons with the company, and received the highest recognition from theatre critics for her role as the schizophrenic Sophie in Tennessee William's drama Creve Coeur. Deana's suggestive interpretation of her character's 'diagnosis' even overcame the age difference between her and the seventy-year old character, and at an early age she was singled out for her ability with psychologically volatile roles.
The post-revolution euphoria following the end of communist rule and censorship that closed 1989 gave way to the sobering reality of standing up for your beliefs, and Deana publicly defended federal interests, supporting a unified Czechoslovakia oriented policy. As Slovakia's aspirations for independence strengthened in the early '90s, Deana and her husband, director Juraj Jakubisko, moved to Bohemia and she left behind the theatre, a successful dubbing career and a catalogue of more than 60 roles in television films and series.
She admits her personal and artistic development has been dominated by two directors: in theatre Milos Pietor and in cinema her husband Juraj Jakubisko. In their first film together in 1989, Sedim na konari a je mo dobre (Sitting Pretty on a Branch), Jakubisko cast Deana in the role of Zelmira, the naïve, fanatical CSSR Youth Movement Member symbolizing the horrors of the political machinery of the 1950's. In their next film, Lepsie byt bohaty a zdravy ako chudobny a chory (It's Better to be Wealthy and Healthy than Poor and Ill), Deana played a completely different character, the non-conformist photographer Nona trying to find her place in life in the chaotic period following the fall of the totalitarian regime. In Jakubisko's visually lavish Nejasna zprava o konci sveta (An Ambiguous Report about the End of the World), Deana was involved as a producer and as the female lead Verona in the feature film version and the television series of the same title.
Horvathova began her producing career at the end of her 1993-94 season at Prague's Divadlo Theatre where she played in the adaptation of B. Hrabal's book Prilis hlucna samota (A Solitude Too Loud), Durennmat's Meteor and Mrozek's Tango. At this time she professionally assumed the double name Jakubiskova-Horvathova and established a joint company with her husband, director Juraj Jakubisko, to produce and distribute the director's films, as well as a variety of others. In this new role she was afforded a level of creative collaboration that more closely mirrored what she loved and missed about stage acting, "where you are a true partner with the director," reflects Deana. "As a film producer you are invested in the director's vision," says Deana who confirms the delicate balance in the producer-wife/director-husband scenario that would be impossible to manage without her acting background.
Their first production, An Ambiguous Report…, received four Czech Lions in 1998 for best music score, best sound, best editing and best actress in a supporting role. The film screened at 60 film festivals around the world, where it also received numerous awards, including at the Montreal, San Diego and Denver film festivals.
From a repeatedly rejected screenplay based on Karel Jaromir Erben's poetic ballads, Deana produced the box office hit, Kytice (Wild Flowers). The film, director Frantisek Brabec's homage in seven parts to Erben's work, has been seen by approximately 750,000 filmgoers and won four Czech Lions in 2000 for best cinematography, best music score, best sound and for best film poster, an original creation by Juraj Jakubisko. The film received a nomination in the Best Film category, but Deana feels her greatest contribution was to influence the views of what constitutes a 'saleable' film. "Half of your success is having a good film, the other half is good distribution," she says. "I proved that we don't have to make thoughtless commercial fare. We are able to present high quality poetry that is also a success at the box office."
The couple's 2004 production Post Coitum is a bittersweet comedy starring Franco Nero and a gallery of couples looking for love in all the wrong places.
In 2005 Deana began pre-production on the four-country co-production Bathory, director Jakubisko's $14 million historic thriller based on the life of 16th century murderess, the Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory. The film stars Anna Friel, Karel Roden, Hans Matheson, Vincent Regan and Franco Nero, and shot over a seven month period in classified castles throughout Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
In addition to overseeing the post-production and distribution of Bathory, Deana is working on issuing a complete filmography of Juraj Jakubisko's work on DVD, as well as continuing a traveling retrospective of the director's previous feature films and artwork that has already been seen over 30 cities throughout the world. South Korea and Rome are scheduled to receive the retrospective in 2007.