Interview: director Tina Adams on Hotel Limbo and My Wacko Parents
Tina Adams (Martina Adamcova) is a Canadian actress who has worked with talents such as Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnic), and Juraj Herz (The Passage, Black Barons). She is an active member of ACTRA and the Union des Artistes. She is appreciated for her versatility, her talent as an actress and her authentic acting. Tina works in four different languages and her career is international. She started in 1992 as a rule breaker on a post-communist television screen in her hometown of Prague (Games without borders) and became an established and recognized world-class performer (french kiss, The perfect kiss, Limbo Hotel, Muzzikanti, world of trouble). For this interview, Adams talks to us about her recent directorial endeavors, comedies Limbo Hotel and My wacky parents both featuring rising actress Lucie Vondrácková.
Jason: So, just to start, I was wondering if you could just talk about how you grew up?
Tina Adams: I grew up in a communist country, Czechoslovakia, so I know what the oppression was, and I feel for people who still live in those kinds of systems. We are happy because in North America we live in freedom. I had a great childhood, my family was very loving and understanding, I had everything a child could want, so I’m very family oriented. I grew up in Prague, which is a magical city full of mysteries, beautiful architecture. Today, I live in Canada. Interesting.
Jason: What brought you to your career path?
Tina Adams: I was born to entertain, and I did everything to entertain around me, I like to invent stories. I see humor in everything, including deaths and taxes. So there is no discrepancy that I belong in the entertainment.
Jason: Can you tell us the funniest mistake you made in your career, and what did you learn from it?
Tina Adams: I make mistakes every day, and sometimes they’re fun, and sometimes they cost you. There is always a price to pay for mistakes. So you better take it as a lesson taught to you. I’m happy to keep doing something in my life because if you stop, you don’t make mistakes. One thing I learned here in Canada is that Canadians showed me how to apologize. We always say, ‘oh, I’m sorry but, in other parts of the planet, to say that people see that as a weakness. They do everything in their power not to admit they made a mistake, and it’s exhausting. It’s not weak.
Jason: Can you tell us about your two projects, Limbo Hotel and My crazy parents?
Tina Adams: So I’m releasing two films – both are romantic comedies. One is called Limbo Hotel and the other is called My Crazy Parents. I decided to do romantic comedies or comedies with a romance if you want to put it that way. I received cinematography awards, my actress received one in Dublin, one in London as best actress. I was named best director. We went to France with one of these comedies, and we won best comedy. So it’s gratifying to see that people actually want to watch these movies. These are pure entertainment. They are just a joyful invitation to spend 80-90 minutes in good company, watching with nice people, good actors, beautiful people, beautiful places. I have been so blessed with places here in Canada. It’s incredible. You know, the country is so beautiful.
Jason: Are you looking for the same thing as when you choose to plan for the realization?
Tina Adams: No, these are two different things. When you act, you actually become someone else. You have to change physically, you have to change your behavior, the way you speak. Everything has to be different, you have to start thinking like your character. When you’re writing or directing it’s totally different because you’re yourself and you’re really trying to push your team members to your vision because when you’re directing the movie only exists in your head. I very often close my eyes when I explain to my collaborators what I want them to achieve with me because I see my scene, my sequence, how I edit it, so I know what I need.
Jason: When you first started directing, were you at all intimidated by the time industry?
Tina Adams: I’m independent, so I started directing because I didn’t have the money to pay a director who had a film. And so I was talking to a couple famous people, and they said, ‘Okay, I cost $1,200 a day. I was like, Oh my god, so you know what? I will be the director. The first night I didn’t sleep before going on set, I was so scared. I thought, ‘what am I doing? I’m crazy.’ I arrived on set and I was prepared, and I just said “action”. Since that moment I was, I have completely changed. It was my ocean. I belong there. This is where I could swim. I can’t stop anymore. I always play in my films, very small roles. I hate acting and it’s not my thing. I love directing because you really express yourself.
Jason: What do you think of the representation of diversity in film and television?
Tina Adams: It’s a good question. My movie, My wacky parents is a comedy and I have movie deals here in Canada to show it and I have distribution deals with Amazon Prime. Telefilm Canada really supports filmmakers, where we make it a priority to include women and First Nations filmmakers. My distributor is actually a First Nation, and I didn’t choose him because of that. It’s actually a miracle you’re making a move that can go to the movies today it’s mostly in Toronto, and I hope here in Quebec I actually wrote an open letter advocating for inclusion people like my distributor. It’s good that the industry wants to include us. But when you open the book, it’s written on the first page, and then you go to the chapter that excludes you. So how do you include us if you don’t change the program? I am pleading right now to add their films produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada, or distributed by First Nations or having a director as a woman which will be a real inclusion.
Jason: Do you like working in Canada?
Tina Adams? I love it because first of all, the workforce here is really competent. Second, there are so many topics, there are so many stories around. For example, the movie Limbo Hotel came from the situation where many people were illegally crossing the border between the United States and Canada, because they were fleeing the politics of Donald Trump, and you see these incredible images of people arriving with their suitcases dragging them on the snow. It is an image that initiated something. So I imagined the story of a girl, Diana (Lucie Vondrácková) who arrives in Canada to inherit a hotel in Montreal, and she thinks she is the next Paris Hilton. And when she arrives, she discovers that she has in fact inherited a hotel in the village, but it is cited by refugees who are waiting there for some kind of status. There are so many things around me. For example, My wacky parents is actually a more wintry Christmas thing. This is the first generation, people from Eastern Europe. And how overbearing Jewish mothers can be, and of course that comes from my background. It’s very easy for me, so I laugh with me. I’m just having fun.
Jason: So, what projects are you currently working on?
Tina Adams: Oddly enough to completely change the genre. I am in post-production of a film which is quite a story. It’s a documentary called Hidden identity about a professor who was teaching, and he’s an immunology researcher and gentlemen humans, here at McGill University, and when he was 60, he got a letter saying, you know, you’re living a luxurious life at Canada as a researcher and almost nominated for the Nobel Prize, and the person who saved your life lives in misery, and you are not what you think you are. So it’s a real story. He was saved by an SS soldier from Ukraine when he was just a Jewish child. And that as a soldier put it in his backpack.
Another project concerns history. There is a part of New York that is destroyed. And this is Harlem. And along with all these ugly buildings, they’re also destroying all the buildings that are important to black cultures, like the place where Louis Armstrong was giving his concert, where Malcolm X was killed, those buildings, and so this project is pretty much the last chance to see them. Of course, there is a movement to protect these buildings. It is a very interesting subject.
Jason: How can readers follow you online?
Tina Adams: Instagram is Tina Adams. Most of the information can be found on the distributor’s website, which is 7 Dissemination of works of art.
Jason: Thanks for talking to us.
Tina Adams: Thanks for asking me. It’s very rewarding to talk about my work and what I live for. I really appreciate that.