Experiencing Interruptions?

The Lesson

When two teenage girls plot to steal liquor for themselves, their plan goes awry when they visit their old piano teacher who's developed dementia.

  • Marielle Heydt
  • Holly M. Kaplan
  • Mariana Empis
  • Holly M. Kaplan
  • Mariana Empis
  • Alzbeta Nollova
  • Tereza Vejvodová
    Key Cast
  • Estelle Roger
    Key Cast
    Crime Scene: Pilsen
  • Eva Kozderkova
    Key Cast
    Vinari, Doktori z Pocátku
  • Holly M. Kaplan
  • Mariana Empis
  • Matej Chrudina
    Three Cigs
  • Anastasia Antonova
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 32 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 9, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Czech Republic
  • Country of Filming:
    Czech Republic
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - FAMU International
  • Canada Shorts International Film Festival
    Award of Commendation
  • Glendale International Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    October 19, 2017
    Official Selection
  • Cooties Zine Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    October 19, 2019
    Audience Favorite
Director Biography - Marielle Heydt, Holly M. Kaplan, Mariana Empis

Marielle Heydt is from Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Vassar College. She met both the writer and producer for The Lesson while studying at the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague. Marielle has experience acting and directing in theatre. She is an aspiring director and the director of The Lesson.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I made this film as part of a class at FAMU in Prague. Coming into the film, one of my main goals was to try and portray something real in the city; so often film students end up creating works that take place outside of any real location and take on a fantastic quality. And it would have been easy in a historic, beautiful city like Prague to make a film with a storybook quality, or evoke a vacation spot, or focus on the experience of the expat American trying to navigate a foreign space. Instead, I focused on themes that transcended our differences from our Czech characters; I looked at friendships between women, especially teenage friendships where girls try to fit in while also making important decisions regarding their inner selves. I know I have been in many situations where I have had to decide whether I was going to keep trying to fight for a friendship or stick to the moral path I wanted to follow. Theft was also a big subject for me as I was working on our idea, the ways in which immorality can become necessity, when we choose our desires with the knowledge that it is transgressing boundaries and hurting others in the process, and the strange way in which a thief might feel connected to their victim through their personal items. Dementia and aging factored in later to my film, but as I had to try and face the difficulties of portraying this disability realistically and sympathetically, I realized how much we wanted to stick with it and try and make sense of it, especially in memory of the loved ones I’ve had who have slowly faded away from me.

It is so rare to get the opportunity as an undergraduate student to make your own films at the level of quality I was afforded at FAMU--I was given a huge amount of support from their graduate students, along with professors supervising heavily for quality control. I really tried to take advantage of that by creating a challenging work, one that wasn’t written with the limitations of a small budget in mind. Even though there were many elements of my film that ended up taking a lot of ingenuity and a bit of luck, from making a film in a language I barely spoke, to including a music lesson on an instrument I didn’t play, to filming in public locations around Prague, I never regretted challenging myself with these elements. - Marielle Heydt