An Encounter With Young European Filmmakers
EFA Conference 2006

Cinema of Tomorrow (Picture: Andreas Böhmig)

Cinema of Tomorrow (Picture: Andreas Böhmig)

Moderated by British film critic and author Peter Cowie, the EFA Conference 2006 focused on the reality of filmmaking for young directors - where do their inspirations come from, how did they get started, what are the challenges, problems and advantages they are facing? In two sessions, the young filmmakers - all of them have just completed or are currently working on their first feature film - discussed the issues that shape the reality they work in.


JASMILA ŽBANIC´ : I lived in Sarajevo in a Socialist quarter with a
cinema showing partisan films, Socialist propaganda films and
some B productions, melodramas and so on and as kids we were
in that cinema very often so I must have been inspired by really
bad films in the early days. I remember one particular [film] where
the whole cinema was crying, women were taking napkins from
their purses and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, it’s magic - something
is happening on screen and all people in the cinema are crying.’
I remember that was something I thought I would like to do,
to have people laugh, to have people cry, to have this strong connection
with the audience just by putting images there.

DANI ROSENBERG: I think the best influence I had was an Israeli
director, one of the masters at school, David Perlov, he’s a documentarist
and I saw his film DIARY when I was very young. He shot
it over ten years, his family and his surroundings, and I think this
film really gave me a love of cinema.

ÁGNES KOCSIS: I just wanted to make my films. I didn’t want to
continue or to finish a tradition. Actually, when I was in secondary
school, there were a lot of film clubs I attended through school
so I started with these films from the 60’s. I watched everything,
I didn’t distinguish so much between the things I liked, everything
seemed to be wonderful. And afterwards did I realise more what
I liked better or less.


IVONA JUKA: Croatia is a very small country and only very few
movies are produced, about four or five films, so it’s a really small
amount and it’s really hard to be one of them. A film needs to
screen non-stop for 13 years in all cinemas in Croatia to break at
zero, thirteen years, all cinemas always sold out, to get the money
back. So, in Croatia it is impossible to make a commercially
successful film.

SŁAWOMIR FABICKI: I won a lot of prizes for my short film A MAN
THING. I thought, ‘Okay, I’m great, I’m a god.’ Now I have to make
my first feature film. But I had to wait five years. The problem
wasn’t on my side. I met a French producer in Paris and he said,
‘Okay, I give you the money but I have the right to choose the main
actor, the DOP, and I have the right to the final cut.’ And of course
I didn’t accept those conditions - it was awful for me. So, I came
back to Poland and started to look for a Polish producer. And the
problem was money.


JASMILA: With every film, short or documentary, I had the feeling
that I am getting one step ahead and with GRBAVICA, I had
the feeling that with all this experience from short films and documentaries,
I had matured enough to start fiction. When I started
my production company, I really felt I’m not ready for a fiction film.
I studied during the war so we didn’t have electricity to watch films,
we didn’t have the means to shoot films, so I really said, ‘Okay,
I’m now going into experimenting and reaching some things I felt
I was lacking.’ So, each film somehow helped me to learn.

ÁGNES: It’s very important to learn this profession but you learn
by doing. So you can’t really make a feature film right after film
school, you have to do a lot of things before. The other thing is
that you have to understand the whole process in your mind, you
have to find yourself, your way. And personally I prefer that the
film school gives you the opportunity to learn the technical aspects
and also gives you maybe an overview of film history and film
theory so that you will be able to express what is inside you, so
that the technique won’t be an obstacle.


ILYA KHRZANOVSKY: In Russia people love money or they hate
money. And there’s nothing in between. People who love money
hate people who hate money and people who hate money hate
people who love money. And Moscow is not Russia, it’s a completely
different world, very rich, very special, very, very expensive. And of
course people who make movies also want to be in this expensive
and rich life. And that’s a problem.

SLAWOMIR: I would like to make films and I would like to also
make money - because directing is my job. But I always try to think
about the audience. That doesn’t mean thinking about the boxoffice,
you know.


DANI : If you make short films, this [a festival] is the only place -
except for television - where people can actually see these films
and you can really get to a big audience. My short films screened
at some festivals and it’s a bigger audience than at any small arthouse
cinema in Israel. But it’s like perfume, it’s nice to smell it.
But you cannot drink it. It’s just short films.

ÁGNES: I think it depends on what kind of film you have made.
FRESH AIR is not an easy film to watch. We had some screenings
outside Cannes, to the local audience, and we had some Q&As after
the film and I think that they liked it. And I was really surprised
because I thought it was going to be more difficult for the audience
and I realised that it wasn’t.


ÁGNES: I think it is a bit dangerous, this pan-European production
which is not going to be credible in any country. And I think if I
do something that is credible in my own culture, you can feel that
there is coherence in it. So, I think it’s going to be understandable
everywhere in the world because you can feel that it’s something
honest and credible. But if you try to do something for everybody,
that’s going to be for nobody.

DANI : Well, my new film is in Jiddish, a language that is slowly
dying, and I think what’s very important is that we all make our
films in our language. Because we fight for our culture and in this
fight we are starting to loose, most films are now English-language


ÁGNES: I prohibited the dubbing of my film. I hate dubbing, it
really ruins a film. It changes the sound. If you work with original
sound, it’s really impossible to do the sound well so it destroys
the whole sound creation you have made.

JASMILA: My film was dubbed in Germany and that’s how it is in
most German cinemas. And I couldn’t watch it, not even for five
minutes. I went out of the cinema.

ILYA: In the Soviet Union, films were always voiced over. There
were two translators, two guys, they weren’t actors but everybody
knew their voices. And they translated everything, an American
movie, a Godard movie, a Wim Wenders movie, and action movies.
All the time it was the same voices. And I think it is a really good idea
because for my movie it is not possible to dub it and subtitles take
attention. Voice-over is a good possibility for sound and picture.


MARCIN PIECZONKA: When you have this digital technology, it has
such a wide spectrum. And sometimes I just don’t feel any material,
it’s not like I have produced a shoe, or a chair, something I can
touch. I only have zeros and ones. And sometimes you also loose
the discipline when you’re shooting. When you have digital [technology],
you can shoot anything and sometimes it leads to thinking
that you don’t have to be that precisely prepared anymore.

XAVERY ZUŁAWSKI: I think it’s a matter of approach. The problem
with digital is that we can treat it as a tool, we can shoot whatever,
and then cut whatever, and of course it can be a nice film. But if
you want to shoot a film, a film as we know it, working with light,
with the camera position, the look of the actor - shooting with
digital [equipment] doesn’t change that, you still need to work with
light, camera position, and so on. So you can really shoot something
that will be very, very similar to a film stock movie. But, as
Marcin was saying, it’s very hard to make the people who work
for you understand that this is very important. Actors seeing such
a small camera feel they can try a hundred times, for one hour.
It has something to do with the discipline, the respect, the thing
in our mind that makes shooting a holy process, makes the camera
a holy thing - it’s difficult to give an HD camera this kind of holy

HOLGER: You make a religion out of celluloid. I mean, I love celluloid
but at the same time it’s not going to change the way you
tell a story. If you say that just because you shoot digitally it will
look documentary-style or cheap style, that’s not true. What you
get out of digital has to do with you and your crew, how prepared
you are when you get to a set. And the whole discussion will be
over in ten years anyway because we will all have gone digital by

JOKE LIBERGE: I’m already trying to adjust and to understand. And
it is exactly about this. Of course, you can say that it’s good to
have your film on the internet and more people can see it. But
it’s about me as a creative person who has to understand a new
medium that maybe will mean a different way of filming, maybe
the whole process is going to change, maybe a completely different
way of storytelling is going to come out of this. And I find it difficult
to position yourself within this.


ROGER GUAL: I think the important thing is to get the message
through, to get the story to the audience. You want your film to
be seen by many people and that is the important issue. In Europe,
we should be sharing films. In Spain, we just don’t get films from
Italy, from Portugal.

JOKE: I just think that the films that will be made from here within
ten years, with the knowledge of them being shown on smaller
screens, will of course change. It’s all about the experience and
when you see a 35mm film in the cinema it is a completely different
experience than when you see it on small screen.

XAVERY: We are directors, we should follow our imagination, our
heart, and how we want to do the movie. We cannot speculate
thinking I’m going to shoot it very small because it’s going to be
on the internet. This is not the idea. If you have an idea, you think
the problem you are dealing with is good for a certain way of storytelling
or filming. And you go for it. There are many ways of shooting
a film but it has to be appropriate to the problem you are talking about.
Maybe we just love moving images and maybe we’re going to do
stream movies that never end, like projecting images from the other
side of the world to the metro. But that has no poetry, no feelings
and ideas expressed.

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The EFA Conference 2006 was organised in co-operation with the Polish Filmmakers Association.

Thanks to: German Federal Film Board (FFA), Jaguar, MEDIA Plus Programme of the EU and the German State Minister of Culture and the Media