Ioana Mischie: Dear Csaba, we loved having you here, we loved all the beautiful film-related enriching discussions, the thought-provoking debates and your care for discovering pure and innovative fragments of cinema in a selection of student films. But now, let’s get back to our Breaking Ground business. Tell me how hard is to be part of the jury for deciding the best student films and what criterias do you take in consideration? Is the story that matters the most, the visual composition, the editing innovativeness, or rather the film as a whole?
Csaba Bollók: When I’m watching a movie I try to forget about everything else. Then I am reminded that I’m also in a jury and we have to make some decisions in the end. I try to keep off some disturbing professional points of views, such as going for perfection, and the like. I’m open to free spirit, open to follow stories according to the rules that each movie defines for itself. I appreciate when a work is uncompromising, if there’s a truth in it, or when it lets me discover things in a slow-paced, quiet way. I think I appreciate the most when I’m confronted with real observations and knowledge about how things happen or how they really are in life and of course, when this experience is told by a revealing, personal visual language.
I.M.: Did you find any memorable and inspirational character, dialogue, or situation from the films screened at Cinemaiubit film festival? If yes, can you describe it?
C.B.: I liked some of the movies that didn’t receive a prize like „Snow White” or „7 Sharp”. As of the actresses I will remember Ioana Manciu, she indeed was awared, and the cool acting of Lia Bugnar in „Titan”. You ask me about something special, so… I liked the ending scene of „Drops”, the scene with the father and the water coming. I will also remember „Guided Tour”. This poetic movie about Jerusalem was my favourite one as it was a work that could put me in a mood for meditation about life. This movie had a small fan club in the jury but finally the Italian short, „My Bow Breathing” - a sexually abused young woman bows down all men, naked – overtook. What else could we, men of the jury do than surrender?
I.M.: Do you have any regrets regarding this year’s Cinemaiubit Film Festival edition?
C.B.: I would be happy to come again to Bucharest at this time of the year. It is a lively festival with a lot of enthusiasm in the air. I liked the idea that celluloid works and digital movies competed in seperate categories because their potentials can be really different. I liked that Cinemaiubit was open to the public, and the gentle hospitality of the festival makers, especially Doru Nitescu, the vice dean but all people from the Caragiale.
I.M.: What would be your answer for Jean Renoir’s question „Qu’est ce que le cinema?”
C.B.: My answer to Renoir is, „la grande illusion”.
Seriously, it’s an absolutely great question and every filmmaker has to answer this for himself or herself. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? As for me, making movies, this form of art… I can see it as a windmill, or today, a wind power plant that works with the energy coming from our collective knowledge and especially, our subconscious, and that is able to transform this power and distribute it for individual usage all over the world.
Thanks for this question because I like the metaphor I’ve just invented for you, „le cinema” like windmills that keep on rolling in each countries, not only in Holland. They are here to give and take, they are resources of our spiritual life.
I.M.: How important do you think there are film festivals for an aspiring filmmaker? Should a prize of a film festival be considered a goal in itself, or it is rather „the road that matters, not the destination”?
C.B.: Festivals are about watching movies that you wouldn’t see otherwise and about meeting people that you probably wouldn’t meet. Festivals are especially important for they throw lights to works that commercial movie business tends to ignore. Tends? It does ignore. So it is the joy, the pride and the responsibility of festival makers to invite movies, social minded and groundbreaking, visually daring works that otherwise wouldn’t make it to the audiences. So they are not the end of the road but part of the exchange of emotions and ideas between people and cultures. And that is most crucial for small cultures as we are.
I.M.: „Iska’s Journey” is a film that we simply adored, when it was screened last year in our school, for its local flavour, powerful story, and for the rare expresiveness of the characters. You succeeded to capture the „small wonders” that you often talk about to your students. Who and what inspires you as a filmmaker?
C.B.: Faces. Lights. Places.
Strange enough, it is not the stories that inspire me first but faces, personalities that carry their stories. I’ve always found exciting when a character is getting into motion, when the truth of the inner self tries to hide and when it appears in the eyes. Through filming of these appearences, it is „the inner light” that I’m searching for in my movies. Whether it is that of the character or that of the universe, it’s all the same. „We are such stuff as dreams are made on”.
In „Iska’s Journey” I was inspired by Maria Varga, a streetkid from the Jiu Valley whom I’ve known for years before giving her the main role. Although this is quite a dark movie, there is an everpresent light in Iska’s eyes that comes from her innate dignity and understanding of her situation. After making the movie Maria was able to keep her self-identity in a world that was glamorous and completely unknown to her. At the movie’s Oscar campaign she has become a „Talent On The Rise” in Variety and she didn’t give a damn, just laughed about it. She’s been raising two babies since then.
I.M.: Can you please name three films that one should see, for the way they challenge our inner selves as both spectators and filmmakers?
C.B. Yes, from recent years: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel), You, the Living (Roy Andersson), The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr).
Some from cinema history: The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice), Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky), works by John Cassavetes.
There are other „possible threes”. Anyone remembers Alain Tanner’s Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000? What a heartwarming, lovely movie! You see, I could go on…
Next week, part #2!