POSIBLE film festival January 2005 / Interview by Francesc Gelonch and
Francesc Gelonch and Tatjana Stankovic were talking with Fred Kelemen
in Barcelona on 24th December 2004 on the occasion of a retrospective
of his work at the POSIBLE film festival in January 2005:
- In your films you talk about marginalization, immigration, fate. To
what extent is it a concrete historical reflection or is it rather an
insight into the human condition?
The films talk of about both of these aspects, the inside internal one
as well as the external outside one. First, we are living in a time where
when many people don't live where they are were born, where their language
and culture belong belongs to and their culture. They have the fate of
being alienated, the fate of being immigrants. That’s something,
a lot of people experience these days because of for many reasons. We
are living in a nomadic time. The feeling of being a stranger, of being
a foreigner, is a global phenomenon phenomena.
Second, if we look at our existence more from the internal inside aspect,
we all know this feeling of being a stranger even if we are not foreigners
in a country. The feeling of loneliness, the feeling of separation of
the other one of being separated from others is a very basic human feeling.
Our individualityzation has to be paid for with this feeling of deep loneliness.
And I think that everybody has sometimes has this feeling that they are
he is not at home on this earth. According to the Islamic mystics our
souls are in exile in this the material world. They are not at home. And
we never stop wandering around and looking for happiness. The human being
is a nomadic creature and a melancholic one which who knows about death
and the transience of every existence but we have a big problems to accept
accepting it. That makes us walking around and looking for escape and
salvation in something that seems to be stable. In the Bible, there is
a very interesting image given for of the human being and the angels.
The human being is always walking, the angel is always standing. The angels
rest in themselves, they are at home inside themselves. We are not.
And third, if we watch look at the world around us, the cities, the shopping
centres , apartment houses, factories, offices etc., we are even foreigners
even in our own world, in the world, we have created looking for stability.
A world, which imprisons us. We suffer, we are unhappy, there is a lot
of pain, ugliness and poison around us which had has been and is being
created by us. The human being itself himself is a foreigner in its his
own world. And thus, I would say, the films talk about the fate of alienation,
the fate of being an immigrant, on a political and social level, but also
on a metaphysical level. -
- How much is this linked to your biography, your personal experience
or the history of your family?
My mother’s family comes from Hungary, but I am was born and grown
grew up in West--Berlin. One part of my family was never was there, so
when I was a little boy I had to understand why they were not there and
kept on living in Hungary. This was difficult to understand and it was
difficult to explain it to others. And it was a strange thing for them
because of for two reasons: First because the members of this part of
my family were foreigners and second because they were living in the East
eastern part of Europe behind the Iron Curtain. When I was very young,
it was irritating for me to see that, for example, my class-mates’
grand-parents were all living in the same city but not mine not, and I
had to explain to them that they were not German and that they were from
the East. Maybe it comes from this fact and other experiences and backgrounds
that I was from a very early age sensitive to foreigners, outsiders etc.
Besides some problems, it gave me something, what that now I understand
to be as being a good thing – the ability look at both parts of
the world with quite realistic eyes. I never had the naive view of Eastern
Europeans to of the West, believing that everything is wonderful and golden
and nice there, but I also never had this arrogance and ignorance of the
Western people concerning the East. I know both sides parts. I travelled
a lot, in both parts of Europe, so maybe that is one thing which is a
very personal reason why I'm doing making the films I'm doing making.
- Already In your debut feature, "Fate", there is already a
sort of indissoluble relation between hope and despair. Is that a personal
reaction against to the "utopic cinema" of big promises, spectacular
and happy endings?
I think there is an indissoluble relation between hope and despair, but
on the other hand they require need each other. There is no real hope
as a strong, passionate and creating creative energy if there is no despair,
if there is not the deep feeling of being lost. If we are afraid of the
bottomless feeling of despair, we never will experience the burning, imperturbable
feeling of hope. Both are inscrutable. If you do not have the courage
to loose leave the ground, you will never fly.
But I think, there is no solution in to the relation between hope and
reality. The gap between what we hope, what we are looking and longing
for and reality creates a kind of sadness, even despair. And these things,
most often, don't have a solution. The Tthings are not as we want them
to be. And we do not have the courage to look straight into the face of
reality and to change them. We prefer to dream the world imprisoned in
our own illusions. But there are moments when we have to wake up, when
something shocks us and our dream-world gets a rent crack through which
we can see the reality. These moments make us sad. But these are moments
of truth. This kind of despair is somehow the result of our own ideas
about reality. Maybe we expect too much, we want too much, we dream too
much. If you have the strength to look to at what is really happens happening,
then the possibility of being disappointed is not so big. If we would
see were to see what is going on around, we would not be so desperate.
But we are always disappointed because we don't want to see what is really
is going on, and we hope a lot, we hope things would will be different.
But they are not. And then for sure the sadness and despair come for sure.
And that's why there is no solution. The only solution would be to end
up stop the dreaming. I mean dreaming in the negative way of having illusions,
of building constructions of life instead of living. We even have illusions
of about ourselves. But we do not know ourselves. We are permanently with
us but permanently miss us. We do not know who we are. We do not know
who our partner is, our friend, our child. And that is why there is just
so there is simply a conflict between what we hope and what is really
is going on.
I know that cinema comes nowadays with the idea that we have to have a
solution and that it has to have a happy end very good, but it is something
which did not always exist since always. If you look back to other films,
like, for example, neo-realist films, they do not have a happy ending,
there is no solution at the end. I think this kind of solution you talk
about is fake, it is cinema, but it has nothing to do with life. There
is no final solution in life. Because if there was would be a final solution,
it would be the end of everything, it would be apocalyptic. But life continues
goes on, so the fights and the contradictions continue.
- Though, But you didn’t lose contact with that reflexive contemporary
cinema that risks to wake the waking people up to the daily problems and
troubles they have.
For me it was always important that film does not lose its contact to
contemporary life. I think that even if I would make were to make a fairy-tale,
it has to do with would have to be about our life nowadays, because I
am living now and I only can communicate now to with the people who are
living live now. So it would have to have has to have some relation to
my life and to people's life. I think, basically, if we go very deep inside
ourselves, we're not different from anybody else. Human problems are the
same everywhere. The drama is the same everywhere. And for me it is very
important to talk about this, to try to put shed light on these questions,
not for giving to give answers, because I don't have any answers, but
to ask maybe some questions which could stimulate somebody to look for
answers in another direction. I don't think that you can change something
anything with a film, you even cannot even give answers, that's very clear
for to me. But you can maybe stimulate the sensitiveness sensitivity and
thinking and put a focus on aspects that are maybe mostly out of the focus,
which is also a critical aspect, because for sure the mass-media certainly
don’t doesn't want to touch certain points, it doesn't they don’t
want people to think about certain points, but cinema should. And that
should be the big difference between media and cinema as an art. Because
I deeply believe that art should not go the easy way, but should maybe
go the painful way to stimulate the sensitiveness sensitivity to for the
important questions. What I would call important questions are the ones
which have to do with our existence.
- Another subtle and extraordinarily shocking aspect in your films is
are the a strong family feelings (that have to do with genealogy, identity)
and that is not so common in cinema but is quite relevant and troubling
in our ordinary lives.
We are not living in a vacuum, we are always part of relationships and
these relationships are important. People have relationships with other
people. And these relationships are very often dominated or driven by
violence. Violence is a very important aspect if we talk about relationships,
partnerships or family. We are not living in paradise, so we are not peaceful,
tender animals who only love each other, we are very much beasts - people
kill people, people steal, people betray, people lie, etc. Especially
in strong relationships like families, there is a lot of violence and
fear. In my film FROST for example, I show this family violence of the
family. As well as between couples, even between people who seem to love
each other, there is violence. An interesting thing is - according to
statistics I read some time ago – that the most of the killing doesn't
happen between people who do not know each other, the most of those killings
happen between people who know each other. We don't have to be so much
afraid of somebody we do not know. But between friends dangerous tensions
can be created. A relationship between people is a very strong thing,
there are strong energies going on, and for sure these strong energies
can undoubtedly also lead to terrible violence and destruction. That's
an aspect which you cannot exclude when you talk about relationships and
In this context, I think what we should talk about is are stories. What
is a story? I believe that stories are not just there. They happen because
of the people who act. At the moment, somebody is acting, doing something,
he starts to create a story, fragments of stories. And the story is just
a result of the person's behaviour. The things that happen to you would
not happen to me because you are different from me. Even though basically,
in a very deep sense point, we would experience the same, because these
feelings I talked about, like the feelings of loneliness, fear etc. are
basically the same. I believe in these fields of energy between people,
which has to do with relations between people, people in relation to other
people - and then the stories happen. For me it is always very important
to understand, in life in general but also when I write a script or when
I develop a script with others, not so much what the story is, but what
the relationships between the people are, what do they want from each
other, what do they do with each other. Not wWhat happens is not so important,
but what it is doing does to you- that's the important thing.
- In one sense, the most important of these universal dramatic stories
has to do with timeless human stories, but it seems that loneliness, isolation,
incommunication are increasing in our times, that you are describing a
sort of situation.
Basically, we are alone. Everybody is alone. But if you live in familiar
family relationships which work, like in much earlier times, then this
loneliness can be maybe softer, you are carried by relationships, even
though they are never free of violence. If you're surrounded by people
you trust, your loneliness doesn't come to a point where it's so painful
as it is in modern society. Because in modern societies people are not
surrounded by this atmosphere of confidence which existed in old family
structures. I think that our time, the 20th century, was the age of the
masses, it was really the beginning of the idea of the mass, of big movements
of people, mass-industry, mass-media, and so on. But at in the end it
led to the 21st century’s extreme loneliness. The period of mass
could have led to two things:
In a positive way - to solidarity, and in negative way to terrible alienation
and loneliness. And I don't see that it leads to more solidarity, but
to more alienation, to more fighting one against the other, also because
the economic pressures are getting stronger.
- This feeling of loneliness is quite important in your films, that goes
with a slow tempo, the main role of images and an atmospheric silence,
with not much presence of words and dialogues. What about those formal
leit-motifs that you sometimes use in a sort of symbolic way, repeatedly.
In "Frost", throughout the film, you are using use fire as an
element, bulbs, bonfires, fireworks, or candles, that are normally linked
to hope. Could you talk about symbolism in your films?
First, for sure, I think that film is a language, but it is a visual language.
You have to read it the images. I don't believe so much in words in cinema.
For a book it is okay to use words, but in the art of film the tool for
expressing or for telling something should be images, because it is a
visual art. The language is being there only if it's really necessary,
but it does not have a deep meaning. Normally people do not talk so much
and are not so articulated as like we see it in films. I think the basic
information, the basic feeling and even the philosophy of the film should
be in the images, not in the words. It should show the things and not
talk about them. It is important for me to show something, or to let it
happen, rather than to talk talking about it. Maybe also because of the
television and the mass-media, we are more used to talk about life than
to live, but I think in film and in life it has to be different.
About the timing - I don't know if it's slow, or not just as fast as
"normal" films. I think our life is not much faster. I just
try to avoid the editing for dynamising the film structure with editing.
In my films the dynamic doesn’t come from that is not given by the
editing, it comes from is given by the scene itself, from by the movement
of the camera, the rhythm of the actors, the whole choreography of the
For me, the editing, the cut, is really the last last chance possibility.
Let's say editing is for cowards. You do not really need it. We can have
a close-up by with a camera movement, there is no need to edit. There
is an incredible inflation of editing in films. Most of the time, when
I watch a films, I don't know why there is a cut now, it's just because
it has to be there, or people believe it has to be, but I don’t
think it doesn't have has to be. It is a question of what you want and
what film is for you. What is interesting for me is the aspect of observation,
to observe the people, to observe the characters, to observe life, and
for this you should have to watch and should not look away, and should
not jump, you just have to should keep fix your eye on what is happening
and stay with it. It somehow is an obsession, it is the obsession of observers
observants, but it is precisely the voyeuristic aspect of cinema - to
look, not to look away. It is the way, children observe the world, as
well. If somebody has to walk from A to B, I (the camera) really walk
with him from A to B, and I do not just show that he is at A, and then
jump and show that he is at B. Because for me the way is the important
thing. Not A, nor B, but the way, the person needs to go from A to B is
exactly what I want to show and see. That is why I use this kind of different
speed in my films. Also, I believe that if you observe something carefully
and long enough, the things start to transform. The physical time transforms
into metaphysical time and we start to touch a secret of life. To experience
the mystery of time, you have to be patient, you have do drop your expectations
and prejudices and speculative mental constructions, you have to open
yourself and just look and listen, just be in the moment and its flow.
A film is not like the news on TV where you just get information. So it
is not important for me to give just informations. The important thing
is that the something happens. So, when we talk about the way from A to
B, for me it is not important to give the information: “And now
he is was walking from A to B”. For me the important thing is that
the audience walks with the character, with the camera, from A to B. It
is a physical question for me, that it really physically happens, that
we experience it, experience the way, it has really to be done in the
film, and not just given as the information that he walked.
Concerning symbols: There are no symbols in the films, there is are no
symbols in any film, I did made. The fire is just fire, it's warm, it
gives light, it can also destroy – it is just the question of how
you use it. What happens in FROST is situated takes place between Christmas
and New Year. It is the time when much a lot of fire is used. People use
fire against the cold and candles against the darkness, they light their
rooms with candles. There is the Christmas tree, the fireworks, and so
on. It is a cold and dark time (which is not not so much in Barcelona
so much, but in Germany it can be very cold and it is dark at that time),
and the fire is just something people like very much, it is there, and
it gives light. And the boy in the film is obsessed with fire, he loves
the fire, and for him the flames are like a piece of art, to be watched
for the beauty of its their movements and power, and the more beautiful
the fire is, the more excited he is. And for sure it gives him warmth
and light and power like it does to everybody. And he uses the fire, he
is the master of fire. He gives fire to his the father when he wants to
smoke. When his father tries to light a match, it brakes breaks. He does
not have the fire at his disposal, he does not possess it. But the boy
does. When his mother needs it for lighting a candle, the boy strikes
a match. He always carries the fire always with himself, hidden in his
old little old puppet. In the end he sets the room with his the parents
on fire. He is the one who carries the fire. These are no symbols, as
I described said. You can see it in the film. It happens. Maybe Perhaps
indeed it is indeed metaphorical, but it is not a symbol, more rather
a metaphor. I make a distinction difference between metaphor and symbol.
I do not use symbols. But there are metaphors, certainlyfor sure.
- Why metaphors?
For me, a metaphor has a multi-functional life. A symbol is very one-dimensional.
A symbol is, for example, this little man on the pictogram which stands
in restaurants for toilet, it symbolises the toilet and the way to the
toilet, but nothing more. Metaphor is more, it is what it obviously seems
to be as an object in its material, sensual existence and simultaneously
it has an additional meaning on another level of relations. It is part
of different connections in different levels of sense and reality. The
fire for example is just fire, it is warm, it is light, it can burn, it
can destroy, it has different functions, that's all it is on one level.
But, on another level there is more meaning. In the boy’s hands
of the boy and in the context of the story, it is more than this, for
sure. And on a wider level, the fire stands for soul, life, God. And that
is for me the difference between symbol and metaphor. A pictogram of a
man on at a toilet will ever stay always stay what it stands for, no matter
on at which door or in whose hand it is. A metaphor has a multitude of
meanings. Let's take another example: the scene with the swan in NIGHTFALL.
The swan is trapped in a boat and the main hero saves it and puts it back
into the water, after cutting the tattooed name of his lover out of his
fingers. During the film festival in Venice, I did gave an interview with
to a German journalist. She was obsessed with the idea that the film was
full of symbols and that the swan was a symbol. But it is not a symbol.
The swan is a swan, that's it. The swan is one of the most common birds
in our region, like pigeons or sparrows, it is not a flamingo, it is an
ordinary bird, a kind of goose, it is not an exotic creature in our part
of the world. And the swan needs a long course run when it takes off starts
to fly, like an airplane aeroplane. The swan has to walk on the water
a quite pretty long way before and then it can take off into the sky.
If the way is too short, like in a boat, it cannot fly, so it is trapped.
That's it. There is no symbol, you cannot just cut the swan out of this
image, put it in front of you and say: "Well, what is the swan a
symbol for? What does the swan symbolise?" It symbolises nothing.
But in the scene, related to the hero, in the context of this man’s
behaviour, for sure of course it means something, there is a meaning,
but it is not a symbol, there is meaning for this man. Within the film,
the swan is one of the creatures he helps. He is unable to communicate
with people, but he's able to care for animals, for example. And this
is important at this moment, that when he saves the swan, it is important
for him. For the character and the film this moment is very important.
There is The swan has a meaning of the swan for the character, but isolated
from the character, isolated from the scene, there is not any symbolic
meaning. That is where, I would say, lays is where the difference between
symbol and metaphor lies. Metaphor is related to something and has different
meanings but a symbol is always the same. The symbol for the men’s
toilet is always the symbol for the men’s toilet, no matter where
it is. But a swan can have a variety of meanings, even no meaning.
- Metaphors are less institutional than symbols, giving space to daily
life live. More concerned withing imagination and feelings, perhaps?
A symbol doesn't change, it is always fixed. For example, the Christian
cross. It's also a metaphor, but it is a strong powerful symbol. And no
matter where you put it, on one level everyone will understand it in the
same way. But a the metaphor is related to the place and the moment where
it appears. So, there are no symbols in my films. I hate symbolist films.
And I hate symbols in films. They are not human, they are just abstract,
intellectual creations. But a metaphor is something you can feel and understand
out of the situation, it's always the thing itself and something else,
it has more than one meaning, whilst a symbol always has a single is one-meaning,
always, it always has a rigid strong definition. A metaphor doesn't have
a rigid strong definition, its meaning is created in the situation on
different levels of our thinking and feeling.
- Why is the tempo so important the tempo in your films?
The passing of time in the films, which some people call 'slow', I just
call'realistic'. I know people see it as slow, because let's say the "common"
films are faster. But for me, it's a reason for part of life and -–
life it IS slow. That's why I said before, - if you observe something
long enough, if you get go away from of the idea of just getting information,
if you start to connect your mind with what you see, the physical time,
after a certain point of duration, transforms into metaphysical time and
something new starts to happen, something that lies inside yourself. It
leads you to yourself. There is a moment when everything turns, when there
is not only you looking at onto the screen, but the screen starts to look
at you as well - and that's exactly the moment I am searching for. When
is the moment when the screen starts to look at the audience and you start
to look at yourself as an audience. That is what interests me and not
distracting to de-concentrate the audience like TV does, for example,
pulling yourself away from you. I am interested in a cinema which gives
you time and a little peace to discover something about of yourself no
matter if what you discover it is beautiful or ugly and painful what you
discover. Many people are afraid of slow films, because they are afraid
of themselves. But if you look at see it from under a different angle,
we can also say that a slow film gives you time to relax, to calm down,
somehow to come back home to yourself. And why not to have this beautiful
vision that the cinema could be a place where you go and nothing is being
taken away from you, but something is being given to you, time is given
to you and a part of yourself?. Normally, in the every day rush of modern
civilisation, ???life-time is taken away from you.
There is another aspect, the aspect of dignity. If a film gives you the
possibility to look into an actor's face a little longer than you need
to get the basic informations, you are enabled to discover the soul behind.
You are looking into a human being's face, for an actor is a human being,
at the same time aswhen he is acting. It is a fiction, and atin the same
time it is a documentary, because it documents the lifetime of the actor
at this moment. When an actor is sitting at a table smoking a cigarette,
he is really is sitting at the table smoking a cigarette. And it is so
beautiful to see his face and not just to getting the information: "the
main actor's face; he is smoking; cut". No, to show, and to stay
with him, and to hold the close-up for some moments longer than normal
is a question of dignity, because it is a human face.
So, there are many aspects to why I think to holding an image longer than
in ‘common’ cinema is worthwhile doing it.
- In the final shot in "Frost" we see the child character,
Misha, somewhere, alone and doubtful, in front of a road and an uncertain
future, and in the "Abendland" penultimate shot the main character
contemplates children playing, watching through a child’s memory
and, perhaps, lost purity or candour. But here you add a final shot, the
couple’s re-encounter. Formally, there certainly are common elements
-although it seems that you don’t refuse self-references or citations
in this spectrum- as, for example, in the
case of a scene from "Fate" reappearing as a poster in "Frost".
What kind of continuity do you establish between your films?
In FROST, for example, in the final shot of the boy, when he's standing
on the road, he’s just in a situation where everything's possible.
He can decide. After leaving the house where he burnt the hotel room where
his parents were, he escaped again and he has to decide in which direction
to go. So he looks around, in a close-up of his face, and he can go away
from the camera or he can go back in direction of the camera: it's his
decision – to go forward or to go back. He is now at the point in
his life where everything is new and possible. The old world is burned
out, it's over, it's done, so he has every possibility is open to him.
But he has to take make a decision.
The same thing, more or less, is exists in FATE, in the frame before the
end of the film, after the woman wakes woke up after the rape raping,
in the forest. She is standing close to the camera and looking around
and she has to decide where to go, to go back or to go forward. She is
in the same position. She has experienced something very painful, but
she has to take make a decision about where to go. And this looking around
is if she is making as to make herself sure of about the world around,
or to understanding it. For me, this looking around is like a big question.
Just to move the head, and to look around and to try to understand. "What
happened? Where am I? What to do next? Where to go?" For me, these
questions are inherent in this gesture are lying these questions. She
asks the question by making doing this gesture, and the boy in FROST asks
the same question by making doing his gesture. And to add one more scene,
in NIGHTFALL (it's also one scene before the end), the man is watching
children who are playing with a kite, trying to get make the kite to fly
in the sky. This happens after he experiences d before to bringing a dead
child back to its father, the man to whom he helped to hang himself. So,
he brings the dead child back and then he stands there watching the children
playing with the kite - and he is looksing around. He is very close to
the camera and in making by doing this gesture, he asks the same questions:
"What happened? What is my position in this world? What is my role
in what happened? What to do next? Where to go?"
So, that's true, in these 3 films you have the characters who asks these
question - "what can I do and what is my position in the world?"
- There is a particular correspondence between feelings and attitudes
that strongly connects theose 3 films. From time to time I asked myself
if some of the characters were not actually the same people, just in different
another moment of their lives, with new identities, but with the same
For sure, they are related with each other. They all also talk about relationship
between man and woman and human beings in general, they circle around
unsolved questions but they focus on different aspects. I would not say
that they talk about the same, but you can see them as a kind of triptych.
The new film is different. Maybe it is the beginning of a new triptych.
The new film, FALLEN, doesn't talk about relationship anymore. The relationship
is over or just happens in mind as an illusion. In the new film the main
character is not involved in a partnership. He is completely alone. The
next film (“ESCAPE”), I am hoping to realize in summer, as
well has a man in its centre who is alone. So maybe after the triptych
of films of which the heroes where related in a partnership or family,
with FALLEN a triptych of films about the loneliness of men who are alone
- Which kind of relationship do you establish with actors during the
process of making a film?
It may sound pathetic, but it's true, it's very simple, it's a relationship
of love. It starts with love and it stays so during the process of shooting
and, and in the best case, we are friends afterwards. I need them, we
are allies on the way through the shooting of he film. For me, the most
interesting thing is not the character in the script, but the actor himself;
how HE/SHE is, how HE/SHE moves, how HE/SHE smokes a cigarette,
how he/she sits for minutes drinking a glass of vodka and doing nothing,
how he/she dances, walks etc. - that's interesting. So, the actor as a
person is for me just as much interesting as the character of the film.
That's also why also every film is somehow is not only a film about the
character, it's the film about the actor himself, even if the actor may
be different in his everyday life, where he just is playing another part.
- And what about their involvement, feed-back, their opportunity to improvise
or the relationship they establish with the given stories?
We have a very vivid communication, we talk about the general questions
of the film, about the characters, their situation, their feelings, and
so on. We talk about the script, we talk about the story, we talk very
much about their feelings, the feelings of the actors, about their inside
world in relation to the character of the film. And of coursefor sure,
we talk about the actors’ experiences in their personal life, because
I don't think, it is interesting to talk about something you don't know
yourself. I know what I'm talking about and, of coursefor sure, it is
interesting to hear know the actors' opinion, because they are human beings,
they have experiences. Often Many times they also add something to the
film, stories from their life, and we use it in the film. So there are
many things in the films that are also taken from the actors’ life
lives of the actors, which is a result of our communication. No film would
be the same with different actors. When the emotional reality of the character
is clear, then we walk on a very safe ground in the film and we can improvise
a lot. Because if the basis is very clear for the actor, then everything
is possible, we can do everything. If the ground is solid but flexible,
you can jump high.
- You write the scripts, direct, operate the camera and edit your films,
and now you are your own producer too. Is this a need or an attitude?
How much of your own experience and involvement goes into your films?
I don't see myself in the industrial process, I don't feel myself as a
part of the industrial process. I see myself very much as the a creator
of the films. Since my studies at the film academy, where I already photographed
other students’ and my own the films of other students and my own
as a cameraman, I developed my films strongly from the visual point of
view and not so strongly from the literal one.
For FATE I did not use a script. There was just a very raw draft I used
for FROST, for NIGHTFALL there was a complete script, for the new film,
FALLEN there was no script, just a rough list of scenes. For the next
film, ESCAPE there is exists a complete script again. But even if the
scenes are very well planned before and I know every single scene we shoot,
the moment of shooting is really the moment when the film happens and
that's why for me it is very important to have the camera in my hand.
With the camera I write the film, it is like a pencil for me. With the
camera in my hand and with the actor in front of me, I am taking doing
many decisions in the moment I am shooting; if I move right or left, if
I turn a little more this or that way. These little things can have a
big influence. And it is a chance the possibility to act with the actors,
it is like a dance, I'm really moving with the actor through the scene.
When he moves or when I discover something in on his face, I decide to
go closer for example or to create distance. These are things, I decide
in the moment when the camera is running. It is a very intuitive decision,
it can never can be planned. I need this freedom, to decide very freely
what to do with respect to concerning what the actor is giving at this
moment. It can be that suddenly he does is doing something I never expected
and I decide to doing something with the camera I never thought of before.
This freedom I need it and it gives life a chance to enter the set. For
this you need a camera person is needed who is flexible enough to react
to on every single moment. This physical aspect is very important to me.
I think it would be very hard, impossible for me, just to see the film
from its literal aspect and not to care about for the images, just to
sit on a chair, outside the scene and to watch to what is happening. This
physical aspect of doing it, these moments with the actors, are very important
for me, these are very creative moments. Before the shooting, you can
think, you can imagine the film, you can have ideas about it, but in the
moment of shooting it really happens, the film is there, it's really born
in at this moment, and that's so important. The presence in the moment
of shooting is important. And to operate use the camera in this moment
of birth is essential, and not to be distant from the camera or away from
the camera. It's like painting the film, it's like writing the film with
the camera, the camera is the pencil, as I said, but it is also like an
organ, like a third eye.
As for being a producer, And to produce, it just happened now, because
of this new film FALLEN, even though I thought about doing it a long time
before. Also I produced As well last year a long documentary last year
had been produced by me. It will have its world premiere at the Rotterdam
International Film Festival on February 1. For me it is one of the most
beautiful documentaries ever made. It is a 90 minutes film with a clear
and strict structure, without any comment, tableau- like takes, showing
places in of the city and its people. Life just happens. For me, it's
the essence of cinema, this film. But I suppose guess that only very 'obsessed'
lovers of cinema would ever distribute this film. But I thinkg there are
some somewhere around in this world. And I am pretty sure that almost
nobody would have produced it. Even though I am sure that lots of people
would enjoy watching to watch it.
When I produce, I can make a film real which maybe just a few people would
fight for real. And that's a very important aspect for me, especially
at in a time when film-making is gettings more and more commercial and
fewer less and fewer less people have the courage to produce and shoot
something that is not out of the commercial aspect, and more and more
distributors and producers just end up in the mechanism of the capitalist
film-making, which is not interesting at all, because it is unconnected
with something out of the art, it has nothing to do with the art of film.
Right now I also have a strong desire to also put my energy into producing
not only my own films but other people's films as well, to produce films
that maybe nobody would produce, without hoping for the hope on a commercial
profit, just to make a film real, to believe in it. And this documentary
is a very good example, it's a very good film, but very hard to bring
it into the capitalist circus. So, that's maybe the best answer to why
I want to try to produce: to make the films which are worthy of being
made real which are worth to be done, completely independent of the commercial
- Is this the place of European cinema?
What is European cinema? I don't know. It is difficult to say. I wouldn't
even be able to couldn’t even say what Spanish cinema is, or German
cinema... The gGood European cinema for me would be a variety of different
kinds of cinemas, different kinds of film languages, not just one cinema,
not just one language, no mono-culture. There are directors who try to
make -hHollywood-like films in Europe, and there are others who try to
tell their specific stories. For me, a film’s strength depends on
how much I can see is always as strong as I can also read someone's cultural
back-ground in it. I don't want to see Spanish films which look like Hollywood
films, I want a director to show me another world and maybe aspects of
a country or a culture which is not mine, his personal point of view.
In this way I would love to see European cinema like this in the future.
But I think that if European cinema develops in the direction of trying
to make films that everybody, everywhere, on the lowest level can just
consume, then there may well might be no future for this art, because
there will be nothing but an adaptation of Hollywood cinema. The whole
historical experience of Europe is different from the U. S. American one,
so you cannot make an U. S. American film in Europe. It is a different
kind of society, history etc. So, for me, the positive vision of European
cinema would be something original, independent of Hollywood, something
that tries not to be mono-cultural, just to satisfy exclusively the primitive
commercial aspect of cinema. The positive vision of European cinema is
a cinema which also has the courage also to make cinema for minorities,
which demands asks a strong personal statement from of the film’s
author of the film, which includes contains the idea of the director as
a creator of the film.
I think it is cynical, for example, if those responsible for responsible
persons of TV-channels and people in of the film industry say tell that
the audience does not want different films. I think it is a lie. A lot
of people would appreciate different films, they just do not get them.
If it was would make it easier for them to get them, if there was would
be a stronger distribution of different kinds of films, if people had
would have an easier access to them, then I am sure there would be a big
audience for them it, maybe even bigger than a minority. It is a minority
now because on the so-called film industry is using massive, powerful
strong instruments to suppress keep different films down. And I think,
it is a cynical ideology to say tell, people do not want to see something
different, I do not believe it. But they have to get got the chance to
see it. I am sure that if for the propaganda for an author film, a so
called art film, the same amount of money was spent would be used on the
advertising for an author film, a so-called art film, as for a Hollywood
film, people would also go to see watch it. People just have to know about
it and not to be afraid. But all the media, mass-media and even critics
make people be afraid of watching different films, they destroy them before
they come into the cinemas. So, I do not agree that let's say 'author-cinema'
is just a cinema for minorities. It just reaches minorities now, because
of the way of distribution channels, but if it was would be more distributed
more widely and more cinemas would played these films, people would watch
them. People are not stupid, they are by not far not as stupid as these
people try to make us believe. It often happens, that when someone comes
with a script which is obviously not a commercial film, TV-stations and
financers say: nobody wants to see this. How do they know? It's a question
of how much effort you put into it. If you put a lot of energy into it,
I'm sure you could can reach a lot of people.
- You have recently founded a film production company called KINO KOMBAT.
Do you think mean that nowadays a film author should adopt the position
of an activist?
I believe that if you really love cinema because of its cinematographic
quality, because of the art itself and because you believe in this art,
then you should not wait and run around and look for too long for other
people who wouldhave the same belief and would produce your film and waste
losing your energy not finding them. The most natural thing thenis then
to say: "Well, then I will get go together with people who share
my vision and we’ll do it together." Not only my own films,
but also those ofother people’s. Because I know quite a lot of some
people who whichleave film-schools with a strong belief in cinema, but
who they will be broken after a few some years. They can come with good
ideas and a good script, but they will find no way to finance it. Finally,
the film will never exist. And every producer, who does not make realize
a film because it doesn’t no promise a commercial profit, even though
he knows that it would be willa good film due to its artistic qualities,
is participatinges in the killing of cinema. Trying To try to produce
films myself is a small little part I can play do to try to keep it alive.
And if directors don't care, then who willshould care?
I believe in cinema, that's the point. And when you believe in something,
it's very difficult to give it up. I also count very much on individuals,
and there are individuals who carry on continue, who try to make realise
their visions real. And even if it seems that it is more difficult, because
it's not the usual thing, I think it is interesting to see something out
of the ordinary usual, to make a little more effort, and then maybe you
get something that you don't get from other films. When I watch something,
I don't look at whether it's easy or not, I look for other criteria. And
maybe we have to understand that culture, and art in general, is not something
that is being given easily. The problem with mass-media is that they try
to make people believe that easy is good, good is only what comes can
be taken easily. But maybe we have to come up with a different to another
idea of culture - that culture is not something you just swallow like
a hamburger. Maybe culture is rather also something you have to fight
24th December 2004