”I think… And I Make Films!”
Suzana Todorovska –Pavloska: … After the LET’S GET CLEAN (1989, mid-length feature film), SORROW FOR SOUTH (1990, TV-show), CANARIAN CONNECTION (1993, long-length feature film and participant at the IFCF “Manaki Brothers” in Bitola, the same year), SHPACHEK BY SHPACHEK (1995, TV-ego serial), COMMON MARRIAGE (1996, documentary), THE TESTIMONY OF THE SECRET WITNESS (1996, documentary), PAST (1997/98, long-length feature film), about his work as a script-writer and director – by his time & experience perspective – today…
Ivo Trajkov: Until now, I’ve worked on four feature films. The fourth, actually, isn’t finished yet. The CANARIAN CONNECTION, practically, is mine second, and in meantime, I did the PAST, the film, which was at the 21st IFCF “Manaki Brothers” in Bitola – out of the competition. Somehow, I move in different directions, particularly towards the so-called “author’s film”, and, what’s of most importance for me, towards the author’s liberty in the filmmaking. And today, in this actual film industry, that’s most difficult to achieve. Primarily because, of course, making a film costs a lot, and when somebody provides the money, it’s understandable that he would like to have his own influence in his investment. That’s normal. On the other hand, the author just can’t allow that – if we speak for the “author’s film”, and not for the commercial film production That’s completely different story. I live in Prague and I don’t have to do things I don’t like, because, I – definitely – do exactly what I like to do. Anyway, that’s so, at least, in this past six years of mine. I managed that very simple: I didn’t work only as a filmmaker – just in order to make films. I did stay in the filmmaking business working as a producer of short/mid-length documentaries – mainly with my colleagues from the film-school. I find a lot meaning in that, too, helping the younger colleagues and those for whom I think that are worth of it, as people and authors, both. The combination of being producer and director allows me – working on the things I like to – to be able to make an existence. I don’t have a house, I don’t drive “Mazda” or something else like that, but I feel so good at heart… Everybody has his opportunity to choose anything, and I did choose something that I think is important for me, because I want to feel well inside. And – I could feel good even if I don’t have anything to eat for three days.
S.T.-P.: What can you say about the beginning of “Ivo Trajkov and the Film”-story, which dates from the end of the 80’s…?
I.T.: I left for Prague to study – somehow – completely accidentally… And in spite the fact that, at that time, Prague was somehow “conservative” and introvert (not as it is today), but it had some challenging “feeling”. Because of the city and that atmosphere, I decided to go there and to try to achieve what I wanted. Frankly, I didn’t expect to be accepted at the Academy, after the exams… But, somehow, it happened at my very first attempt… I don’t know how. And I don’t care. I left to stay, then. Not because I don’t want to “remain Macedonian”, but the opportunities are so “low” in Macedonia, especially for someone like me, for someone who so firmly requires and insists on some things. In Macedonia, it doesn’t “walk easy”. And there are no possibilities. If, in Macedonia, the filmmaking average would be, at least, ten films per year, then may be that one or two of them could be “author’s films”. But, it’s clear that’s not possible when the reality is one or two films in three years. I had luck, and I made my first film during the forth or the fifth year of my studies. It was the start of my – let’s say – career, in spite of the fact that this word: career, is the most disgusting word I know; I would say: life. That’s because everything what I work – is in fact, a part of my life, and it isn’t anything else… Therefrom comes my idea of working only what I like, because – signing under something that doesn’t suits me isn’t the problem, but the problem is: why should I waste so much time in my life on something I don’t want to do? At the beginning I worked on many various projects, but later, I became selective. To achieve all this – is much easier in Czech Republic, because the number of films made there is quite larger, and there is a space for some more extreme films, for some experiments, for some kinds of film I’m interested in. Did I made the right thing or not – I don’t really know, but if I talk about my coming back in Macedonia… I think, for a filmmaker, that shouldn’t be a problem. Wherever he can work what he really wants to, there is his home.
Three or for years I think about it, and I would like to make a Macedonian film, and now is, most probably, the time for that to happen.
#1 S.T.-P.: About the film PAST, about its subtlety, intimacy and cruelty at the same time; about the film in which there is not much words, but mainly inner silence, emotions and deep human pain… About the film “experiment”…
I.T.: Some people, who like me as an author, do object that I’m different in every single project. I say to them that my work is my life, and I do change – in my life! With every new film, I’m few years older. I just can’t make the similar films. Not that I’m more mature. Just older! But, I know one thing for sure – that what’s of the most importance for me, is to tell my own testimony about this world, in a way I see things, something that I’m concerned about, or something I don’t approve, or something I don’t agree with… It’s important to me to get back, in a way, to the so-called – let’s say: more “philosophical” cinematography. I have a few reasons: as first, I think that the world cinematography, mainly, moves towards the commercial film. That has a positive meaning, also, and I think that there are more than 500 film directors who can make films of that kind better than me, so why should I repeat that what they are doing, imitate them, or to try to reach for something that I primarily think it’s unreachable. For example, such commercial films, with no objections made, are produced by Hollywood. Anyway, I’m interested in something else – the kind of films, which were made in the 60’s, were in world’s, and especially European cinematography. That’s the socially, or in some other way “engaged” film. Film that intends to say something, film that has an idea or a thought, which has to be said. Anyway, I’m aware that the film can’t give the answers – that stand about the film is abandoned by everybody long time ago. During our lives, we can’t find the answers and the 90-minutes long film itself – even less. But, what we can do, is to – again and again – to ask the questions, and to hope that someone is bound to hear them. So I made a strange decision and I convinced myself that, in fact, I doesn’t matter if my films will be seen by 100.000 people, or a million, or just five. What’s important, is whether two of those five, maybe, will hold on to it – what I meant to say and whether they will, at least once in their further living, recall that film.
S.T.-P.: About the film (film art) and the money…
I.T.: Somehow, the role of the art vanished – suddenly, I don’t know where the art is! Why film shouldn’t be art? Of course, today we still have many good films that can be called as an art. But, as for me, there is nothing else but constant attempts to talk about the contemporary world, and to ask the questions. I wish me further success with these films. You can imagine how difficult it is to make such films as I make, to find funds for the production, and maintaining the author’s freedom at the same time, because if I lose that, I’ll lose that, I lose half of what I intended to say. That is a regular, large and constant conflict within me – always. But, as for now, and until now, I’m doing OK. So I finished the making of the particular film last year, but the post-production isn’t finished yet – because of the money problems, of course. I have some fund offers, but I wouldn’t take it, because some terms were made that I can not accept. It is an author’s project, and it wouldn’t be that if I accept those terms. Here lays the great deal of my problems. But, I think, so if the film “rests” for ten years? I consider my themes as universal and eternal. I have no need to make a film about the war in Kosovo, or something like that, if I don’t find some universal, human dimension. What’s important is to maintain my personal author’s integrity. That, probably, has no real meaning for the recipient. But every recipient is what he is. So am I. I believe that my films has its own audience, which likes that kind of films. It’s not very large audience, maybe, but that’s OK. If the film is intended for only ten in Macedonia, so be it, why cut them out with no film? The money is the only reason. And who makes film for money? It doesn’t make sense. Look at me with my film PAST. I worked on this film for three years. What amount can pay all that I invested as an author in those three years? I’m a great individual type, maybe extreme, but I’m not of those who say: It must be destroyed! No, I say: Let it be! The same I say for the Hollywood production – I have a right of a choice, so if I don’t like Hollywood films, I don’t have to watch them, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t exist. In contrary!