S.T.-P.: About the latest film project – Macedonian-Czech co-production DEAF HOUSE…
I.T.: I think it would be a great film. As for now, there are no obstacles to start the preparations for the shooting, although I will ask for longer time for that as it is usual for Macedonia, and the production should begin in 2001. Film is based on the novel „The Great Water (Golemata voda)“ by Zhivko Chingo – a specific, and from my viewpoint – excellent novel, quite difficult for adaptation in film language. All of us who work on this film – Macedonian and Czech side, both, are bound to make a European film. And to make such film, some attitudes and stands should be changed, and some people should understand a lot, but I think there will be no (real) problem. Our mentality isn’t exactly of the “workaholic” type. So mine, too. Only, I found myself in different environment, so I gained different habits. So came this co-production, and I’m especially very glad that the Macedonian Ministry of Culture decided to do it. As for the budget: about 35% of the budget will be provided by Czech side and the rest we hope to be financed by the Macedonian side. In case we “get short”, there are other producers interested in the film that can get into this co-production, I have even now a few European producers who are ready to “get in”. You know, the sides always negotiate about a lot of things, like where the shooting will take place, who will be the in the cast, etc. In this case, the Czech side made a very generous move: they let the film DEAF HOUSE to be pure Macedonian film placed and filmed in Macedonia, with Macedonian actors, in Macedonian language. And the Czech partner’s interest? Me. Simply, they’ve chosen me as an author, as someone they want to “push” forward, in order to continue to make films. Not to exaggerate, but to them, the project itself isn’t even that important, for them, what’s important, is that I am working on it. The project comes next in line of their priorities. On one hand, that’s good. It’s a challenge – on the other hand. Also, it is an opportunity to open the doors for the others here in Macedonia, for the world and the European film-market. I know there are many good projects in Macedonia. Why shouldn’t be more co-productions? I took this project mainly because it was so specific; because – I’m afraid of too much simplicity.
#2 S.T.-P.: About your engagements in Czech Republic…
I.T.: In the summer of 2000, I stayed month and a half in Macedonia in order to work on the joint script-making for DEAF HOUSE; and then I returned to Prague, and than again I came back in Macedonia – for the 21st IFCF “Manaki Brothers” in Bitola. But, I have many engagements and obligations to fulfill: the film PAST, although is two and a half years old, lives constantly, goes on Festivals. So, there are, occasionally, some kind people who invites me at the Festivals, a thing I rare do, I don’t like Festivals, because they are so boring for me. You know, as an author, when the film is finished, I’m done with it. But for everyone else and for the film itself also – it begins to live when and only when I’m done with it. Today, to me, it looks like the PAST is made by someone else. About my new projects, I have a serial of 26 documentary episodes, 60-minutes each. Fortunately, I’m in the role of producer. The third project that is waiting for me is the editing and post-production of the film I mentioned above, the film with the very simple title: THE MOVIE (FILM), that I filmed last year, and in which film worked only five of us (including the actors). This film is the most experimental shooting I had until now. And, mainly I always do the choice of the crew I work with. Some people do object to the fact that I change my crew constantly, because in show business is one unwritten rule that you don’t change the wining team. I don’t do that. All of my projects are different, and I think that the different people should make it. For example, I don’t think that the D.O.P. of PAST is the best choice for DEAF HOUSE, because this film should look different. In this film that will be little different in that sense, because I have an old friend, cameraman, who lives in Los Angeles, and shoots there for seven-eight years and gained to work even in A-production films, so I think this is our last chance to make a film together. He is Suki Medenchevic, Macedonian by mother. Wanted to work together so much, but he prefers different kind of films and different kind of making his existence, unlike me, who don’t like that American style, or America. But I hope that we’ll get him to work on this film…
… Whatever I work is specific. I don’t like to do one thing twice. I always try to find some new possibilities, new visions, new forms and something different in each new project I work on. I don’t think of myself as some great director, filmmaker of great routine. From that certain point of view I’m very bad director. But it’s always good when there is someone who opens a new ways. I stand for “coexistence”. Radical – yes, I am, but not by the cost of destroying the other things!
S.T.-P.: … And if happens to shoot film for Hollywood?
I.T.: That can’t happen, because there are many factors that inflict. The story can be OK, but the author can’t remain completely himself. Even among the most famous and great directors, there are so few who have a right on the “final cut”, which means – the final version of the edited film. He can shoot the film, but if the producer doesn’t like it, he can simply re-edit the film, or he makes a new shooting for the end of it, etc. If the film is meant for the audience, well, OK. But I don’t make such movies. And, considering my way of looking at things and all of my specifics, the possibilities to shoot a film in Hollywood are close to none.
S.T.-P.: About what are the actualities in Czech film production –what are the actual trends in filmmaking and the film repertoire?
I.T.: The Czech film is very specific – mainly in two aspects: as first, there is a quite large number of films per year (for such a small country). About twenty films in one year, which is some kind of overproduction (in comparison with Belgium, for example, where only three or four films are produced per year). And also other, much stronger cinematographies make less films per year. So it is actually a success of the Czech cinematography, especially considering the fact that the State doesn’t participate at all, or the Czech Cinematography Fund participates, but with minimum funds. All of the films are produced mainly in private sector, which is like a miracle, in some way. On the other hand, because of State’s minor involvement, the main of the funds are the producer-money; and the producers always demand, and believe, that their money (investments, namely) will return with interests. That also means that at least 15 of 20 films that are produced per year – are comedies.
For some more refined tastes, there are the art-cinemas, which aren’t much in number, and they are intended for less audience. The problem isn’t in the lack of different films (with their own poetics), but the problem is in the fact that nobody wants to show them in their repertoire. Or, more accurate, even when they are showing, nobody goes to see them. It is not profitable, not even to “flat the score”, so these small art-cinemas are needed, the film theaters where this kind of an audience could come to see something different, something they like. It is questionable is their number sufficient, and if the distributors able to buy a large number of that kind of films. As I said before, there are no much art-cinemas in Czech Republic, in comparison, for example, with Hungary: when I was invited with my film PAST at the Festival in Budapest, I found out that there are 18 art-cinemas, and you can see, in one day, 18 art-films. In Czech Republic, that matter stands “in half way”. As all over the world, 99% of the distributor’s offer are American films, and there is no chance for some other kind of film to “enter”. Sometimes, some good Czech comedy would “stand up” side by side with them, although that happens once in two-three years. Even the Sasha Gideon’s film RETURN OF THE IDIOT, in Czech Republic has a treatment of a comedy.
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski