– how proud it sounds –
#1 I really thought that The International Film Festival in Skopje would be a manifestation with the short breath, some kind of an exhibition that will not repeat itself again. But, thankfully to the persistence of the organizers, this year, again – we had the opportunity to update with the modern and avant-garde flows of the International cinema and, our capitol city of Skopje, as our small country to be the hosts of another “traditional” cultural event. So by it, in this case, we can expend our intellectual horizons and art curiosity.
As first, let me inform you about the basic data of the Festival:
– duration: 12th to 21st of March;
– six program parts: A View on the British Film, Festival Films, World Window, Retrospectives – Lars Von Trier, Andy Warhol, Kiril Cenevski;
– 42 films were shown (which means: only one was cancelled);
– guest-authors were presented;
– the projections were at the cinema of the Cultural Army Center, except the Andy Warhol Retrospective, which was attained at the Museum of Contemporary Arts (where it should’ve been attained anyway);
– no awards were given (it is a non-competitive character of the Festival).
According the selection, it can be concluded that the accent was given on the – a little forgotten here – European cinematography, and when we’re talking about the US-made cinematography, the selector Tatiana Janevska gave the primate to the art/indi-authors. Because of the festival’s large quantum of shown films, and in the interest of giving the whole picture of it, we’ll make this division: well known directors/authors (liken Boorman, Jordan, Trier, Cohen brothers, Bertolucci, Gilliam, Hermann), and from other side – national representatives of some European countries (the most of them from G. Britain and France), and the Japanese one at the end. So, from this, we can draw a conclusion that: authors who are already proven were at the level of their reputation, and the national representatives are the authors of small, well done technically and ambient-efficient films. But, they’re always with some lack of charm that we can see at the deeds of the affirmed authors. I’m generalizing, of course, because I couldn’t cover all of it. That’s not only because of almost always-overcrowded theater, intensive programs or because of the uncomfortable sits in the theatre (made for the though army bottoms), but also because of the films themselves – and their themes – all that what were given to us by the info-brochures.
Watching the Croatian representative “The three husbands of M.Zh.”, even with the firm claims of the author Tribuson that this film is a comedy – I didn’t laugh. To tell the truth frankly, some of the audience had fun, but I just can’t – not to put that on the behalf of the Yugo-nostalgy (which – it seems – really exists). The Croatians has rewarded this film in Pula (Pula!), in a competition of four films (some of them with a TV-ambitions) and they compared it with the film “Who sings, means no evil”. Well, there should be any rewarding in general, okay, but to compare something like this with the very supreme deed of one’s national cinematography? Nonsense…
#2 The Belgium-Holland co-production “Lost luggage” (ambitious film with Isabella Rosellini and Maximilian Schell), brutally plays with the elementary human feelings. This film attaches the audience’s affection to the little Jewish boy and to his destiny – only to emphasize the point of his death – wanting (or not) something to be said or accented with it. The manipulation is very transparent and can be easily sensed here. I wonder were the subtlety of the European cinematography’s lost? The same case is with the Spanish representative: it is not clear to me at all, why this national cinematography has this high rating? Because of Almodovar, may be? The French movies are having trouble with the distribution concerning the inferiority in comparison with the American production. The mega-budget movies like “Asterix” doesn’t seem to help at gaining the Old Glory.English films are more or less – like MTV video-spots. The Irish representatives – Neil Jordan and John Boorman – they are “veterans” in English and American production both, so they are irrelevant for this revue (because of its character).
And, to emphasize… if that what was shown was the true represent of the European cinematography, then – indeed – the label: European film isn’t affirmative attribution any more. The only recommendation for a film can only be its author, where from he/she may be…
#3 Let me to get back on a theme I’ve written about in the film-magazine “Kinopis”, No.18: I had the opportunity, for two years in the row, to take a participation in the work of the European Film Forum in Strasbourg. That Forum is trying to find a way to revive the European film industry in a manner I (personally) find it very unlikely to be successful. The way this Forum tries to revive the European film is through some kind of a pressure upon the members of the European Parliament, for some measures to be taken Euro-wide. Very unlikely. But, the very existence of this Forum and its goals – undoubtedly shows the fact that the authorial-productive-distribution crisis really exists, but then again, it shows that awareness about it – also exists in the European film domains. Only the modus of its overcoming isn’t found – yet.
So, at last, this Festival of ours is just okay… It’s needed as much as it is necessary. In spite of all individual disappointments by some of the films & authors, the existence of any alternative in the opposite of the Hollywood mainstream production is a fact sufficient by itself. It lets the real art/film lovers breath easier and to raise their individual human self-dignity at least by a bit.
Well, considering the fact that here on the Balkans we (“the Barbarians” here) live in an exciting, unpredictable and poor world, I wish the Festival many and many more years of existence, and better films (which doesn’t always depend on the selector/organizer)…
And let me say a few more things: As first, I must mention that Radu Mihaileanu’s film “Train De Vue” was the best film I saw on the Festival’s repertoire, and may be even the best I’ve seen in the last few years and more – may be even in the top five ever. Because, the Jews and the Gypsies were victimized by a great culture; and when – not long ago – NATO Alliance started bombing our close neighbor, the screen in my mind couldn’t stop repeating the end of this movie, when the grenades were flying over the front.
As second – Lars Von Trier’s “Idioterne” is filmed entirely on video-technique! So… Macedonians! Do film in Video! Remember “Maklabas”…
And as third… I would rejoice a little more emotion-engaged audience. The applause at the opening night shouldn’t affect the look of the haircut and the make-up “by Sergei”, for example.
And – as for the last: with a great pleasure, I happily greet the absence of politicians – as among the audience, so on the sponsor’s lists – as well!
Skopje, April 1999