Nadja Andrasev, Luca Tóth, Dubravka Turić and Irine Jordania are all filmmakers from different parts of South East Europe, but one other thing they have in common besides being European female filmmakers is that their short films have been selected for the “Competition – Short Film” program of this year’s Sarajevo Film Festival.
Tara Karajica caught up with them at the festival and discussed their relationship to filmmaking and the short form, their respective works, women in film and their next projects.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you to make films?
Nadja Andrasev: Even though I have always been interested in animation, after college I ended up with a job in the film industry, working as a second assistant director for many years. I was thirty by the time I knew that there were still topics I wanted to explore as a director and that animation was the best way for me to do it. I’m very happy about this decision and that it wasn’t too late to make this career change!
Luca Tóth: I’ve always been interested in the emphatic procedure of character development, so I knew very early on that I would want to go into some sort of storytelling field. The realization that I care for animation came later, though.
Dubravka Turić: I loved film since I was a little girl, just like any other kid. But then, I remember watching a serial of Chabrol’s films on TV when I was about eleven. It made such a huge impact on me. That feeling I had watching it, the feeling I can still bring back. I think that was the first sparkle. Later came high school and studying at the Film Academy, and then lots of years in film editing.
Irine Jordania: I always knew I wanted to make films, although up until now, I didn’t feel ready to share something of my own in the capacity of a director. I have been working on films one way or another. I would either write about films or write screenplays. I was thirteen years old when I got a role in a film. Despite all the efforts one puts into a film in these capacities, one still acts as a conduit, a transmitter. Making your own film is more like bearing your soul. I hope I don’t sound excessive when I say that I have reached the point where I had to make this film.
Can you talk about your short films?
D.T.: After Belladonna and Cherries, I started working on a script for my first feature film Traces. As you know, the process of making a film is very slow, so when some gaps appeared, I used that time to make a third short – Tina. My goal was to make a film without dialogue and bring out emotions through the atmosphere. It was an interesting yet hard process.
N.A.: Symbiosis is about a woman who starts to investigate her husband’s mistresses, and in this process, she becomes increasingly curious about them, to the point of obsession. My aim was to talk about insecurities, loneliness, voyeurism, and female solidarity.
I.J.: The feeling of loss was the main drive for me when making 12 K. Marx Street, as expressed in the house that was lost. The film doesn’t provide any specifics on the circumstances of losing the house, any specifics about the military conflict or any information about the man who now resides in it. By avoiding such particulars, we aimed to depict a broad, generalized view.
L.T.:Mr. Mare is a surreal chamber play about what it is like to not understand how one should love us when we fall in love with them.
How do you see the short form today?
L.T.: I always find it degrading when people only look at the short form as a stepping stone to feature length films. A short film can fill you with questions in a matter of minutes – and you would still find it challenging to answer them days later.
N.A.: The short form should not be viewed just as a stepping stone before making a feature length project. Especially in animation, many directors will never have the chance or the desire to make a feature film and will be happy with making short films. I feel that this format is perfect for me as, like a short story in literature, it can make a lasting impact on the viewer and explore complex topics in a compact way.
D.T.: Shorts are a difficult form. Diving into the characters, the plot, the emotions, the atmosphere in just a few minutes is no easy task. There is no time for mistakes. And then, later on, the distribution and visibility are a big problem. Wouldn’t it been better if instead of stupid commercial blocks before the movies, the cinemas would screen one short film? I think that is something we should be working on…
I.J.: At first, I thought short film was just a shorter version of a feature length film, realizing this couldn’t be further from truth as soon as I started working on the script. What distinguishes it from the feature length film is that a short film makes you convey your story in one breath. While I may not have fully succeeded at this task yet, I am certain that the length is not the defining feature of storytelling!
What is your opinion on the situation of women in film today?
D.T.: Quality should be over quotas – I know! But when you look at the statistics, they are really, really bad for female filmmakers. So 50/50 by 2020 is a necessity! It is good that something has finally happened that will move things for us in a good way.
L.T.: Still in progress…
N.A.: Fortunately, in animation the gender balance seems to be a little bit better than in live action. Of course, I would love to see it improve much more, both in animation and in the film industry. I’m very happy that in Hungarian animation there is a new wave of female directors achieving international success. It is also great that this year, the six Hungarian films competing in Sarajevo are all made by women, as well as a work-in-progress feature!
I.J.: There are many successful women directors around me, and, for me, it is very important to hear their voices. I am very excited and looking forward to the world premiere of a very talented director and friend of mine, Tamar Shavgulidze’s film at the Toronto International Film Festival. To be honest, I don’t really divide the world into men and women or any other categories. I don’t think, that cinema has a gender. I think that the most important thing is to share your own thoughts and feelings in your own way and then, you will be heard…
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
L.T.: In my teenage years, Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola had a huge influence on me. These days, my fellow animation ladies are the ones who inspire me the most and who happen to be old schoolmates and friends of mine, too.
D.T.: There are a lot of female authors that I like and my taste also changes through the years, so I wouldn’t put anyone as a favorite. But my list would, for sure, include Andrea Arnold, Lucrecia Martel and Jane Campion.
I.J.: It is difficult to answer this question. From the recently seen films, I particularly liked Happy as Lazzaro by Alice Rohrwacher.
N.A.: I don’t have a favorite filmmaker, but the women who inspire me the most are my friends, a group of Hungarian animation directors and visual artists, like Zsuzsanna Kreif, Réka Bucsi, Luca who is here, Júlia Farkas, Borbála Tompa, Anna Katalin Lovrity, Petra Lilla Marjai, Borbála Zétényi and Flóra Anna Buda, among others.
L.T.: Thank you, Nadja!
N.A.: It’s true!
What are your next projects?
I.J.: I’m currently working as a scriptwriter on a feature length project with Tato Kotetishvili. He was the director of photography on my short film that is being presented here, in Sarajevo. I am also working on my own film project which is somehow related to 12 K. Marx Street as it is also an attempt to view the world from within. There will also be a house, but seen from the road, because it is too early to return.
L.T.: I’m somewhat emptied out by finishing my previous film, so I’m not thinking about my next project yet.
D.T.: I’m working on two feature films right now. The first one, Traces, went through the SplitScript workshop mentored by Razvan Radulescu and Midpoint. We have just received funding from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, and we will hopefully shoot it next spring. The other project, Rhino, is in an early phase and I’m still developing the script within the framework of the TorinoFilmLab.
N.A.: Currently, I am starting to explore possible ideas for my next project. The topic that interests me the most right now is women nearing forty who are undecided on having children, but have various biological and societal pressures weighing on them.
This interview was conducted at the 2019 Sarajevo Film Festival.