The 40th edition of the Summer Film School is over. It saw a record number of visitors; thank you for coming and see you at the 41th edition that will take place from 24 July until 1 August 2015.
See You Next Year!
The official closing ceremony of the 40th edition of the Summer Film School took place in Hvězda on Saturday evening, and the two protagonists from the opening evening appeared once again: a girl from the poster and a marathon runner, who reminded the audience of a new look of the ACFK trophy – an ice-cream. Radana Korená, the festival director, summed up this year’s edition of the SFS, thanked the audiences, organizers, guests and partners of the SFS. Iva Hejlíčková, the programme director, added that thanks to the hard work of all participants it’d been possible to organize a very successful festival despite challenging weather. Stanislav Blaha, the deputy mayor of Uherské Hradiště, thanked the organizers and those local people who took part in the festival activities. An ACFK Annual Award was given to the French director Bertrand Tavernier, who was unfortunately unable to arrive. The award was accepted on his behalf by Mehdi Abdollahzadeh, his friend and collaborator. The closing ceremony was followed by a screening of Tavernier’s The French Minister.
“While I was on a holiday in the Philippines, I noticed two armed guys arguing in front of an armoured truck,” the director Sean Ellis said about what had inspired him to write and shoot Metro Manila, an unusual thriller. And during the Q&A after the screening he added that there had been yet another inspiration: a newspaper article about a desperate man who robbed the people on a plane and then jumped out with a hand-made silk parachute. “They found him after four days. He was stuck in the mud up to his waist, with that silk parachute blowing in the wind behind his back... It seemed such a poetic, if harsh image that I used this story as a sort of an analogy to the despair of the main protagonist in my film.” The film was made in Tagalog, a local language Ellis can’t speak, which meant that the actors had to translate their own lines from an English script; consequently editing and post-production took longer than usual, because Ellis had to have all dialogues translated back into English. But all the hard work paid off – Metro Manila is a moving, authentic film, and the audience at the SFS gave it a big round of applause.
A Fool There Was Concluded the Silent Films With Musical Accompaniment Section
“A fool there was who saw an angel in a woman and her claws,” Věroslav Hába, a film historian, rhymed before the last screening of the Silent Films section. A Fool There Was was made in 1915 (dir. Frank Powell) and it’s a typical example of the films of the same period – the main protagonist is a woman-vamp, who destroys men on purpose, who’s ruthless, beautiful and evil. “She presents a mortal danger for men,” Hába explained. Theda Bara herself, who played the vamp, said about her part, “The vampire that I play is the vengeance of my sex upon its exploiters. You see, I have the face of a vampire, but the heart of a féministe.“ Great musical accompaniment to this famous American gem was provided by Ille, a band that wasn’t at the SFS for the first time.
“You don’t mind I’m married, do you?” Josef Somr asked when accepting an ACFK Award in Hvězda. He said it in a response to a young actress who’d approached him with a stamp in her hand, lifting her skirt a bit and thus alluding to one of the famous scenes from Closely Watched Trains. The actor gallantly stood next to the girl so that the audience couldn’t see her bottom and added that the award belonged to everybody from the film crew, namely Jaromír Šofr, who also visited this year’s festival. “But don’t worry, Jaromír, I let you taste it,” Somr joked about this year’s ice-cream trophy. The second award went to Jan Kastner, a former chairman of the ACFK, who concluded his speech by thanking the audience for staying in their seats, even though they probably never heard of him. A following Q&A with Somr and Šofr focused on the making of Closely Watched Trains, which was shown in the end of the closing ceremony.
“Bertrand Tavernier is a stranger in both “his” countries – in France and in the USA,” Mehdi Abdollahzadeh, a film theoretician and an old friend of the famous French director, has said today at his lecture in Reduta 2. He spoke about Tavernier’s uneasy relationship with Hollywood, where the director tried to make independent and critical films, and even with France, where he isn’t all that popular because he doesn’t support local patriotism. Abdollahzadeh also explained the director’s exceptional camera work, which he illustrated using excerpts from his films, “Tavernier is the only French director – with the exception of Jean Renoir – who adopts such unique and distinctive visual style.” Abdollahzadeh was, however, also critical, “I think he isn’t always completely honest in his films, which means there’s a gap between him and his audience. Plus he’s not able to put in his films everything he thinks about – if he was, he would be a better director than Jean-Luc Godard.”
One of the objectives of this year’s Summer Film School is to present Alexander Hammid (Hackenschmied), a distinctive director and a versatile person. The Q&A with his son Tino and Michal Bregant, the director of the National Film Archive, who had been in touch with Hammid, served as a great addition to the festival section dedicated to this director. “The section of Saša’s films was a big project that’s proving to be a great success as I can see during all screenings,” Bregant said. He and Tino spoke about Hammid’s work and personal relationships during his life in the USA. They stressed that the Hammid family played an important role within New York’s community of the Czechoslovaks in exile. Tino Hammid became – like his parents – a photographer. He assisted his father during the making of two films, We Are Young and Us.
During yesterday’s discussion at Reduta 2, Mylène Bresson talked about her husband’s unrealized project Genesis, “It was to be Robert’s most expensive film. The Americans showed some interest but they made stupid demands. For example, they wanted God to speak English, not Hebrew. They even argued that Adam and Eve shouldn’t be naked, which is a complete nonsense.” Bresson also said that she doesn’t agree with her husband’s portrayal as a loner who never belonged to any movement, “He kept his public life separate from his personal life, that much is true. He didn’t feel a real connection with the French New Wave — he was the oldest of them. But when they say he had no friends, it isn’t true. He was surrounded by many people he worked with on a regular basis.” Bresson herself met her husband when she started working as his assistant.
The director Ladislav Kaboš met the main protagonist of his latest film All My Children, Marián Kuffa, 15 years ago and he’s already made four films about him. The one about the attempt of this idealistic priest to help in Roma settlements draw the highest number of viewers out of all Slovak’s documentaries of the post-revolution era, with 25,000 tickets sold. Kaboš said that people, unlike the Slovak officials, are interested in this pressing issue. “We invited several politicians to the first screening, including the government commissioner for Roma issues but nobody turned up,” the director added.
“Maroš” Kuffa keeps the inhabitants of Roma settlements in supply of the essentials and teaches them to build simple stone houses instead their dilapidated shacks. Kabeš said that Kuffa set out on his mission mainly because of the innocent children. While the results of his work might not be immediately visible, Kaboš recalled how shocked he’d been when he’d recently visited one of the settlements, “When we arrived, I saw that some of the houses were actually fenced off.” Something like that would have never happened before. Kuffa is a role model – thanks to the donations from businessmen, his presbytery in Žakovce has grown into a giant social compound helping alcoholics, released criminals and the homeless; the American embassy has recently sent there a platoon of cadets for a study visit. The vigorous priest believes that “humanity is above the law”– thus he “omits” to file for construction permits while building new houses in the settlements or doesn’t hesitate to place a homeless person with acute appendicitis in hospital under someone else’s ID and insurance. “They couldn’t believe their eyes when they found out that they’d operated two people with the same insurance number,” the director laughs.
Zuzana Piussi keeps exploring Slovak’s sensitive political affairs, and because of that she’s considered a troublemaker – not wishing to be sued, Slovak TV doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. Today, the director has introduced two of her documentaries. Shelter Story tells a story of Koliba, Slovak film studios, whose resources were shamelessly misappropriated. “The people who appear in the film then founded their own cinema fund that decides which films to support. Because of my documentary, I haven’t received any money for five years,” Piussi said. The Disease of the Third Power reveals the extent of the corruption within Slovak judiciary that surprised even the director herself, “I was shocked that some judges had no connection with reality whatsoever, as if they lived in a world different from ours.”
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