Newman, Grassadonia, Cviková and Brügger inspired the Visegrad Film Forum
by Martin Kudlac & Vladan Petkovic
- The fourth Visegrad Film Forum in Bratislava welcomed famous international figures who led master classes for Central European film students
After four days, the fourth edition of the international educational and networking platform Visegrad Film Forum wrapped on 14 March. The event welcomed film students and up-and-coming industry professionals from the region, and offered a variety of master classes led by seasoned professionals, which raised the curtain on the inner workings of the film industry at The Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. In between the lectures, the attendees had a chance to watch works produced by their peers at one of the partner schools from Vilnius, Budapest, Bucharest, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Prague and Lodz, representing a promising new crop of talents.
The event kicked off with a bang: three-time Academy Award winner Christopher Newman, the sound designer on films such as The Exorcist, The English Patient and Amadeus, introduced the screening of The Godfather and, the next day, shared his priceless experience at a six-hour master class with participating students. Furthermore, he led practical exercises in film sound recording and mixing over the next three days with smaller groups of students who are training in the field.
“I have to say that my American students don't have nearly the same knowledge about film that students in Europe, and especially at this event, have demonstrated,” Newman pointed out.
Fabio Grassadonia, one half of the directing duo (along with Antonio Piazza, who could not make it to Bratislava owing to illness) behind the award-festooned mafia drama Salvo [+see also:
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film profile], delivered a comprehensive account of his beginnings as a literature teacher and his road to his feature debut, having had no vocational training in filmmaking. Grassadonia spiced his narrative up with anecdotes about working in public television under Berlusconi’s rule and collaborating with Dino de Laurentiis’ nephew, Aurelio. As part of the lecture, the Sicilian director dissected the transition from the short film Rita to the feature format of Salvo, offering unique insights and practical observations while freely answering any questions from the students in attendance. “I would have liked to go deeper into some aspects of storytelling, staging, editing and sound design,” confessed the Italian director, though in the end, the master class took a different turn, which was tailored to the actual requests of the attendees: “I talked more about scripts and good European workshops for script development,” he remarked, which just goes to show the flexibility found at the Visegrad Film Forum. “Meeting well-established professionals can be interesting and encouraging, and having a break from routine study is always energising,” Grassadonia summed up.
Matthieu Darras, head of programmes at TorinoFilmLab, moderated the lecture and sees “the activities organised very much answering the needs and desires of apprentice filmmakers”, while also providing networking opportunities for film students across the region.
The former head of programming at the Doha Film Institute, Ludmila Cviková, an independent film curator and advisor boasting 15 years’ experience working for the International Film Festival Rotterdam as well as being a consultant for Karlovy Vary and Sarajevo, among others, provided an introductory lecture on the world of festivals, explaining how programmers work and adding some information about the “dos and don’ts” of submitting your film to festivals while also shedding light on film funds.
Finally, controversial Danish journalist and filmmaker Mads Brügger presented his films Red Chapel and Ambassador, and in addition to taking part in extensive Q&As after the screenings, he held a master class called “Beyond Role Playing”. In his dynamic and inspiring lecture, Brügger explained his methods for finding and using loopholes not only in the law, but also in film financing and, crucially, human nature, which have enabled him to present himself plausibly as a comedian or diplomat in order to get to the bottom of the problems he was investigating and, eventually, captured in award-winning films. He spoke about the dangers he had faced in North Korea and the Central African Republic, and the occasionally absurd ways in which he managed to avoid them.
“I'm very interested and fond of this region, Central Europe, and I was happy to lead master classes at Jihlava and here at the Visegrad Film Forum,” Brügger told Cineuropa. “It's an excellent and valuable event for the students, who are curious and very attentive, and I have been treated fantastically here. Thumbs up for Visegrad Film Forum!”