Berlinale 2021 - EFM
Country Focus: Czech Republic
How to shoot a film during a global pandemic: the EFM presents a case study on Radu Jude's Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
- BERLINALE 2021: The panel from the Berlinale Co-Production Market centred on the Romanian director's latest film, shot in Bucharest during the pandemic last summer
One of the panels organised by this year's Berlinale Co-Production Market centred on the making of Radu Jude's Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn [+see also:
interview: Radu Jude
film profile], shot in Bucharest during the coronavirus pandemic last summer. Originally set to be filmed under normal circumstances, the production team had to suddenly rethink their work schedule and adapt it to the ongoing emergency. The Romanian-Czech-Croatian-Luxembourgian co-production represents an important case study that may inspire or set the example for other independent productions.
Martina Bleis opened the talk by explaining that the project was presented just a year ago at the Co-Production Market and that the purpose of the panel was to find out how the team managed to complete it in so little time, despite the challenges posed by the outbreak. The floor was then given to Naomi Levari from Black Sheep Film Productions, who was tasked to moderate the conversation and introduce the speakers, namely Ada Solomon from Romania's MicroFILM, Paul Thiltges from Luxembourg's Paul Thiltges Distributions, Ankica Jurić Tilić from Croatia's Kinorama, Jiří Konečný from Czech Republic's Endorfilm, Ioanna Stais from sales outlet Heretic and, of course, director Radu Jude.
Radu Jude touched upon the themes of Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn and its peculiar, freeform, tripartite structure, highlighting the fact that the film is not “about” a story — the movie mostly follows a school teacher (Katia Pascariu), who finds her reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet — but rather “around” the story.
Speaking about the co-production effort, Solomon said that at the beginning, the production only had two applications submitted to the Romanian and Croatian national film agencies and explained that she had already established long, profitable partnerships with her colleagues, with the aim of making a “co-production of small countries, but efficient ones.”
Next, Jurić Tilić and Thiltges agreed that they were both dragged into the project because of their admiration for Jude's work, but also, for Jurić Tilić, because she understood that the themes tackled had the potential to be appreciated beyond Romania. Konečný also praised the collaboration of the Czech Film Fund and their commitment in supporting minority co-productions.
Jude added that there was scepticism about the project among some of his former partners and pointed out the importance of the Co-Production Market as a place to “gain confidence” in the project and bolster partnerships. Speaking about the film's preparation, Solomon said that the discussions and brainstorming sessions the producers had during the first lockdown were crucial to continuing the project. She also explained that one of the driving forces was Jude's urgency to tell the story, despite the health emergency and the lack of financial support from Romanian authorities.
Concerning the decision to implement the pandemic within the narrative, Jude said that after the first lockdown, he had to choose between two options: to make the film immediately or to wait for the late autumn, with the hope that the pandemic would have ended by then. Jude decided not to wait, so the pandemic became part of the film and its making; the idea behind this was to not shy away from this troubled historical moment, but in fact to make it visible and to “store” it. The other priority was to protect the cast and the crew members. To minimise risk, the team enforced social distancing, continually tested everyone and had a dedicated medical crew monitoring people's temperature. “We only had short lunch breaks eating sandwiches and I moved some scenes from interior to exterior locations. [..] Somehow, it was like practising martial arts. Masters say there's no situation you cannot turn in your favour,” Jude said. In line with this spirit, for example, masks became a proper costume item capable of delivering meanings and reflecting the characters' personality.
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