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Jakub Viktorin • Director, Visegrad Film Forum

“Visegrad is just the core and a symbol for wider co-operation”


- Bringing big names to students in Central Europe, this year’s Visegrad Film Forum was a huge success. Cineuropa spoke to its director, Jakub Viktorin

Jakub Viktorin  • Director, Visegrad Film Forum

Born in 1990, Jakub Viktorin started the Visegrad Film Forum (VFF) in 2011 as a student of production at the Bratislava Academy of Performing Arts. This educative event, which at first attracted film students from Visegrad Group countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary – has grown into a gathering hosting lecturers such as Bence Fliegauf, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jim Stark, Fred Kelemen, Roberto Olla and, this year, three-time Oscar winner Christopher Newman, co-director of Salvo [+see also:
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Fabio Grassadonia and controversial Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, as well as drawing in students from 15 countries.

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Cineuropa: How did you start the event, where did the idea come from, and how do you manage to secure these great filmmakers and famous people?
Jakub Viktorin:
We started the VFF as part of the student festival at our film school in Bratislava. It is always part of the duties of the production students to organise a festival, and we decided to add this international platform to it. We were missing a platform like this in the region. Our benchmarks were events such as Training Ground in Portugal or Berlinale Talents. 

Regarding the big names, there is no secret behind it; we just ask those people if they are available and interested in coming. In general, we have had good experiences with established filmmakers who want to share their knowledge. 

It's interesting that this kind of event comes from students themselves. How did you work with the film school to realise the project?
At first, it was an obligation for our studies as part of the student festival, and then in the second year we just wanted to do it again, and though that festival was now run by our younger schoolmates, it was successful once again. The third time around, it was part of the work for my master's degree, and the whole crew was motivated to do it again because they liked the outcome of it the last time. Now, for the fourth time, it was organised by the core team, a team in which most of us aren't students anymore, though during the event, there are plenty of students in the crew.

The school was very helpful regarding organisational matters. I think that there would be no point in organising this in our local environment if the school wasn't our partner. Also, we have strong support from some of the teachers at the school. 

Where do you get the funding from? What is the budget? 
The funding is mostly public, from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and the International Visegrad Fund. Then we also get money from the embassies and cultural institutes of the countries that our guests come from. We also have in-kind partners who provide cars and equipment.

This year, the budget was a little over €20,000, and it was quite tough to organise it on a proper level. I would like to say that we are very thankful to our interns (we created a special subject in the school for interns who then get credit from professors for helping us) and volunteers. There would be no forum were it not for them. 

I see you are widening the focus from Visegrad countries to their neighbours. Do you plan to go even wider?
We widened the focus for the third edition. The title “Visegrad” means four countries, but we did not want to limit it just to this region. This is why we choose really active schools outside of it [Bucharest, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vilnius], to enhance the international co-operation. So Visegrad is just the core and a symbol for wider co-operation, as more countries in the region of Central and Eastern Europe start to share a similar culture.

To broaden our official co-operation geographically would probably be too much for our budget. However, we welcome any participants from all over the world. This year, we had people from more than 15 countries. The costs of participation (accreditation, accommodation and board) are quite cheap in Bratislava, and as we are close to the airport in Vienna, there is no problem getting here from any part of Europe. 

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