28/5 — 1/6 & 9 — 15/9/2021
61st International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
12. 9. 2021

Sunday 12 September: A boom box on an electric scooter

My day starts with a beautiful tableau: a little girl comes walking up to the Moskva Hotel with a magic wand in her hand. Walking up to the sliding doors, she waves her magic wand and the doors open. She comes out again to do it once more: waving her stick, sliding doors, … she is so proud. She does magic!

Today’s schedule is crazy. With the help from Mila and Petra, I start interviewing the juries. They all try to answer my questions very seriously (which feels weird, as the whole concept is mainly about ‘asking silly questions’) – you’ll soon be reading the result here on this webpage. In between I interview Bertrand Desrochers about A BRIXTON TALE. I threatened his scriptwriter Rupert that if he wouldn’t show up for the interview, he would forever go by the name of Rupert the Coward. So it will be! On our first meeting I already asked Rupert (the Coward) to suggest me a particularly nasty question for Bertrand, one that would make him freak out. “What gives you, as a non-coloured Canadian, the right to shoot a film in Brixton?” Bertrand doesn’t even blink: “That is actually a very interesting question…

 

It is funny and rather unexpected that these festival blogs generate several reactions. Bertrand is sending them home to his family: “If you want to know how I’m doing, read it here.” So if we publish that I saw him last night being picked up by the police, wearing (nothing but) bowling shoes and a top-hat, loudly shouting “Let me go, I’m the Canadian Oscar winner!” chances are real that his family might believe it. The one phrase that started living a life on its own, is what was written earlier about getting the festival programmers on stage during the opening ceremony. Several people, including influential voices from juries and delegations, came to confirm the statement. “After all they’ve given us, they shouldn’t go unnoticed.

 

I have a million reasons for coming to Zlin, but Felix will always have one more: he is a car-spotter, adoring all the sportive vehicles in Czech Republic, like the classy Mustang GT in front of the hotel, which for him is pure eye candy. Today I told him about a spectacular specimen I saw; it had two eagle-wings as a logo. “Ah, then it’s a Chevrolet. But did it have square or round headlights?” How the hell am I supposed to know?!? I noticed another sports car, only because of its silly personalised license plate that spelled in proud letters: ‘pro sseco’.

 

Already two times this week I met former festival workers at the city streets, welcoming me enthusiastically. Like Anna, who had her gorgeous one month old baby with her. Only a few years ago, she was the one bringing the best home-brewed Slivovitz from her grandfather to the festival. When locals start recognizing you at the streets, it means you must feel somehow at home. When bartenders recognize you at the streets, it means that either you’ve been coming here for a long time, or you have been spending too much time in the Irish pub.

 

Also Zuzka goes way back in my festival memories. If there was something like Jury Guide City, she would have her statue on the main square. She was new on the job when I first came here, and now she’ll soon be giving birth…  and still she’s doing the job as no other! We chat about our lives and families. She’ll do great as a mother, I’m sure! For many years she was also the chaperone of the lamented Rock Demers, on his visits to Zlin. Talking with her is like an oasis of quietness on a hectic day.

 

By the way: our Hungarian friends Nora and Agnies were asked today to move to a bigger hotel room. They now have two sets of pebble stone decoration furniture!

 

We’re starting the ECFA meeting with the sound of the Zlin marathon in the background. It was – truly and honestly – a very nice meeting. We have about 15 organisations represented here, which is only the top of the iceberg, and many of them are new to the association, coming with new faces and fresh spirit. All of a sudden, members like Ennesimo (Italy), Play (Portugal) and Association Seven (Bulgaria) are getting a face, and that face looks dedicated, funny and enthusiastic. Several have come here especially for the meeting, like Helen, a new representative from Black Nights (Estonia) who drops by completely unexpected.

 

After the meeting, I feel exhausted and I’m having difficulties getting my speech and thoughts together, even if I would love to get to know our guests in person. I make an early escape from the festival’s rooftop party and decide to wait for the others in the hotel. After I left, ECFA seems to have set the party on fire. Nora tells the orchestra it is her birthday, and the real dancing can start.

 

Later, with everyone back at the hotel, the thing happens which we’ve all been dreaming of for a long time. It happens in front of the Irish pub, where a bunch of crazy ECFA girls decides to get the party started, dancing on the pavement. Let’s write not too much about it, as that might ruin the magic of the memory. Because magic it truly was, and it was glorious, and overwhelming, and powerful. Many things happened: there was Felix observing the pandemonium with a smile on his face, sighing out loud: “I’ve been working for 30 years to keep ECFA going and now this is what I get as a result?” There was crazy dancing to good songs and bad songs, and a boom box arriving with flickering lights on an electric scooter, and a growing group of people – locals and festival workers – dragged onto the sidewalk dancefloor by ECFA’s finest for a delirious celebration that continued for hours. Every time when I stepped back to observe the scene, there was always somebody – no matter who – bending over with a grin on his / her face, shouting in my ear: “Isn’t it great to see people having fun again?