25/5 — 1/6/2022
62nd International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
13. 9. 2021

Monday 13 September: “I hate cinema”

Today my favourite film from the entire festival is on. In the documentary BANGLA SURF GIRLS three girls from Bangladesh tell with superb authenticity about their perspectives for the future and how surfing had an impact on that. The film and the contacts with director Elizabeth D Costa got deep under my skin. Jaroslava feels exactly the same and has one school class recording their first reactions, as a gift to the director. The teacher’s statement would sound exactly like mine: “If you girls would have been here, we would have embraced you, stolen you, taken you into our homes and never have let you go for as long as you wanted.

My adult colleagues react a bit more nuanced, but I’m happy that Jaroslava shared my feeling and – as always – is willing to go the extra mile.

This blog is keeping me so obsessed that I almost forget my early morning ECFA board meeting. Arriving a little late, I hear that Felix gave me one of the best compliments ever: “I’ve seen this guy many times partying till daybreak, but that never kept him from attending his meetings the next morning.” How nice to hear!

 

When evaluating yesterday’s meeting, the enthusiasm and orientation of the newcomers is brought to the table. We’ve all grown into our jobs through the traditional film festivals, big or small. But the work of our new members seems more based on social awareness, training children, and hands-on experiences, and less on the classic festival approach. This adds more colour to the rich ECFA palette and should be kept in mind when deciding about the future orientation of our association.

 

Did I tell you about THE MOLE, the most successful programme on Belgian TV? It is an ingenious type of treasure hunt, combined with a trip through some exotic country. For pandemic reasons, last year the destination was less exotic … Czech Republic! I told my family: “If in one episode they’ll arrive to the city of Zlin, we should watch it all together, so that I can introduce you to this place that means so much to me and carries some of my best memories.” When the moment is there, I’m all excitement, gathering the family in front of the TV. What they get to see is a dull city with empty streets and a skyline defined by distant industry under a gloomy deck of clouds. I can read the question marks in the eyes that stare at me: Is this the place you spoke about? For those who’ve never been here, it is impossible to understand.

 

I keep collecting festival jury interviews. The difference between the two juries I get to speak to today couldn’t be bigger. Julia Jarl and Nicola Jones from the ECFA Jury are dear colleagues and friends, and off the interview record we chat about our families. It is lovely to have a moment for myself, talking with these nice ladies about life’s bigger and smaller issues. On the other hand, interviewing an animation jury is always a challenge. In terms of focus and concentration, the one in Zlin is no exception to that. And they seem to have brought along an amazing amount of shoes.

 

Another one of my favourite films in the festival is LAST FILM SHOW (by Pan Nalin), that will soon get a Czech release! It is a sparkling tribute to cinema, told through the eyes of a young boy on the Indian countryside, who gets under the spell of the white screen. Marta Jodko tells how the film was positively evaluated by all women in the AleKino programming committee, but got exceptionally high scores from the men. Because it is a tribute to celluloid, the artisanal craftsmanship of cinema, the story of a child that builds a film projector with his own hands. Unfortunately the film is screened without subtitles, but Felix bravely sits it out: “I didn’t need subtitles to understand the story.” Here is another child of the celluloid generation.

 

So is Zuzana Svancarova, an utterly sweet girl who has her little cabin high up in the Golden Apple Cinema, where she solves all eventual technical film emergencies. Her methods are based upon an interesting theory: “As long as I work barefooted everything passes off smoothly; as soon as I put my shoes on, accidents start to happen.

 

Yesterday evening’s wild party escapades have left deep wounds among the guests. Even literally: jury guide Tereza has returned from the hospital with a broken arm after a nasty fall. Tonight peace and quietness takes hold of the people on the café terrace, but not of Lara and Benedetta from new ECFA member Ennesimo. This is their festival maiden trip, which they are about to complete with grace. The Ennesimo tote bag contains the most original gadget: socks!

 

Felix blows out the midnight candle in style, when being forced into an unwanted conversation. “Are you here with a film?” – “No, I haven’t made a film. I hate cinema!”