Director meets with film students

«European cinema is not at its best; let’s just say it’s a bit feverish,» acclaimed filmmaker Theodoros Angelopoulos said to the members of the European Youth Jury, who are all students of film schools, at the French Institute. The up-and-coming filmmakers had many questions for the internationally distinguished Greek director about film schools, the role of film festivals, the international career of small cinematic productions and the way new filmmakers learn about cinema. On his part, Angelopoulos had much to say. «There is a huge number of film festivals. The Cannes Film Festival is an institution that has its own character,» Angelopoulos said. «Small film festivals, like the ones that take place in Greece, must have a raison d’etre. Where do we lay the emphasis, on commercial value or on creation? These are two notions that cannot be joined. At Montreal, I saw Kyriakos Katzourakis’s latest film, which I think is amazing, but it will not be successful at the box office,» he added, pointing out that one of festival obligations is to bring out such films. «A film exists when there is one only spectator. When the filmmaker’s eye crosses paths with the spectator’s, then the result is born. There are films that the wider audience cannot comprehend. One must become initiated in cinema.» Angelopoulos lingered on the crisis that Europe is currently facing. Who is to blame? «Could it be the fact that European societies are going through a cultural crisis? Is Europe seeking her identity? Cinema is already an international language. The problem lies with the ideas. During the dictatorship, we would film movies because of our desire to resist. One needs a motive in order to do something. Modern societies have sunk in absolute consumerism. Even cinema receives this treatment.» The young filmmakers asked Angelopoulos how he sees the modern ways of screening films. «We see a film through our own eyes, which are our internal gaze,» he said. «If we manage to communicate, then that is a small miracle. That is the only reason I love movie theaters.» Angelopoulos was asked if he would opt for a digital camera, like Abbas Kiarostami did. «It depends,» he answered, «if I encountered the same difficulties that Kiarostami did… The digital camera freed him, which was possibly what he was looking for. Everything is acceptable, as long as one can create his own, personal cinema.» Regarding film schools, he brought up his old suggestion of founding a Film Academy at the former American base in Nea Makri and inviting directors from Southern Europe to teach. «Let’s be realistic, let’s seek the impossible,» he said. «I cannot accept the compromise that the Thessaloniki Film School has turned into. In my opinion it is a mistake, caused by the previous and the current governments.» The young students also met with French actor Melvil Poupaud last Friday and Sally Potter on Saturday.

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