Creativity is the key element of a great movie. Visegrad Film Forum Day Three


Behind every great man there’s a great woman. It was very clear during the first Thursday’s masterclass with Colin Arthur and his wife, Sarah Jeanne Arthur, who resoundingly supported him throughout the whole meeting.

The guest shared a handful of anecdotes about making special effects before the times of CGI. He showed pictures which illustrated a couple of his projects, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Clash of the Titans, Conan the Barbarian and many other of his films. The screening of a Spanish short-movie, El Spantapajaros, made the audience hoot with laughter. Colin Arthur also told the participants about various methods he used to create his spectacular effects and gave the students some advice about the importance of good communication and cooperation on a film set. If you will listen to your special effects men, you could achieve nearly everything, he assured. Despite the fact that he had created special effects in a traditional way in most of his movies, he believes that CGI is just another tool that provides more possibilities in the field of special effects. 

A puppet-animated advertisement of a drink called Guarana Brasil [now Guaraná Antarctica] with cheerful toucans was a lovely touch. We have learnt that it took almost 30 hours to create these puppets. At the end of the meeting Mr. and Mrs. Arthur told the story of their many-year-long relationship. 

The next scheduled event on Thursday was the second part of school encounters. During the screening we saw films from the Jesuit Cairo School (Egypt) and FAMO Pisek (Czech Republic). Again, the films represented different approaches and topics. This time it was clearly due to the fact that these two schools function in completely different ways. The three Egyptian movies were final projects of a one-year course; two of them were documentaries shot with a mobile phone, while the third one was a short feature. On the other hand, the Czech shorts had much bigger budgets and professional equipment at hand. 

Unfortunately, due to the absence of Sergei Loznitsa, the afterwards master class was cancelled. Instead, the organizers arranged an exclusive screening of the director’s latest, controversial document, Austerlitz. The movie presents raw shots of tourists who visit Sachsenhausen concentration camp and behave in an inappropriate or at least arguable manner.

The next case study and the last event of the day concerned an adventure film, Menandros and Thaïs, which is an adaptation of a novel written by Ondřej Cikán. The movie is an Austrian and Czech co-production. It’s a fantasy story about a young married couple, who gets separated shortly after their wedding. The film is an original, low-budget experiment. After the screening, Zuzana Walter (editor) and Anna Tydlitátová (producer) told more details about the process of creating Menandros and Thaïs. One of the most interesting trivia they mentioned was that they spent a full year on the whole production, going back and forth between shooting and editing. Moreover, they were able to encourage people to take part in the project despite the lack of funding.

The film stirred up mixed feelings among the audience as well as school professors. Some of them were positively astonished at the idea and the others were rather sceptical about the whole project, although they didn’t want to specify why.

Day 3 of the VFF was a mixture of different styles and genres. Even if it was a bit chaotic at times, it provided the audience with a wide variety of options from which anyone could choose something that corresponded with their taste. 

© Maciej Sztąberek & Filip Koszlaga & Magdalena Popłońska & Zuza Woźniak