5 Questions for Denis Côté

Interview

 

 

 

SG: The main theme of the 19th edition of the Bratislava International Film Festival is film acting. In your film All That She Wants (2007), which has just screened as a part of your profile section at the Bratislava IFF, you use actors almost as models, similarly to Robert Bresson’s “actor-model” technique. Could you tell me more about the process of finding your actors and how you shaped them into the characters you wanted them to be?

DC: This film is a very specific example because it is completely inspired by my cinephilia. I was a film critic from 1995 to 2005. And this film was shot in 2007. I had ten years of watching films behind me and I had one million dollars to make this film. So I was like – OK, I have to put there everything I love. And I was totally into non-actors. Because, come on, why have stars. I was eager to fight with all those acting tics. So it is nice that you said they looked like models. This slowness, rhythm and black and white was totally inspired by Béla Tarr, Robert Bresson and my favourite filmmakers. Now, ten years later, I am much more myself, with my own identity and I do not copy.

 

 

SG: In terms of film quantity, you are like a Canadian version of Woody Allen. How come you are able to make films that fast?

DC: Well, people say I am prolific, but it really depends. I am not an ambitious person. I think I am just somebody who wants to make films. Sometimes I’m going to make a one million dollar film and then I switch to a very small budget film. A Skin So Soft is my tenth film and I made it for 45,000 euro. There is a lot of directors that grow older and always want to make bigger and bigger productions because they are ambitious. I just see my work as a brick wall and every brick is a film. Sometimes it is a small brick, sometimes it is a bigger brick. So that is why I am not afraid to just start making another film, even without the script, just start with nothing but an idea.

 

 

SG: Can you imagine creating series or 3D Hollywood productions – just for fun, just as a form of experiment?

DC: I don’t think so. Where I live, I am considered a marginal filmmaker. People respect me because I travel all around the world with my films, but I don’t make money and people don’t come to see my films. Well, they will never give me enough money for that so therefore I am not dreaming, I am not imagining I’d make a huge Hollywood film. I am just doing my small films and I am fine.

 

 

SG: You are very skilled in building specific tension in narration as well as in atmosphere gradation. This applies both for your short and feature films. Still, is there a form you like better? Do you prefer telling a story with a short or with a feature form?

DC: Well, I’ve made shorts, but they were kind of accidental. It started when I was proposed to make a short film. And then there is this small bizarre film that I made in winter and we made it in two days, because we were bored. But when you are older and you write a script, writing short stories just doesn’t really attract you anymore. I don’t think I am going to make shorts again. Even though I like the short film platform very much. But when you start writing, it is really difficult to finish after 8 minutes.

 

 

SG: You are going to introduce four films at the Bratislava IFF – All That She Wants, A Skin So Soft, Bestiaire and Curling. If you could choose one, which one would you recommend?

I think I would recommend Curling.

 

 

Saša Gabrižová

 

 

Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018

“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”

 

Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.

“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”

 

Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.

“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”

 

Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

“All women have the power to change things”

 

Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.

“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”

 

Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.

Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”

Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.

“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”

 

Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.

The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.

The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.

Made In CZ/SK is one of Bratislava IFF loadbearing sections. In connection with the recent one-hundredth anniversary of the formation of the First Czechoslovak Republic, the section reflects a continuous and successful filmmaking cooperation of the two neighbouring countries. This year’s selection will present several recent films, some of which also originated in Czech-Slovak co-production.