A Short Manual to the “Lexicon” Programme Section

One of our film festival’s principal missions is to expand cinemagoers’ horizons, bring them films they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see, point out recent trends within cinema and society and highlight them from different, preferably unexpected angles.

 

The newly-introduced programme section entitled Lexicon: Aspect Ratio is perhaps the most tangible outcome of these efforts. However unimaginative it may sound, this section has a strong educational dimension to it as it draws festival-goers’ attention to the picture frame, its shape and aspect ratio; nevertheless, we firmly believe that the motion pictures in our selection are sufficiently spectacular to make cinemagoers enjoy them and appreciate their technical specifics at the same time.

 

In order to whet your appetite, or rather offer you an opportunity to learn more about the subject, the following text includes a number of links to videos that comprehensively explain the effects different aspect ratios tend to have on the viewer’s perception of films.

 

Those of you who have seen the film, Mommy, certainly remember the confined feeling evoked by the narrow picture format and “inhaling” of the main character once the format got wider. Those of you who remember seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel perhaps noticed that the film used different aspect ratios, depending on which historical period the action was set in. Chosen aspect ratio certainly has psychological effects on the viewer; for further details, please check out this short video by Jack Nugent (Now You See It).

 

 

Like every aspect of cinema, the aspect ratio has its history. Ever since the Lumière brothers, most filmmakers used the aspect ratio of 4:3; however, the things began to change in the 1950s as the Hollywood re-discovered the anamorfic format. A brief history of the aspect ratio can be found in this video by Filmmaker IQ.

 

 

An interesting situation arose during the interim period when filmmakers continued to use the academic 1.37:1 while the widescreen picture was becoming increasingly popular. Using the example of the film, On the Waterfront, a video essay by The Criterion Collection shows that some films were shot in a way that allowed for their projection in different aspect ratios.

 

 

But nothing is simple in the creative world of cinema. The existence of several standardised formats did not prevent filmmakers from experimenting. One of the most famous examples was Polyvision, a system created by Abel Gance for the motion picture, Napoleon. This system was later developed by Polyekran, a Czechoslovak system introduced at EXPO Brusel in 1958, or the Canadian system of multiple screens (e.g. In the Labyrinth, a film presented at EXPO Montreal in 1967), which inspired many auteurs (e.g. Richard Fleischer, Norman Jewison, Brian De Palma or Jaime Rosales) to experiment with so-called splitscreen in their films.

 

 

So, it is plain to see that recent experimenting with the aspect ratio, of which perhaps the most distinct is Lucifer, the latest film by Belgian director Gust Van den Berghe, has influential forefathers. Yet it seems that the recent rise of digital technologies encourages filmmakers to think “outside the box”, as it is demonstrated by a video essay by Dutch magazine, De Filmkrant.

 

 

As we all know, mobile telephony has changed a lot of things already. Among recent development trends is the increasingly popular vertical picture format. Although this way of filming is mocked by most filmmakers, there are also those who advocate it such as Miriam Ross, senior lecturer at Victoria University in New Zealand. Two years ago, a special programme of experimental films was established under the name of Vertical Cinema.

 

 

To make matters even more complicated, the picture format can also be changed within the set frame, as it is demonstrated by one of the films in our selection, Horse Money. Regardless of the “set” aspect ratio of 1.37:1, director Pedro Costa changes the picture format as he sees fit by using different forms and styles of lighting. Another alternative is to use the frame-in-frame technique, something director Rúnar Rúnarsson repeatedly did in his latest film, Sparrows. Even though the aspect ratio is set at 1.85:1, it is de facto a vertical picture.

 

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Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.

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.