Mini interview: Alena Sabuchová

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.

When a free moment pops up in her hectic freelancer life, she likes to spend it talking with her friends, with a cup of strong coffee and a good meal, with books she carries everywhere, but she is also fascinated by film. Good film.

Ali, to me, you are a perfect embodiment of today’s femme fatale – a young, elegant, cultured woman with her own view of the world, the strength to look for the beauty and quality in it, as well as the determination to fight against its dishonesty. All this while staying on top of things, with humour and charm. I consider you to be a very inspiring person, perhaps even as an influencer. That is why I am interested in your view of the present. Why do you feel that cultural events (be it festivals or going to the cinema, theatre, concerts, exhibitions, etc.) are important and should be supported?

Thank you very much for this extensive compliment, it’s probably going to take me a while to process, especially today, when earlier I walked out of my apartment to pick up my takeaway delivery with bronchitis, messy hair and in my pj’s. The courier must have thought more femmes fatales like this! I wouldn’t say I’m an influencer either. My Instagram account is set to private and I can’t really use filters to make the pictures of my food look good, so I don’t think I deserve the label J But let’s get back to the question. I think that culture and art are of great importance in the cultivation and formation of society. It teaches people to ask, think, search for answers, dig in the past and present, and compare. The aesthetic experience, the catharsis, the feeling or the experience that they carry with them is also significant. Last but not least, it’s about sharing the experience with others – going to the cinema, a festival, or a concert incites discussion, exchange of views and plurality of insights. We also need to support them because that way we can support the creators themselves. Without audience, culture or art would be of little importance.

You studied screenwriting and dramaturgy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and before that cultural studies at the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University and Charles University in Prague. You have been working with art for a long time. How do you choose what films you want to see?

I always say that film is about chemistry. Okay, I say that probably about everything, but often things have to work on some essence, on something you maybe can’t knowingly grasp or name, but want to experience. Sometimes, of course, a good script or theme is enough. Or music. Or the right mix of all these. Sometimes the director’s name is a guarantee. For example, that of Jim Jarmusch has not disappointed me once.

Sometimes the story doesn’t need to be a grand one. It’s enough to tell it well. And that, for example, is something the already mentioned Jarmusch knows how to do. To me, a good film means that I don’t want to check my phone for new e-mails when I’m in the screening room, or look at the watch to see how much time until it’s over. A good film is one that I will talk about, because I didn’t forget it the next day. A significant of a good film is a memorable emotion, an image that will randomly pop up in my mind weeks after I’ve seen the film.

Do you need to see it in the cinema or will a laptop do?

There are films that ask for a big screen and deserve it. For example, the latest Gaspar Noé wasn’t made for a 13-inch screen. And I must admit, even though I was crazy tired at the premiere and almost fell asleep, it was a very strong experience and I went to see it again. In the cinema. However, there are, of course, more chamber films or older films you can watch even at home, lying on your sofa, and that’s okay. Or you want to see a blockbuster but aren’t yearning for the multiplex experience and popcorn-chewing crowds.

Why do you think it’s worth going to a film festival?

Ever since university, film festivals have been an experience for me. An experience of perception, getting to know films, people and creators. Personally, they give me an overview in one place at a particular time. I remember when we as students watched one film after another and didn’t even read their catalogue annotations. Since we had the time, we’d pick films at random. Sometimes we didn’t quite hit the spot, sometimes we saw films we wouldn’t have watched had we read the synopses. To this day, a film festival is part of my work, but even from the visitor’s side – I’m fascinated by the atmosphere it creates. It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories.

I’m assuming you have already peeked in the festival programme. Try to give our viewers your tips on what to see.

Winter Flies is a film I can’t miss, since I’m a big fan of stories with child protagonists, but also because it looks like a really good road movie. I look forward to seeing Girl about a boy who feels he was born into the wrong body and wants to become a ballet dancer. I am also curious about the film Putin’s Witnesses, which was a made-to-order film commissioned to the director Mansky shortly after Putin came to power. The Romanian film “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” tells the story of a young artist who is trying to shed light on the crimes of the Romanian army, but is met with no appreciation or understanding. I also look forward to Rafiki. It looks like a film about Africa as we don’t often see it. And if there’s enough time, I’ll also watch Knife + Heart with Vanessa Paradis to spice it up with a bit of tension.

 

 

Thank you for the interview.
And see you in the cinemas!

 

 

Anna Kačincová Predmerská

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.