I’m waking up on the third floor of a really nice hotel in Bratislava. Getting ready quickly, putting some World Of Shorts issue to my bag as business cards, drinking my coffee, checking the emails, saying ’Dovidenia’ to the porter, then starting my way to the headquarters of the Visegrad Film Forum.
My surname in hungarian is ’Bratislavian’. Bratislavian goes to Bratislava, almost every friend of mine mentioned it to me before I left, but I don’t blame them, I’m sure it sounds funny. But what exactly happening here, in the heart of Slovakia, in our dear neighbour country? It’s a forum organised entirely by film students – 5 days of workshops and lectures with directors, scriptwriters and other representatives of the film industry, and also special screenings of feature films and short films made by students from different european film schools. Yesterday I was lucky to be a part of a special screening of the oscar nominated ’War Photographer’, in the company of the director Christian Frei himself. The intense and shocking images of the film are still hunting me. The whole forum isvery welcoming and friendly, yesterday I walked up to a director who was giving a lecture before and asked a few questions about his recently shown movie. He was very nice and helpful, it was completely natural to him to talk to a curious stranger. But not just him – almost every director, art designer, cinematographer etc. is very informal and talkative, they stay there after the lecture, and some of them are even coming to the afterparty in the evening. It’s so cool to see the slovakian issue of WOSH in everyone’s hand, but I put out some extra almost every day just in case.
But that’s it about yesterday, because today is a new day. As every morning, I take a nice walk to the university building which is just at the bottom of the castle, so the view is also very classy as I arrive. Thank god for the nice weather, I would like take this moment and give my short acknowledgements to the organizers for picking out a spring date for the forum, it would be a real shame to do my everyday walk in a freezing snowstorm on a depressing day of December. From 10 A.M. there’s a lecture from the master of promoting at Eurimages, while in one of the smaller classrooms, Michael Haneke’s regular cinematographer, Christian Berger gives a special all-day-long lecture for the lucky students. Last night’s ’networking’ (as in drinking within proper limits) went a bit too well for some people, but besides the general hangover, everyone is cheerful.
I have a quick lunch at my new favourite place here, which is a crossover between a bookstore and coffeeshop. I hear soothing jazz in the background while I wait for my sandwich – which is incredibly beautiful by the way, I wish I have a smartphone to share it with the hungry eyes at home. Back at the university, we’re watching a collection of short films from the lithuanian students. A lithuanian(!) journalist girl verifies the question that pops into my mind when I watch the selection: her fellow-countrymen are really this depressed and dark-minded as we see on the big screen? Don’t get me wrong, I liked what I saw, but I didn’t have the motivation for a single smile throughout the whole screening. Well well, us hungarians are also not the bubbliest-happiest people, so who am I to judge.
The last masterclass of the day is coming up with Christian Frei, who is by now my favourite lecturer of the whole forum for sure. He is a very entertaining person, with a nicely broken english and a wonderful sense of humour. At his class, he’s unveiling the genre of documentary, by saying that it needs just as much preparation and manipulation as a fiction film. He is ’coming out’ to us in a way, which is a very honest and honorable deed from him. There’s no time for a break after the masterclass, because the next screening coming up from the students of the romanian film school. The selection of our eastern neighbours is very entertaining and refreshing, so after that we’re heading to this night’s ’networking’ in a great mood. The party continues at the KC Dunaj, where we hang out every evening, and tonight’s program is a very cool indie concert, I really need to remember to write the band’s name down. I drink some wine and hang out for a while, but after that I’m heading back to the hotel to relax for the closing ceremony and afterparty tomorrow, then leave back to Budapest on Sunday morning.
I really liked you Bratislava, and I’m definitely coming back to you, and not just because we share the same name. See you next year VFF!
Dovidenia my dear diary!