Every year, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival collects a great selection of short films, made by film students and graduates from various countries of Europe. With their unique style, vision and brave mix of genres, the 10 newcomer directors of the Future Frames are showing a promising future for the European cinema. We made a short interview with all directors who got selected, meet Tonći Gaćina, director of the documentary short film Turizam! (Tourism!).
Director’s bio: Tonci graduated from Split’s Academy of Fine Arts (Department of Film and Video) in 2010 and completed studies in Film & TV Directing (documentary) at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb in 2015. He has worked as a director, director of photography and camera assistant on numerous productions. Tonci’s medium-length documentary TOURISM! had its international premiere at the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon in April after screening at ZagrebDox this February.
Turizam!: Every summer towns and cities on the Croatian coast double their population through the influx of tourists from all over the world. Tourism is today the biggest part of the Croatian economy, and it often looks like it may be the only one. Tourism! traces the fragments of various stories along the Croatian coast. Some of the locals catch and farm fish, some prepare it, and some entertain the guests… The life cycle appears never to end; faces, identities, emotions and results transcend towns and locations.
What was your first thought when you realized you got into the Future Frames?
We where really happy that after almost two years in production, our film will take it’s place in important festival, and in a really important program that is Future Frames. It’s a huge thing for any upcoming director to know that your film will be noticed and screened to as many audience as possible especially international one.
How do you prepare for the festival? What do you expect from it?
I expect to meet some nice people and to share a couple of drinks 🙂 Also I can’t wait an opportunity to screen my film in Karlovy Vary, since I feel it is a perfect place to screen a film about tourism.
How is the film education in your school? Do you get funds for your short films there?
Academy of dramatic art in Zagreb (ADU) is mainly divided in eight departments: acting, theatre and radio directing, dance, dramaturgy, cinematography, editing (sound and picture) and film and TV directing. So there is an exchange of knowledge and learning between students of a different departments. Film education of directors is based on combinations of fiction, TV and documentary directing with emphasis on fiction on the BA programme, and fiction and documentary departments on the MA programme. So if you enroll in MA documentary studies you get a chance to make a couple of documentaries and to focus only on documentary filmmaking. For me this was important since I finished my BA diploma on Film and Video at the Academy of Fine Arts in Split, and then I decided to make documentaries. So a MA study on the Academy in Zagreb was a perfect for me.
Diploma films for both BA and MA of the ADU Zagreb, get founded from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), by the contract between the HAVC and ADU, since student productions are not eligible for the main film production fund. The HAVC cover the basic production costs like travel expenses, camera equipment, technical crew, etc. Also the ADU chips in with camera, light and sound equipment. For our film there was also an possibility to apply to the city of Split film fund, which we did, since I am from Split, and parts where filmed in Split.
Why did you decide to make a film about the touristic system of the Adriatic? Did you have a personal experience there?
During the past ten years and especially the past couple of years Split started to see an increase in tourist arrivals. It started to become and destination, rather than a transitional town. So things started to happen, and the city started to change it’s shape. This was an inspiration to make a film about tourism, since more and more strange attractions opened every summer. Also for someone who was born there and who lived there for most of his life, it’s an interesting to see the change in living between the winter and summer. This contrast inspired me to turn on the camera during one packed summer.
How long was the shooting? How much time did you spent with your characters?
Film was shot in the summer of 2014 in thirty five days, during a three months period. It was a long and hot summer 🙂 With some characters I spent just a day, and with other weeks. It really depended on the place and the function each scene would have in a film. For example, a scene with a fish farm took only one day to shoot and the scenes on the tourist boats took a week to shoot over the period of couple of months. The best thing of the whole process is an opportunity to meet interesting people and to gain friends.
You are showing the opposite, sometimes negative side of these touristic attractions, how did you convince your characters to show these honest moments in front of the camera?
I was simple and complicated in the same time. I told everyone that I was shooting my diploma film about tourism, and tourist workers in different locations and with different attractions. They all came along with me, and we worked together to make it what it is. So there was not much convincing going on, we where simply working a day together. I think that this mutual compassion came from idea that we worked while others where having fun.
I noticed making fly on the wall / observational documentaries that people relax as soon as they found out that you work really hard during the day. It is hard to imagine someone that isn’t a film professional what it takes to make an observational fifty minute documentary.
For me, the film pictures an ironic circle of life. What do you think about that?
Well I also find it ironic that someone is having fun while others feed them and clean after them. The whole process that the film follows becomes a representation of the circle of life, a metonymy for the life itself. A great day under the sun sailing on a boat through the middle of Adratic for some is a lovely memory, for others is a hard working day they wish it ends as soon as possible.
What was the most difficult part of shooting a documentary?
I think that everyone has it’s own demon; a small ghost that it’s always in ones way. For me that demon is reaching out, asking people do they wish to participate, because this “inconspicuous” observational approach looks benign and looks it is only recording reality, but it truly has it’s effect on other people lives. So there is always a moral question on how far are you willing to go for the sake of the film. From a practical stand point, the most difficult part is getting a grip on the life and compiling the stolen moments into a cohesive narrative which you can call a film in the end. Sometimes it takes a lot of filming, a lot of editing and a lot of rethinking your original idea to successfully make a film. Other times film just happens, and your only obligation it to charge the batteries, empty the memory cards, press record and participate in life.
What is your next film plan? Do you want to make documentaries, or do you have an interest in fiction too?
My next plan is to make films, and to hope some of them will be good 🙂 For now mine main interest is documentary film since reality always finds a way to surprise me, and to inspire me.
Director’s bio, short film summary, and photos from the official website of the Future Frames. More interviews are coming with the directors!