JIŘÍ BRDEČKA (1917 – 1982)
Jiří Brdečka had a significant influence on (not just) Czech cinema. He wrote screenplays to cult classics such as Lemonade Joe or Horse Opera, Adela Has Not Had Her Supper Yet, The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians and The Emperorʼs Baker - The Bakerʼs Emperor, and he also wrote commentary to Zeman’s films The Fabulous World of Jules Verne and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. However, he influenced Czech cinema not just as a screenwriter, but also a creator of internationally acclaimed animated films. At Febiofest IFCF, we will examine the section of Brdečka’s work which resonated abroad rather than at home in a selection of his most successful animated shorts. “Animated film always remained close to Jiří Brdečka’s heart, even despite his screenwriting work. Human emotions, especially the powerful ones, can be expressed in an animated film just as well as in a live-action film. The point is to find the right stylization,” says the daughter of Jiří Brdečka, Tereza Brdečková, in remembrance of her father in the film Universum Brdečka. She was the one to approach documentary filmmaker Miroslav Janek with the task to examine her father’s personality in a documentary. The film premiered last year, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Leos Carax (1960)
He studied film at University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle, he was a contributor in the famous magazine Cahiers du cinema and he made his mark in 1984 with his debut, Boy Meets Girl, after having previously shot only two short films. It was immediately clear that he is not a regular skilled filmmaker, but a truly extraordinary personality in the field of cinema. The following film Bad Blood (1986) only confirmed the characteristic attributes of his work, such as the poetization of comedy or the rejection of perspective realism. Having received education in film history, Carax draws inspiration from it, and yet his films are not plagiarized; as a creator, he simply develops his preferred approaches in an original and thoughtful way. That makes his film The Lovers on the Bridge (1991) an ode to the art of filmmaking, without a doubt. The mostly misunderstood Pola X (1999) was followed by a thirteen-year break, after which he released his most recent feature film Holy Motors (2012), a detailed account of the current state of the world. An integral element of Carax’s work are his short films, which, in some cases, effortlessly achieve a visual standard equal to his feature-length films. Carax’s visual register is remarkably rich; here we need to mention the influence of photography and fine arts, which eventually lead towards images diverted from all senses – the clean images for example deal with the idea of movement in film.
A distinctive authorial personality and a master of intimate psychological dramas with a slight subtext of irony. The French director Arnaud Deplechin debuted with a medium-length film The Life of the Dead in Cannes in 1990. He collaborated with the same actors that would keep appearing in his films until the present day, including his favorite, Mathieu Amalric. Two years later, Desplechin reappeared in Cannes with his feature-length debut The Sentinel. In 1996, he earned more success with a film about university intellectuals trying to find their place in the world – My Sex Life... or How I Got into an Argument. It was followed by the films Ester Kahn (2000), Playing “In the Company of Men” (2003) or Kings and Queen (2004). One of his most well-known films is A Christmas Tale (2008), a tragicomedy with an inventive narration starring Catherine Deneuve. In 2014, he filmed a psychological picture titled Jimmy P., an examination of PTSD in war veterans, and two years later, he released My Golden Days (2015), an intimate drama with a well-structured narration divided into three parts. A premiere of Desplechin’s latest film Ismael’s Ghost (2017) opened the 70th Cannes Film Festival. It was created in two versions – a shorter one, which is more sentimental in the eyes of the director, and a longer one, which he considers more intellectual. His work is distinguished by a distinctive poetic style and it has gained high praise from the critics; five of his films appeared in the Palme d’Or competition in Cannes. He once said in an interview: “It’s forbidden to think that we will make a masterpiece. We’ll try to make a film that feels alive.”
Szabolcs Hajdu (1972)
The director Scabolcs Hajdu is one of the most distinctive contemporary Hungarian filmmakers. He studied film direction at the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest. After graduating, he made a few short films and followed them up with his debut feature Sticky Business in 2001. Three years later, he released the film Tamara, but the true breakthrough in his career came with White Palms (2006) which premiered in Cannes in the Quinzaine de Réalisaterus section. In 2009, his film Bibliothéque Pascal premiered at Berlinale and was labeled the best Hungarian film of the year. Another of his films, Mirage (2014) first premiered at Toronto IFF, telling a tale of an African football player travelling through the Hungarian puszta. It was co-produced in Hungary and Slovakia, and the shooting itself became the subject of a noteworthy documentary titled Kanzoli (2017). Hajdu’s films are low-budget and he works with minimal crew. He refused to have his latest feature film, It’s Not the Time of My Life, financed out of state aid, as he claims that the system of Hungarian public financing is set up very poorly, forcing filmmakers to wait too long to receive financial support. Thus, he decided to shoot the film in his own apartment, casting his own relatives and friends in the leading roles.
Gustave Kervern (1962) a Benoît Delépine (1958)
A directorial duo is a remarkable phenomenon. There aren’t many of them in the history of film, and they are usually siblings. That makes Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine quite an exception. If you looked at their work, you would probably assume that they are comrades in the best sense of the word. They introduced themselves to the public with their debut Aaltra (2004), claiming allegiance to the heroes on the fringe of the society; heroes, whose existence is based upon the natural, existential resistance against the consumerist majority – not in the political sense but directly in the principle of their existence. The Association of Slovak Film Clubs released the films Louise-Michel (2008) and Mammuth (2010). Their film Near Death Experience (starring the writer Michel Houellebecq in the leading role) was screened at our festival. Their latest film Saint-Amour (2016) doesn’t portray its characters as such losers, but the film is still filled with the dark humor, situational comedy and other style-forming elements characteristic of their directorial work.
Kornél Mundruczó (1975)
He is among the most distinctive personalities of contemporary Hungarian film and theatre. Ever since the beginning of his noteworthy career, he would always grab the attention of the whole world of cinema. His debut film Pleasant Days (2002) won in its category at Locarno IFF and since then, his films have been premiering at Cannes Film Festival. Mundruczó has a great sense of the spirituality of his characters fumbling their way through a world full of hostility. These themes were central to his next films, Delta (2008) and Frankenstein Project (2010). The film White God (2014) is thus a remarkable and radical shift in the director’s poetics, as he started to mix his moral messages with traditional genre approaches. That is also characteristic of his latest film Jupiter’s Moon (2017), where he revisits the refugee crisis and presents a unique film form, which is unmatched in the world of authorial and art cinema.