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Interview with Ron Holloway Guest of Belgrade’s New Author Film Festival

Ron Holloway :(Guest of honor of Belgrade’s New Author Film Festival 2007)

-On Internet it is said you are an expert for German film, you live in Berlin for very long time?
-I have been writing my dissertation of cinema on Dryer or Bergman and I was very happy when I got my first job and I was said that I could go anywhere Eastern from Berlin, not only German Cinema and everywhere Eastern from my territory (USA). And, first of all, German Cinema at time was in the revolution. I just arrived to Germany at the end of 60s, back then, that was a wonderful time of a new German Cinema. The matter a fact, Variety newspaper gave me a new job: writing about German Cinema for them. They gave me shortcuts of NGP and they used it for ten years. At the same time I had an interest for German socialists and I came to old Yugoslavia. I like every European Cinema, I like old Yugoslav so called black cinema, Zika Pavlovic, Sasa Petrovic and just to mention all famous directors like Dusan Makavejev. At the time, I had some friends who came from the Prague Film School: they have become very close friend of mine and then I was very surprise to see that there was a cinema that wasn’t necessary an “underground” cinema. There’s a cinema against social realism and Russian dictators. At that time we were all very exciting about it. Another kind of cinema is the one we see in Hollywood. Then there is a suddenly explosion of Hollywood films too. S all I can say in general that my life has been wonderful. In moments of all creativity. It turned out that in lot of these countries after the political changes, after Gorbachov, people went through revolution. You suddenly get awaken by the fact that there’s a new Romanian cinema; it’s a different kind of cinema, very different. We have filmmakers in the Czech Republic. Who were suddenly able to fill the box office? And I like very much some Czech film directors. I was really surprise how quickly young Romanian film directors started to pick up and they had to fight against their state at the time. The government wasn’t happy about what they did. Because money was supposed to go the old guys not young directors. What I find now is that Belgrade directors are different. So you have new generations of film directors. They have no money but they are making medium budget films. I was in Khuzestan and they have new film as well. The government wants them out from business as soon as they started to follow up new ideas. Now they are allowed a freedom of expression because they get money outside of the government hands, from private financers.

-How do you think that American audience is excepting foreign or German film? You have for instance New York audience?
-The New York audience is not an American audience. And San Francisco audience is not New York audience. We have different kind of poetry of cinema. Different theory how to make the film. What is interesting about way it is taken place in America is the rise of the documentary. Short films and documentary. Directors are coming out of film school. There use to be a kind off media and in school they learning how to walk around and keep steady hands not shake, giving audience direction how to follow the story. You have also difficult kind and high definition camera, and you know how to make a first film about yourself. Some filmmakers are using ideas and follow the idea of dogma like the way the Scandinavians does, or Aki Karyzmaki. They create their own world, own vision, own style. Filmmakers I admire most are the one who are strong enough to form their own style. And whether the films are successful enough or not, for me, it doesn’t matter. I have the third vision to understand what is going on the screen. There are 6 new young filmmakers that I like on the festival. The subjects are handling very objective, very deep, extremely sensitive to old or young audience. And I like Argentinean film. Ten years ago people think that Argentina is having an economic catastrophe and that they can do nothing because of that. But sometimes economic catastrophes can help great deal, because you are not spoiled by producers, who are telling you what to do you are not trying to fit into a commercial. There is a kind of audience in cinemas and different one on the festivals. And art house film is having audience on Internet. People are looking films on Internet. If you understand some flat images on a big monitor, slowly you become quite cinematic because there’s a possibility of shadows in the back. These depths of colors changed now. You can shoot a lot of films, you can shoot digital films in winter or night and they look like cinema. You have films shot on the daylights and they are not impressive to eyes. Not friendly to look at. There’s a lot of experimentation going on in cinema and every country has its own experience. It’s extremely different today where everything is different. You need to understand how to use 35 millimeter and go somewhere else like USA and maybe to get paid lots of money. There are possibilities and that is there.

When you talk about audience in New York: you can go to Modern Art Museum; you can go to New York Film Society, because they show film festivals every day. The same is now in Berlin, you can have a retrospective cinema, a tribute cinema, a new cinema, short cinema; Berlin Short Film Festival is 35 years old. This festival has a huge audience. And suddenly you have a new kind of audience. I can’t sit on those films like I use to, but as an old guy I have sort of feeling. Because young people are making films for their audience. What is interesting at the moments, from sexual and erotic things in film young people are moving deeply into a psychological? Psycho - thriller and this type of film appeals to audience. And it feels in a way, just positive. And directors do not have to exploit sex and drugs.

-Tell us something about your magazine Kino Magazine in Germany?
The reason for the magazine was anger. I was writing for newspaper like Variety, for 16 years and I was required to produce good reviews. Sometimes 250 or 300 reviews in one year. I was writing every day. Always about something I have seen on the screen. Then I have realized that German government, pushing to their own kind of audience, and you have German television that is pushing their own type of films. They have commissions coming for that, and they say you have to do this director; this actor…My ideas with this magazine was to put something more readable on English. Since I’m bilingual and I studied German on University, it is easer for me to understand colloquial speeches. And put something in the colloquial language. To explain why this film is easy flowing, I can put that into words. Some people began to tell me about it. But first of all government paid me tuitions. And than they didn’t wanted to pay me no more, because that was experiment for them too? A then you can start using advertising money, this is how we have been paying magazine for 20 years. I had freedom to put in magazine something that I believed it was supportive. Then we had records of film festivals internationally not only German film. Of course we always look for one German film on the festival. It doesn’t matter; it was very little to write about festival. And somehow we found out that people are fishing that out as well. Afterwards, we went to Internet. First of all, I write stories and films for my own audience. And I was allowed to put it in Canadian magazine. German magazines, they always ask a little bit of fitting to the customers. At the same time I was doing data bases. If someone would ask about Belgrade film directors I would have little data base about Belgrade film directors. I have same about Russian directors. Etc…I like very much Baltic Cinema, they do not have money but they know what they are doing. They also have sort of animation films. Western Europeans are very creative, when I go to those countries I have many friends who I can sit and talk with. We can discuss where the inspiration is coming from. Magazine is such that is read everywhere. This magazine circulated on every major film festival. Somehow in the world it is known about it. It’s a diary and invitation to the film festivals. There’s a saying for the festival. Festivals must be fun, too bad you have to see so many boring films. For me no festival is fun thank God there are boring movies. I can see something.

-Books?
I have an offer which bothers me a little, because I haven’t started with writing yet. Someone told me last year that I should be writing about festivals. So I toyed with idea and then I heard that Cannes Festival director also wanted me to write about festival. So 60 years of anniversary of Cannes is a lot to write about. Old festival catalogue became better. I found old photographs. They’re correcting old mistakes of old catalogues. In my next book I would really like to write anecdotes and stories and little bit backgrounds about happenings on Cannes Festival. I can do the same about let say Pula Film Festival. I was there in 1969. I could do the same about Berlin Film Festival. But at his moment newspapers are paying me to write good stories. If you make a humorous a story of how film director or a jury festival tried to manipulate politically, then it is readable. It is also interesting in anecdotes. But there is a time when we do not believe background stories. It’s like an American politics. American politics is 90% lie. And my book will be published by American Press. And I know what they want, so I have a littlie difficulty because some people want book with photos and I don’t want that. On the other hand lot of people don’t want little paper back thing, it’s an easer thing to do.

You might think my name is interesting in USA, but in America it is not that interesting. Or some people who read Variety can find reviews that I wrote a years and years ago. Basically some people might say why even bother writing books today. That is bothering me a little bit; I have Kino Magazine on the web and Moving Pictures on the web.
Internet is having mistakes. For example there was a short film about Butterfly. This was the animation. The caterpillar falls into a ball and gets hit by two girls over and over, back and forward. But when the ball falls and opens, butterfly get to fly away. It lasts 3 or 5 minutes. The film was sent to a Berlin film festival about 8 years ago, but the Berlin Film Festival is very harsh about the rules, because the film was made a year before and it was too old. The producer than say to change date and title, and sent it to the Cannes Film Festival. On Cannes Film Festival this short won the first prize. Story like that tells you everything. Like the film festivals. Their problem are set up rules and having no faith.

-Tell us something about Belgrade Manifest Conference, about the position of an author films in the film industry?
The Manifesto is very interesting. One thing is very bad that everyone is crazy about media. People who are involved in media are in the promotion and in the commission. Like 90% of people on festivals don’t know anything about films. They only know how to fit in the television frame. Cinematography is 0 for 80% of these people. All other things on festival, including pictures and films are there to make them money. I admire filmmakers who can turn people around and give them what they want and keep artistic side of it all. If they want location in Germany you can find the way to impose cheaper location in Eastern Europe. But story about Romanian girl can not be shot in Berlin. Lot of them is just stupid. Sometimes enrolment of post production people, editors etc can rise the budget double or triple. If you do production in some countries the cost is three times more then in some other country. Year by year it gets worse and worse. They are also extremely money oriented and they make film, doing everything for you. Depends of the contract. There is a system that works like: I can buy things from looser and supply winners.

-You are winner of several awards, tell us something about Awards?
That becomes more and more embarrassing. My magazine is meant to get to film festivals. And first festival that gave me Award was Cannes Film Festival, because I’m there every year. I am only journalist that director of the Cannes Film Festival allowed to have longer interviews. My interviews last an hour sometimes even longer. Then there was Award for a Hundred Years of Cinema in 1995. And I have got the same kind of award from Cannes Film Festival, along with 40 other journalists. We, my wife and I were given a Gold Flag and Millennium Award. Then Germans gave me German Award of Merit for all the work I done for German film in my magazine. Then, Berlin Camera Award was given to me and my wife, ‘because I work on Berlin Film Festival so long. And my wife worked for Berlin Film Festival, in the children film selection for 19 years. And I did a lot of things for the festival. Berlin Film Festival gave us a double award. That award make us very proud because sometimes, when you are over 70, people forget you: or you bust with your ego about the cinema. When they gave us Award, there was a big turn out, because lot of friend and colloquies came to the festival, as well. I don’t think I’ll get any more awards. It’s enough.



By Radmila Djurica

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Chatelin Bruno
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