Institute of Documentary Film will traditionally organize the second out of three sessions of Ex Oriente Film workshop within Jihlava IDFF. Its programme will again offer a series of creative masterclasses and lectures on various aspects of documentary filmmaking, (co-) production and distribution open to wide public. Among its tutors, there will be also the award-winning Georgian director and producer Salomé Jashi, who will speak about her experience with directing and producing her latest film, The Dazzling Light of Sunset, which was awarded the Best First (debut) Award at Visions du Reel IFF. You can find the interview with her and details about the masterclass below.
What was the main reason for you to decide to make your new film The Dazzling Light of Sunset about Dariko from the local Georgian television channel? Did you know her before the shooting?
My original idea came from the interest towards small media organizations. I wondered what the news could be for them while the big media covered big issues of the world. Through research I selected a two-person TV station in a small town of Tsalenjikha in Georgia. I envisaged its journalist Dariko as a thread in the film in putting the major events of the town together. So first came the idea and only afterwards I found the characters.
Before you studied documentary filmmaking you had studied journalism. Was this experience useful for you in this film?
I always ask myself whether my experience as a journalist and reporter was useful or not in my life and career. For me it was a very different profession, even opposite to filmmaking. With this film I in a way went back to reflect upon my former profession. In a small town journalism has a more primitive character in comparison to central media, but still, it has similar patterns of selecting news, being biased, staying on the surface of events… So, yes, maybe my previous experience in journalism was useful for this particular film in the sense that I knew what to expect.
Concerning form, you use a lot observation style and try to interfere as little as possible. Do you think you can get closer to „real“ reality with this approach or is every documentary film subjective? Do you agree that it is not possible to be objective in documentary filmmaking? Should the objectivity be important in the documentary field at all?
I don’t think anything can even be objective and I don’t think it should be. The reality is always a point of view. How can I say that with the film I depict reality when I select scenes to be filmed and I select what to film in them, then I select how to film them and then again, how to put them together and create a context. And I am not sure if the term ‘observational documentary’ is also correct. Yes, first I observe but then I select my reality, my point of view.
You will come to Jihlava as a tutor of an international training programme for documentary professionals Ex Oriente Film. Which trends have you been spotting in the recent years in the field of documentary filmmaking?
I should mention that Ex Oriente Film Workshop was the first workshop I took when I was working on my earlier film Bakhmaro (2011) and it opened my eyes and doors to international film production. Since then probably transmedia and hybrid documentary projects became more popular. The definition of documentary became vaguer, which means more possibilities.
Do you think the future of documentary filmmaking lies in transmedia projects?
Even though transmedia projects can be great for storytelling, I don’t think it will replace conventional documentary filmmaking. It’s a totally different realm. It was once considered that transmedia was conquering the industry but I think it will slowly lose the importance it has right now from the funders.
What is your opinion concerning the hybrid documentaries using staged or dramatic sequences?
If the film is good, I don’t really care if it’s documentary, hybrid, or fiction.
Don't you think that many documentary filmmakers, who are focusing on human rights issues, often "sacrifice" the artistic form of the film to the content?
Some years ago, when I visited IDFA for the first time, I observed that most of the films had very strong stories and characters but artistically I found them weak. But these films conveyed information, rose awareness, made me think and worry. I was asking myself whether it made sense to focus on style and form in documentaries, in the way I did, when information was so much more important in the world. This question has two sides and it’s a decision we make as filmmakers– is the issue more important or is it the artistic and aesthetic way we deal with our surroundings and create content. Even though I struggle in coming up with the answer, in fact I am still for the latter.
Do you already have plans for your next film?
Right now I am working on a completely different project that is not related to filmmaking.
Should you have an unlimited financial budget, what you would like to make a documentary about?
I might sound pathetic now, but that documentary would be a huge responsibility. We spend thousands of Euros on a 60-90 minute production while with those thousands one could build schools, give away scholarships, give shelter to refugees, etc. So many useful things can be done with this money. So making a film is a big responsibility. Are we making something better than that? Is it worth it? Maybe these are altruistic questions. But I would not want to have an unlimited financial budget for a film.
MASTER CLASS: SALOME JASHI
Monday, October 24, 2016 17.30 – 19.00 | Hotel Gustav Mahler, Křížová 4, Jihlava, Czech Republic
During her masterclass Salomé Jashi will talk about her experience of producing and directing her latest documentary The Dazzling Light of Sunset. A special emphasis will be given to writing the treatment, as well as to how the research was conducted and how it contributed to the production of the final film. Salomé will look at the big question of ‘what is the story’ and the double play of presenting it to the others and defining it for yourself. The talk will also cover the challenge of being demotivated and then re-motivated again through all the phases of production as well as how a synthesis of openness and stubbornness contribute to making a successful film.
Open for: Industry + Press accreditations