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Costas Gavras: Film making is passion, ideas and hard work

11 October 2010 / 10:10:08  GRReporter
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It is a rainy Athenian night but the café on the top floor of the Public bookshop is full of film makers who came to sink into the words of the director Costas Gavras, who says that passion and ideas are the most important things in film making. Minutes before the director came in, Sakis Rouvas, who was with his wife Katia Ziguli, attracted the attention. The film critic Dimitris Danikas hosted the discussion with Costas Gavras and spoke at length with the director about his films. The discussion with Danikas and the audience continued more than two hours, but I suggest you to have a look at some of its most interesting moments.

The meeting with Costas Gavras was held in the frameworks of the second Ρublic Digital Festival, which was attended by hundreds of young and ambitious filmmakers. The short digital videos contest applicants have made whole productions. They have written scenarios, they have done sets and costumes; they have composed music and made castings to shoot videos with mobile phones, digital cameras or camcorders. After several days some of them will win the first places that will bring them scholarships to study directing. Ρublic Digital Festival is organized under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and the Greek Film Centre with art director Dimitris Danikas and chairman of the jury Sakis Rouvas.

“When I went to Paris, we sold pencils in the evenings to earn pocket money to learn. The University was well settled – there was housing for the students. I had worked in Greece for a year before I left to have a starting amount for studying.”

“I started as a fourth assistant director, then I became third, second, first, and so I was fortunate to work with great directors. The assistant directors played very important role then – they did the casting of actors and offered the actors to the filmmakers.”

“What is directing? “80% work and 20% talent,” Godard used to say. A whole new world, a life, are created from where nothing. Directing starts from the screenplay, and if the screenplay is not good then the dialogues are not good – the directing and the actors can not be good... It is best if the director is able to write the screenplay.”

“In my opinion all films are political. They reflect the philosophy and policy of the filmmaker. The worst of the films that have nothing to do with reality also have an impact on young people. These films that show violence as if it is a game - they have political significance too. I do not think spectacles that are being watched by so many people are apolitical. And I mean ‘political’ in terms of daily behaviour – how we link with the 'other', our relationship with the stronger and the weaker ones. It is all like a pyramid and we're at one of the levels of the pyramid. But the question is how we behave with those who are below us and how those who are above us behave with us. This is politics. It is a different matter for whom you vote every five years”  

“The state is like a family, there are laws, and there are tradition and history which we live with. If we are not able to understand these things it is like we are living in a hotel and saying that we will move elsewhere tomorrow.”

“When a comedian is willing to play a dramatic role, he or she is much better than anyone else.”

"There is no tragedy - neither Shakespeare, nor Sophocles, without a thrill, that does not grip us and make us want to see what will happen next."

"We go to the cinema to watch the spectacle. We do not go to the cinema to hear a political speech, nor to learn things as at the university. I make spectacular films and there is the subject that I refer to, it is inside the spectacle. The idea is to use the thriller to develop the concept. A man of the middle class loses his job and loosing his job he looses everything. He looses the car; the children can not go to school any longer. He looses his life." (About his film "The Ax".)

"When I was studying directing, to become a director you had to go through an entire system - first to become an assistant, to work a few years to learn. It is very easy today – you buy a small camera, a computer, make films with your friends, then festivals are held with these films, you can make DVD and distribute it."

"I came today to talk about digital cinema. It is a real revolution. Incredible is the change that digital technology has led to. Not just because of the easier shooting, but it changes the aesthetics of the works, it changes the way we want to make films, the way we show them. The disadvantage is that we do not know how we to keep the digitally shot material. The film we have recorded on DVD is kept for 10-12 years, then it disappears, deletes. We should rewrite them every ten years."

"For years, we directors have been shooting on reels to keep the film. Then the cutting and the processing are made digitally. But what is important is that the digital cinema enables people who do not avail the budget to shoot on reel to shoot though. For example, to make films for school. I'd shot using digital technology for economic reasons and because of photography - especially for night shots as the sensitivity of digital technology is much better than that of the reel."

Tags: NewsCostas GavrasCinemaDigital cinemaNine muses
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