Geke and Bas are two days at the Rotterdam Film Festival, one of the ‘conferences’ we go to every year. I say conference because the films we go to are often inspiring and indeed influential on the work we do throughout the year.
For instance, this morning we saw a Russian film (I Love You, Alexander Rastorguef and Pavel Kostomarov, 2011) that is entirely based on footage collected by giving cameras to young Russians who were asked to record their own lives. In total 50 people were asked to do so, resulting in no doubt (too) many hours of video. After a first round of editing yet more scenes were ‘commissioned’ to complete the film. It is fascinating to be part of the lives of these young people for a while, although i must say immediately too I’m glad I do not need to live their lives because these are very hard lives full of swearing out of continuos frustration over not having a grip on their surroundings. What stuck with me most however is how quickly people forget a camera is there and just live their lives. I’ve seen this many times before, also in the filming with participants we do at STBY. Yet, we always get the question “Do you not disturb situations when you film them?” The answer is that our camera (as the camera of the filmmakers of I Love You too possibly) does indeed create situations that would not have existed if the film had not been made. But still these situations and films are powerful expressions of the lives of the people in them, and that is what makes them interesting and valuable, in the cinema and in our projects.
A second inspiration we just saw is a Japanese film (Love Addiction, Uchida Nobuteru, 2010) about relationships of young people, reenacted by 4 young actors who play parts of their own lives. The film was made very cheaply (“for the price of a second hand car”), but that did not affect its power. The people in the film give it its power, and they are very convincing. Even in a completely empty Tokyo underground corridor, with only a Starbucks cup to hold on to, they create an emotional scene that expresses in a beautifully understated and quiet way the confusion that love can bring to people. The camera simply follows the actors, not always aware of where they go next, resulting in sometimes chaotic images. But that does not matter because we are at all times with the people in the film. And these people show us that life is not always as you expect or hope, so why would a camera know it all? This power of people is what we aim for in the films we make at STBY too, because it is the people that we want to be with, and whose stories we want to express. As powerful as possible.