Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My week at the Sarajevo Talent Campus

It's been more than a week since I'm back from the Sarajevo Talent Campus. Being part of such a great international film festival like the Sarajevo Film Festival was definitely a wonderful experience both at the personal and professional levels. More than 60 participants were selected as "Talents" in the following fields: directing, producing, screenwriting and acting. I was one of the selected screenwriters. I'm still not very comfortable being called a "talent", but I got used to accept the term within the frame of the programme.

The one week programme was extremely busy and productive, including lectures, workshops, meetings, screenings followed by Q&As, with experts in different fields of the film industry. Memorable moments include lectures of Semih Kaplanoglu, Samuel Maoz and Gaspar Noé, that I reported back on this blog. One most memorable moment was the one hour conversation with Morgan Freeman, who came to see the Talent Campus participants. He spoke about his early career, shared some anecdotes from his years on Broadway, talked about his collaborations with Clint Eastwood, pretty general stuff you would say, but it is quite something to hear it from the man in real, sitting in front of you.

We had the opportunity to meet with young german producers to share ideas and look for potential projects to apply for the Robert Bosch Stiftung Co-production Prize. Frank Albers, director of the Robert Bosh Stiftung (partner of the Talent Campus), was present at most of the Talent Campus events and really encouraged participants to look closely at this opportunity. Also present during the whole programme were organisers of the Berlinale Talent Campus, also partner of the Sarajevo Talent Campus. Both organisations hosted special sessions about their own programmes and the opportunities they offer to young film makers at the national and international level.

Within the general programme, each area of work had its own workshop sessions. Screenwriters had the chance to work with Licia Eminenti, script analyst and director. We had a two day session during which we analysed two movies: Flanders by Bruno Dumont and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu. The format wasn't really that of a workshop, as intended, but the focus of our analysis was "From the particular to the universal" and to see how these writers/directors managed or tried to tell a universal story from a very particular situation. Another very fruitful session for screenwriters was a one to one feedback session with an expert. Mine was with Miroslav Mandic, screenwriter and director. It was incredibly refreshing to have someone sit in front of you and tell you straight what was good, less good, to be developed or simply to trash within your script. The script I gave for analysis is the one I have written about the 1999 earthquake that took place in the Marmara region in Turkey. A difficult one I must admit as it poses many production problems. But after this session, I can now re-work on the script and develop the relationship between the characters rather than the chaos that surrounds them.

Among the many other interesting sessions you can read about on the online programme, was a session with Bosnian animator and director Ivan Ramadan. In a session entitled "Animation in a nutshell" Ivan Ramadan talked about his work and how he came to start animation short films - you can also see him explain it himself in this video interview. Ramadan has worked on two short movies, one of which, Tolerantia, was awarded the best short film award at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2008, and Wondermilk, presented at this year's Children Programme of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

This week has given me the opportunity to develop some ideas by talking to fellow "talents", get inspired by major artists and experts from the industry and receive some very valuable feedback about my work as a screenwriter and the possibilities that are out there to further develop myself.

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