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It is in the Head

Cineama is the oldest national competition/festival of amateur films in Slovakia. In 2017 Mgr Munk made this speech at a seminar during the festival. He and his wife translated it for us. Much of what he says also applies to our film making and to BIAFF.
There are some differences from BIAFF. Cineama is run by a paid staff. It also has a series of regional heats before the national festival. More young people attend. But the passion for film making and the role the Festival plays are the same.
Your webmaster was able to attend the 2017 Cineama festival.
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I was recently asked by a television editor whether amateur film production makes any sense and what the Cineama competition is all about.

In reply I spoke about creativity and the need to express oneself. I wanted to arrive at only one possible conclusion: Can you think of any professional film maker (international or national), who was not at first an amateur film enthusiast? Impossible. Such a person does not exist! All professionals have devoted their soul, heart, vision, feelings, ears, hands, legs, an unknowable amount of time, and especially their head to film.

We all carry the Lumiere genes.

The question forced me to realise what was lingering somewhere in the back of my head. That is: we film makers all have the same piece of 'DNA' in us. We all carry the Lumiere genes. We all belong to the same group: film enthusiasts, regardless of age, gender or beliefs.

At Cineama, despite this important similarity, we see different ideas, different technical approaches, unexpected viewpoints, and in particular, themes that map the whole world around us. And by bringing us these films, Cineama chronicles what is happening in Slovakia. This makes Cineama unique.

Thanks to everyone who helps make the festival happen, because it is more than "moving images". It is enthusiasts behind the camera, in front of the lenses, in the cutting room, working with computers, and also people in the background who do the leg work, who do the organising.

All because they love film and film makers

The people, whose names do not appear on film credits, are the soul and head of Cineama, the ones who organise tours of amateur film in Slovakia. They often go beyond the call of duty, working long hours and at the expense of their personal holidays. Without them Cineama would not have survived for 25 years. And all because they love film and film makers. They know that it is not possible to organise a festival “on autopilot”. It is necessary to think about everything, so it is always in the head. I take my hat off my film making head to all enthusiastic organisers.

Of course, there is another part of Cineama without whom the Festival would not be possible. The film makers. Both are essential for its future existence.

The hardest challenge for every creator

Without the support of Cineama the film maker would remain anonymous. Creation is the desire to say something, and to say it to someone. It is not enough to paint a painting, it is not enough to compose a song or write a poem or screenplay if it remains in the head of the creator and does not reach other heads! And this is the task Cineama performs for non-commercial film makers. It presents their work to those others.

The audience becomes part of Cineama. Their task is to open their eyes and follow the creator´s work. The full synergy between creator, organiser and audience is accomplished only when the film is in the head of the recipient.

However, there are situations – regardless whether we are talking about professionals or enthusiasts - when it is in the head but that is where it remains. Probably the hardest challenge for every creator is trying to convey what is in their imagination into the resulting film.

Cineama also shows us developing technology, feats that were almost impossible to achieve in the past. For example, aerial shots. Today we have lots of them produced through the use of drones. At one time, filming evening shots in dark woods or caves was expensive. Nowadays, it is possible to create in a film what is in the head, with technical perfection through LED technology. There are many more technical advances but one thing does not change, and cannot be helped by technology, that is the need to present and craft a story. This must be designed in the head before it can be realised in a film.

Cineama provides opportunities for creators of all ages to show their work. Younger children and their films are increasingly involved – and that is great! Every age group and every film maker has their own individual handwriting. Sometimes it is more readable, other times less precise. This is very important as it is the basis of creating an artistic style.

New approaches will be part of film language

Cineama provides an opportunity for confrontation with the classic view of film language, preferred by an older generation. Although some Cineama films do not follow the usual forms (and that sometimes causes the work to suffer), it is becoming increasingly common for various influences from the general media to inspire us. This happens across all genres. Such new approaches will become part of film language and part of Cineama itself because Cineama supports the development of film technique, both practical and artistic.

I recently travelled with a colleague to a regional Cineama festival. We were sitting in the train with our noses almost pressed against the window as spring greenery flew past and sunlight appeared over the trees. Suddenly the train sounds changed. It crossed a bridge over the river and we gazed in astonishment at the beautiful scenery of the river edged by spreading trees. My colleague said: “I wish I had a camera. That would be a shot!” I nodded approvingly. The train passed the river and I thought that I would remember the image for very long time, even forever. Then I realised that it might not actually last that long. I decided that sometime in the future I would swallow an SD card and get it lodged in my head. Then I would be able to shoot whenever and whatever I like …. even the awesome unrepeatable view from the train on my way to one of the annual Cineama competitions.

Ladislav Munk
film director and screenwriter
Bratislava, Slovakia
Translation: Eva Munková
Bratislava, Slovakia

Contribution to the 1st International Conference "The Way of Cineama",
11. 06. 2017 Nitra, Slovakia