Catherine Breillat, Małgorzata Zajączkowska and Barry Purves explain their relationship with cinema on the stage of the Short
On the third day of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, the awaited Special Jury Program took place; a chance to get acquainted with the three international jury members of this edition: Catherine Breillat, Małgorzata Zajączkowska, and Barry Purves. Every jury member chose one or more short movies for screening, then commented and answered to questions from the public.
The first to get on stage was Catherine Breillat, a multi-talented French writer, director and artist. During the evening, some passages from her most famous movies were presented, including Fat Girl and Romance X; works in which the themes of sexuality and gender conflicts stand out, themes that mark her filmography, confronted from a very personal and brave point of view. The artist chose to linger over these themes, talking about the presence of a sensual body in all of her works. The director declared that the viewer should “do his job, if they don’t see anything they have to imagine everything,” and, considering her movie Dirty Like an Angel, she pointed out that the public believes that they saw the protagonist naked, when – in fact – the actor never appeared naked on screen. Breillat expressed her idea about what a director is: a magician that makes the public believe to have seen something that never actually appeared. Catherine Breillat, however, does not want to provoke with merely the intention of shocking the public, but she wants to arouse emotions. One of the core memories which truly formed her as a director is an episode, from her course in a French film school, when a professor discouraged her to give up the career of a director as a woman, because – in his personal opinion – the only result would have been that she would have had to face unemployment. Breillat ultimately declared that she felt more comfortable in the director’s shoes than in the writer’s ones: she sees herself as a painter and a sculptress, capable of molding an actor as clay. The aspect which gives her the most satisfaction about being a director is the possibility to steal some time of someone else’s life, even if it’s only three minutes.
It was then the time for Małgorzaya Zajaçzowska, polish actress and writer, who, together with the director Marcin Bortkiewicz, has presented the short “Portret z pamieci” (Drawn from Memory, 2012), presented at the Festival of Cannes. The film is narrated by Marek’s point of view, a young director dealing with his grandmother’s dementia. The grandmother is convienced to be a famous actress and the nephew decides to support her, setting up some sequences that have made the history of cinema. Interviewed by Flavio Gregori, director of the cultural activities and relations of the Ca’ Foscari University, Zajaçzowska has declared his will to take part on the project as soon as he talked to the director, whom he immoderately built a strong sense of empathy. Having worked also in the United States, Małgorzaya answers to an interview that the major difference between Polish and American cinema world is set in the possibility and will to invest in art films: in the US there’s a tendency to invest and produce commercial films with more ease than to produce artistic films. In the end, the actress has revealed to be engaged in different projects, such as the Midsummer night’s dream in Warsaw.
The last host to take the stage was Barry Purves, one of the most important English animator who presented the short Plume and an episode from the animated series Twirlywpos. Plume (2011) is an abstracted work and holds no dialogues, a work in which Purves has condensed doubts, distress and personal griefs. Interviewed by Davide Giurlando, expert in animation cinema, the director has indeed stated to create the short with a cathartic end, like an elaboration of a mother’s loss. Besides showing a dark and somber atmosphere, Plume has a will to find delight even when terrifying episodes happen during one’s life. In the case of this short, the delight is illustrated with swimming, which somewhat recalls flying but in another space. Regarding Twirlywoos, Purves declared to have chosen an episode from the animated series for children to show with the short analyzed before, precisely because its light-hearted and care-free denotations create contrast between comedy and tragedy, that – in his opinion – is a synonym of life itself. He closed his speech by citing Oscar Wilde to express this passion for masks: “A man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Purves considers masks as something that not only allows people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, but also works as an alleviation of the weight of our self.