I am honoured to be a member of the Festival team
Film is an expensive toy, it requires high standards. And that creates audience: when you have good cinemas, audience comes to these places intentionally
In the interview for the Festival Newsletter, our famous actor gives the reasons why he accepted the invitation of ''Blažo and Rale'' six years ago to become the president of the Festival committee: it was because of Milena Dravić, who held that position before him, because he had known and appreciated for a long time the team leading the Festival, and because even before that he had been a guest here as an actor and a jury member.
''I know it sounds like a cliché, but believe me that it is true: I am still deeply honoured to be a member of the team that creates the Palić Festival'', says Branislav Lečić.
Which problems have you encountered while organizing the Festival this year? Is the key word “the world economic crisis”?
We have always had problems related not only to the Festival but the culture in general. Like in other poor countries, some people still have not realized that culture is a common good and everything else loses its sense without it. That first battle is an everlasting one and we are ready for it. The second battle is about the timing – there is always some reason to withhold the budget for the Festival, either at the local or state level. And the third one – there is the world economic crisis. This year we have found ourselves in a situation to hold our heads above the water literally thanks to the ability and enthusiasm of the people who organize the Festival. We are no longer capable to make ‘something’ out of ‘nothing’, because ‘something’ costs more and more. If we are to compare the budgets and programmes of the Palić Film Festival and the most important European regional festivals, I am sure that we are to be equally matched. And 10 or 15 times less money is invested in our Festival. It’s a pity, because if things were different – if we had a festival of huge proportions – Palić and Subotica and the whole country as well would have numerous benefits.
What would the Palić Film Festival be like if there were more money?
In the first place, we could talk about top quality film projections: we would have the closed cinema in the case it rained, and it would provide good quality sound and picture. Film is an expensive toy, it requires high standards. And that creates audience: when you have good cinema theaters, audience comes to these places intentionally, because they want to witness the historical steps of the technology development. We don't have the problem with the films contents, the quality of selections is excellent, but we do have the problem with the quality of film projections.
Between the two Festival editions the parliament passed the Cinema Law. As a professional, and as a former minister of culture, what is your opinion of it?
The Cinema Law provides the opportunity of additional financing and creating the budget for the film industry. It's not enough that the state allocates funds for the film, but an additional type of self-financing is needed through the regulations which would enable obtaining a certain percentage of the incomes of the National Broadcasting Agency (RRA). Because we should not forget that film workers also appear on TV, we also influence the viewer ratings. The other benefit of this law is the support to the film fund which is supposed to organize everything related to the home film industry: financing, promotion, advertising, education…
What do you like to watch here, who are your favourite European authors?
I like to think of myself as a film explorer, so festivals, like this one at Palić, come in handy for me to get to know better some foreign cinema. Watching Finnish, Israeli and Romanian films, I found out what intellectual thought marked those films at the certain moment. Those cinemas may not globally have a great commercial importance, but I'm sure they can influence significantly what we call the film art with good reason.
You have appeared on TV and in films between 70 and 80 times, and there were periods when you made five to six films a year. Roughly, one quarter of these appearances are main roles. Why haven't we seen you recently in some of them?
You're right, you haven't seen me recently. It is primarily because of my feeling that increasingly fewer films are made without compromises, and film crews are chosen on the basis of membership to a tribe or a clan and not on the basis of objective quality. I even understand why these small family firms exist, but it suits me better to be part of the conscious cinema which is capable of creating great works. And these great works are fewer and fewer. What is popular nowadays are long stories based on improvisation and enthusiasm. In my drawer I have five or six screenplays and for the same number of years I have been trying to collect the third of the budget for one of these films, which is the minimum amount needed to start making the film. We've had financial crises before as well, but it has never influenced the film industry so heavily.
So, another actor becomes a producer?
I've never had any producing ambitions; I've liked it more to devote myself to my primary profession. Nevertheless, the time has come that one must do everything: production, organization, acting, sometimes even directing. I understand why many actors decide to become producers. In order not to keep yearning for a film to happen. Yes, I am an actor, but if I have to, I will be an actor, producer and director as well.