“Suddenly, altcineAction! came along and gave our film a chance to be seen and the viewers helped us continue our work. This win takes us one step closer to our dream: to make movies.“
Christos Gkotsis, the director of Pledge, altcineAction! 2015-16 Best Short Film Award, talks to us about his award winning film, his plans for creating a new project, the importance of an online festival which promotes Balkan cinema, and especially short films and also the essential value of critique in the art.
Christos Gkotsis, director of Pledge
How do you feel about winning this award?
At the night of the award ceremony, the crew and I felt an air of optimism. Also, I had personally experienced the rejection of my film from other festivals, the horror of the creator whose work is in danger of never reaching an audience, but most of all the young filmmaker who can’t find a way to go on. Suddenly, altcineAction! came along and gave our film a chance to be seen and the viewers helped us continue our work. This win takes us one step closer to our dream: to make movies.
Tell us what you plan to do with this award?
Making films is a complex art. It doesn’t only require commitment from the people involved, but it also calls for certain conditions to exist. This award will help us materialise our next project.
Do you already have a new project in mind? Are you ready to seize this opportunity in order to create something more professional and/or international?
Like I said before, we are preparing our next short which is titled “Mirage” and we hope to commence shooting shortly. Meanwhile, I’m currently working on two feature length scripts: “Sound of wheel” and “Kidneys”.
How helpful is an Online Festival for the Balkan filmmakers?
The fact that there’s an online festival that promotes Balkan cinema, and especially shorts, is extremely important. The short film audience is quite limited and condensed in the narrow frame of respective festivals. What happens then to the films that don’t get the chance to go to a festival, or how do they reach a non-festival audience, or how can the voice of new filmmakers be heard? Through altcineAction! anyone is given the opportunity to watch remarkable works, films for which people have struggled and clashed. Many believe that cinema belongs on the silver screen. Personally, I don’t mind if most of my viewers saw the film on a tablet or their smartphones. We now live in the digital era and just the fact that our films find their audience and that very process breeds friendships and collaborations, fills me with optimism for the future. Lastly, let’s not forget that this festival makes us creators become viewers ourselves and thus we get to know the work of our peers.
What is your opinion regarding the Best Critic Awards and its prize “The 5C Project”?
I will answer with a question. Can you think of art without critique? I personally learned about cinema by reading reviews and analyses. The writings of critics and cinema theorists urged me to watch certain films and explore them. This award will give young critics the possibility to develop their writing style and sharpen their critical thought, so that in the future we may meet again in the dark room.
How do you think that “The 5C Project” initiative can be useful to you and your projects?
The 5C project is our ambassador out there. They are those who, as the film ends and the lights are on, they continue to bear it with them through their writings and their conversations. They are those who don’t just rate the film and move on to the next, but instead give space to discussion and analysis. They are not those who just assert if a film is good or bad. They are those who don’t judge the creator but rather the creation.
Besides your short, were there any other films in the competition that you particularly enjoyed and why?
I liked a lot of films. Of course one of them I adored: the film Libelula. Although I watched many of the films online during the competition, I actually missed this one. I saw it on the big screen on the last day of the festival and, trust me, it was a slap in the face! I won’t bother to explain every reason why I liked it so much. I will only say that the most important thing for cinema is to speak directly to our soul.
How did you learn about altcineAction! Online Balkan Short Film Festival?
I knew this festival from its very first year. But this year, it was our cinematographer who put forward the idea to apply with “Pledge”. Initially I didn’t pay much attention because I was disappointed with our film’s festival progress so far. But, thankfully, George is very insistent and persuasive, so I finally sent you the film. In retrospect, he was right to insist!
What were your expectations and why have you sent your film to us?
I wanted to win the award and show my film to as many people as possible.
Do you have any recommendations regarding the next editions of the festival?
Despite not being the best adviser, I would recommend a future collaboration with producers (mentors, mentoring), so that the next projects of the winners would get off the ground more easily.
What are your plans and expectations for the future?
To make films!