TSM: What is your impression of the films that you have seen?

Paul Pauwels
Paul Pauwels

PP: Most of them are mainly trying to reach domestic audiences by dealing with local situations and trying to come to terms with the serious problems confronted by filmmakers in recent years; therefore they do not travel easily. Others are more open and have the potential to reach a wider audience. I saw a lot of craftsmanship, and I particularly loved the sense of humour and poetry in some of the films. It was surprising to see how a certain style seemed to be fitting for a certain region. In comparison to the films I watch at home, I would say they are less story driven, but in many cases the filmmakers are very talented at capturing the atmosphere in a very cinematographic way.

TSM:  In terms of production and creativity, what are the weaknesses and what are the strengths in this region for filmmakers who want to go international?

PP: The people from S.E.E are confronted with a financial problem. The budgets for producing a documentary over here are clearly lower than in the rest of Europe. This weakens the negotiating position of S.E.E. filmmakers. I have seen many very creative films made by obviously talented people, but they must realise that the competition is fierce and there are only a limited number of available slots for showing their films on European television. I would urge them to look for general human-interest stories that can attract a broad audience, but to try to preserve their very imaginative and unique storytelling techniques. They should by all means avoid copying films from Central or Western Europe, but keep their own style.

I think it will be necessary for filmmakers to become well organised and make sure they have an excellent infrastructure, in terms of both production and funding. If they want to become players in the international market they will have to adapt to the rules, which calls for strong, reliable production companies with the potential of becoming healthy partners for broadcasters and co-producers.

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