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netribution > features > shooting from the chip > aleksander gubas - Filmska Pravda

How Damn, Blasted, Bloody, Freaking (and a thousand more non-offensive exclamatives I can't think of right now) Fascinating! Despite having conducted an interview over a few thousand miles without once opening my mouth (apart from the bourbon and the smoking, naturally) and editing it to the point where he reads more like an Englishman than a Slav, I've finally had the pleasure of a complete and silent read of it. Fascinating. Aleksander Gubas runs the film newsletter, Filmska Pravda which provides news, free ads and calls for festival entries from all over the world and, although most are European, it exposes whole new species' of film industry every week. As he lives in Serbia, I was quite keen to explore the differences between their film scene and ours and how theirs has been affected by the war and an unstable political climate etc. Of course, Aleksandar is also a working filmmaker and an XFiles fan so, when it came to plugging his magazine I plainly failed but I promise you that this is an interesting read from start to finish. First, I had never once heard of Geodesy before today and second, that is one sexy cow that has since flatly snubbed my humble attentions and demolished my lascivious intentions. So thanks Aleksander, thanks for nothing!

| by tom fogg|
| photos from nic |
| in london |

How old are you?
I'm 35.

Where are you from?
I was born in Pula in Croatia but I've lived in Belgrade, Serbia since 1988.

Where and in what were you educated?
I studied geodesy in Zagreb, Croatia from 1984 to 1986 then psychology from 1988 to 1994 and film from 1996 to 1998 in Belgrade at a film school that used to be "Dunav Film" (during the '70's and '80's it was a leading Yugoslavian production company that specialised in documentary and animation), on a two year of intensive directing course.

What's geodesy?
According to the Webster's New World Dictionary & Thesaurus, geodesy is "branch of applied mathematics concerned with measuring or determining the shape of the earth or a large part of its surface, or with locating exact points on its surface"! I decided to study geodesy because I'd studied mathematics at high school, I actually have a scientific background, like Dana Scully from the "X-Files"!

[the cow]

Which of those subjects was your first love?
As a high school student in the early 80's I was one of the most prominent amateur astronomers in Croatia but my first love was biology at elementary school, I've since become an expert on meteors, I'm completely fascinated by them! Geodesy came as a consequence of my interests in science and mathematics and psychology and film can be understood as parts of my deep interest in inner human life.

Tell us about the Dunav Film school.
Well, Dunav means 'Danube' in Serbian. Its a film school established in 1996 by Dunav Film which is still a production company. Courses last for two years which include intensive courses in different areas (from The History of TV to The Aesthetics of Editing), as well as practical exercises like making short films and TV/video work.

Which is your personal preference, narrative, documentary or animation?
Personally, I prefer narratives and docs. I love animation too but its not my forte. However, regardless of the genre, I adore short films generally and I'm devoted to their popularisation here in Serbia and in neighbouring countries.

Have you continued to direct since you started Filmska Pravda?
Since it started in January I've completed one short, footage for another two is waiting to be edited and I'm finishing the script for "The Terminal Point", a full length feature to be shot on DV which I'll be shooting in Belgrade in the late summer. "The Terminal Point" is a funny "XFiles" type story (as you can see, I'm a Chris Carter fan...) about the paranoia and conspiracy theories that rule Serbia in 2000. We are caught between the consequences of last year's NATO bombing and this year's open dictatorship imposed by the regime.

What are the current film industry climates in Serbia and Croatia?
Serbia produces an average of 5 full length features per year (at the end of 80's, before the war in Yugoslavia, the number ranged from 15 to 20). Almost all of those films are capable of attracting 100,000 to 500,000 of the domestic audience, which is no indication of the quality of those films). Most of them are shot on 16 mm because 35 mm is too expensive for filmmakers from a country in crisis like Serbia. But recently professional filmmakers here have begun to shoot on DV and I expect that the number of features to rise in the coming year. The most distinguished directors making films in Serbia are Emir Kusturica and Goran Paskaljevic. Both of them are big international stars but I don't think their films represent the situation in Serbia adequately, they just sell the picture of Serbia that the West want to buy. The amateur, short and underground film scene in Serbia had its best days from the 60's to late 80's but then the war began and that scene practically died. But in 1997, thanks to the LOW-FI VIDEO project I work on, that scene has been successfully resurrected. A new annual short and underground film festival (The Yugoslav Cheap Film Festival) was launched in 1998 and which will be held for the third time this summer. Besides that there's the annual Yugoslav Festival of Documentary and Short Film, which has a tradition spanning 40 years, but year after year this mainstream festival loses its significance. It's important to say that the amateur, underground and independent filmmakers in Serbia make films almost exclusively on video and DV because one can neither buy nor develop Super 8 film in Serbia. Dunav Film School that I attended is one of five film schools and workshops in Belgrade but it seems that the number of schools isn't always representative of the number of quality student films.

Regarding the situation in Croatia, I'm not too well informed because I don't live there anymore and because of the Serbo-Croatian war in '91' the communication between the two national scenes (despite both speaking the same language!) has diminished. As far as I know, Croats produce 3 to 5 features a year and present them at their annual national film festival in Pula. In 1999 Rajko Grlic, a famous Croatian director, launched an annual international film festival in Motovun that specialises in independent cinema and promises to become the region's leading festival. Besides that, there's the International Festival of New Film in Split (a pretty alternative one) and the One Minute Film Festival in Slavonska Pozega.
What Serbian and Croatian cinema need most is good screenplays, actors with film experience (most of them are primarily stage actors) and a well established production system.

Is the name 'Filmska Pravda' Serbian or Russian?
Filmska Pravda means "film justice" in Serbian, or "film truth" in Russian - I chose that name because it sounds Slavic and because it has a somewhat idealistic meaning.

How many people do you work with on the magazine and how do you construct it?
I work on FILMSKA PRAVDA all alone, believe it or not! I simply collect all the messages that people send to me, sometimes adding some interesting news I find here and there, (mailing lists like Shooting People or by surfing the net) then I write the editorial and that's it. I edit it in Notepad for two basic reasons:
1. I take the capacity of one Notepad file (25-30k) as a measure of what's acceptable as the maximum length of an e-mail message. I don't want to exceed it, so I usually have to significantly shorten messages that people send leaving only the most important information.
2. I like Notepad. I believe in simplicity. That's why I've arranged the Eurindie directory ( as a "silent (hyper) text only website with no frames" By the way, I maintain the Eurindie directory on my own as well. I find European independent cinema links by surfing and in e-mail messages and then put them in the directory (there are now more than 200 links on Eurindie). FP is delivered via free's mailing list, and the Eurindie directory is hosted at the free server. That's the only way I can do it. Due to the economic isolation of Serbia, it makes the traffic of money between Serbia and the rest of the world extremely difficult, I can't count on foreign sponsors.
So, both Filmska Pravda and the Eurindie directory are the same story, a strong belief in the "one man show" idea, free service and maximum simplicity.

Finally, how do you see the future of the magazine?
In the future, FP will become an HTML Webzine (its currently a plain text email newsletter), covering the news from the European independent cinema scene with special pages for the growing Eastern European indie market. There are some expected costs for Web hosting and server space as well as some honoraria for HTML editors - I'm no good in HTML or web design and I don't plan to remain the only one working on FP! So little finance would be used in that respect and, of course, FP needs to be more energetic and dynamic. As the only one working on FP I haven't managed to develop the newsletter in the way I'd like to, mostly due to my other obligations, but especially due to my preparations for "The Terminal Point".

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