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Czech Republic / Hungary / Poland / Slovakia

Matthieu Darras • Director, Pop Up Film Residency

“We want to offer a creative frame that would facilitate collaborative practices to hatch out at the stage when stories are being invented and films are being written”


- The founder and director of Pop Up Film Residency talks about the latest focus of the hub in the Visegrád region

Matthieu Darras • Director, Pop Up Film Residency

Founded in 2018 in Bratislava, Pop Up Film Residency aimed to become a hub and a concept that would travel around the world. Today, its network of residency programmes expands to the Mediterranean, the Nordic and the Baltic seas, with hosts in nine different countries. Now, Matthieu Darras, the founder and director of the concept, is introducing Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad, a new initiative slightly different from the previous editions. We had a chance to chat with him to learn more about it, about the new projects hosted and about the focus needed in the Visegrád region.

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Cineuropa: Pop Up Film Residency already has an established concept, and has been present in various locations. What is different about Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad?
Matthieu Darras:
With this initiative, we decided to exceptionally depart from the original concept of the Pop Up Film Residency, which consists in hosting only one project at a time. This time around, we will bring together three feature film projects in development hailing from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, in residency in Bratislava, where they will be matched with three Slovak feature film projects. This is due to the very objective of the Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad, aiming to encourage artistic collaborations in Central Europe, and more specifically among the four fellow Visegrád countries, already from the stage of designing films. This first edition of Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad also initiates a four-year cycle, as the Residency will be hosted in each of the countries at least once.

Why do you think that this kind of cultural connection is needed, especially in such a neighbouring region?
As an observer of Central European cinema for many years now, I had multiple occasions to witness the scarcity of collaborations between countries that, in my view, would greatly benefit from joining forces. One of the obvious explanations might be the lack of financial tools that could facilitate these partnerships, but this obstacle is gradually decreasing. An example of this experience is when I introduced two great producers to each other: Polish producer Ewa Puszczyńska (Cold War [+see also:
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Q&A: Pawel Pawlikowski
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) and Romania’s Ada Solomon (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn [+see also:
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) – the latter being a Pop Up Film Residency host herself. I was amazed they didn’t know each other personally from before, and now they are co-producing Tomasz Wasilewski’s new film Fools.

Is this kind of networking related to your new initiative as well?
The idea behind the Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad is quite similar. At our level, we want to offer a creative frame that would facilitate collaborative practices to hatch out at the stage when stories are being invented and films are being written. There are already such initiatives existing in the region, but not to the extent one can find in Western Europe. We think we can complement other programs. This is actually guided by the idea of creating synergies, which is why we decided to partner with three of the most dynamic film festivals in the region – the Ji.hlava Documentary Film Festival in Czech Republic, the Friss Hús Short Film Festival in Hungary, and the New Horizons Film Festival in Poland, especially working in connection with their ‘incubator activities’: Emerging Producers, Budapest Debut Film Forum, and New Horizons Studio+ respectively.

Could you offer us a first input on the selected project of the first edition?
We are truly delighted about the 6 feature film projects taking part – a selection marked by diversity, gender parity and new talents, with most projects being debut features. It’s striking that despite their different film languages, many of the projects are set within institutions (a school, a theatre, a secret club, etc.) that are clusters of Central European societies. And how these stories depict group dynamics that challenge figures of authority, ultimately revealing power abuses, violent practices and truth manipulations. This is the case of the debut features by Borbala Nagy and Jan Gebert. No doubt, we will have fun during the residency!

Regarding the mentors, who will be joining the creative teams this year?
We are so glad to involve mentors such as Dénes Nagy and Michał Oleszczyk, who demonstrate that expertise does not necessarily have to be brought from afar to be relevant. With his range of exceptional documentaries and short films over the last decade, Dénes Nagy was already one of the most promising new directors from Hungary, and the recent selection of his debut feature Natural Light [+see also:
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interview: Dénes Nagy
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in the main competition of Berlinale is just the confirmation of his incredible talent. A recognized film critic in Poland, Michał Oleszczyk programmed for the Off Camera Film Festival and was the artistic director of the Gdynia Film Festival. It surely took a lot of mental strength and courage for him to reinvent himself as a scriptwriter and script consultant, and he currently works successfully as a scriptwriter and story editor on several series projects of Canal+ Poland. I have always been impressed by the perceptiveness of his analyses.

Is the concept entirely focused on the region?
Despite the regional focus, it is important to convey that the Visegrád countries are far from being self-centered, and are in fact open to welcoming filmmakers from abroad. That is reflected both with the participants and the mentors: with the inclusion of Hannah Espia-Farbova, a Slovakia-based Filipino filmmaker whose debut feature Transit premiered in Competition at the 2013 Busan Film Festival and was Philippines’ Oscars submission, or with Sweden-based Brazilian screenwriter and consultant Helen Beltrame-Linné as mentor, who notably headed the Bergman Center Foundation on Fårö.

The 1st edition of Pop Up Film Residency Visegrad residents are:
Jan Gebert – Europa (Czech Republic)
Bartłomiej Żmuda – More (Poland)
Borbála Nagy – Nothing to See Here (Hungary)
Daniel Rihák and Ján Štiffel – My World Upside Down (Slovakia)
Jakub Medvecký – Cowgirl (Slovakia)
Hannah Espia-Farbová – Everything Will Be Fine (Slovakia)

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