“Aristoteles Workshop, an excellent learning tool”

Aristoteles Workshop (AW), the international documentary workshop organized by Dan Nutu, started two weeks ago. During this time, the students were guided by Dutch filmmakers John Appel and Jeroen Bekvens. Below you have what part of the students and the tutors think about the start of this year’s workshop.

The first day of the workshop, the participants presented their reels (fragments from their films) in front of their colleagues, the tutors and the AW crew. This way, they got to know each other, from an artistic and professional point of view, as directors, editors and cinematographers.

A series of theoretical classes followed, about cinematic tools and basic techniques of film language, about its rules, the difference between observing and recording, how the image can manipulate perception, how the human mind perceives an image, a frame, etc. The classes were combined with practical exercises on the field, viewing and analyzing documentaries, talking about the means the director used to obtain different effects.

Each day, the participants went out on the field to search (and shoot) their future subjects that they will shape into four 30 minutes documentary films by the end of the workshop. During the first two weeks, each team set it’s own working rhythm and started constructing the relationship with the characters that their films will be centered on.

What this year’s participants are saying after the first two weeks:

Bogdan Barbu (cinematographer, 28 years old, Romania): “I’ll put it this way – you only have one month to research, build a relationship with your character(s), shoot, edit and show a half an hour documentary and at the same time get to know, and get in sync with your team-mates, we all have different backgrounds and different styles, so in that regard AW is all about challenges; this is the uniqueness of AW, you just have to grasp the opportunity and go for it!”

Evdokia Moskvina (director, 30 years old, Russia) “Being here is a real challenge for me: totally unknown country, language, crew, and only one week to find a strong story for our documentary. For me, Aristoteles Workshop is a great possibility to discover new ways, both in filmmaking and in working with people”

Raluca Petre (editor, 24 years old, Romania): “First of all, as an editor on Aristoteles Workshop I want to obtain two things for the film we are making here: structure and rhythm. It is important not to choose well known paths but to think about what is authentic from your point of view, as a filmmaker, now. And this is what we have been doing here for the past two weeks.”

Răzvan Chirilă (cinematographer, 23 years old, Romania): “Having the opportunity to get fast feedback from my team and tutors, I’d like to go as far as possible with the image aesthetics and visual structure, without repeating ourselves or being afraid to take risks. I find a lot of similarities between the people living in Vama and the ones in my hometown so I feel we can make a very personal and intimate documentary.”

Alina Manolache (director, 24 years old, Romania): “Being a concentrated effort, the challenge for me at Aristoteles Workshop is to get something different through a set of creative limitations, imposed by the tight deadlines.”

Ruben Agadjnean (cinematographer, 29 years old, Moldova): “Here in AW you’re not taking part just as a cameraman, an editor or a sound recordist. You are actually designing everything from an exercise to a documentary with the other crew members. You also get a bunch of possibilities to prove and to improve your skills, ideas and artistry.”

Diana Rădulescu (editor, 24 years old, Romania): “Aristoteles Workshop is all about finding yourself through the characters and their emotions and, finally, through the films that we’re making here. Great people, beautiful places, amazing workshop!”

Erno-Aron Palfi-Horvath (cinematographer, 22 years old, Hungary/Romania): “The first week of Aristoteles Workshop was the learning period and two tutors came from the Netherlands to teach us how to make a quality documentary movie. In this learning process we were given small assignments, which helped us to better understand the fundamental structure of a documentary. The housing is great, the food is more than exceptional and the people are all unique and wonderful. In short, Aristoteles Workshop is a fantastic and luxurious opportunity.”

Filmmakers John Appel and Jeroen Berkvens on AW 9th edition

John Appel (director, cinematographer, guest lecturer at the Dutch Film and Television Academy and many international workshops) says about the concept of Aristoteles Workshop of learning, teaching, conceptualizing, filming, evaluating and making finally a film within a period of four weeks, that it is quite unique.

In that sense, I think it’s one of the best learning schools you could get in making a film. It is very helpful to have this one-month pot of melting energy, with searching for subjects, straight deadlines and finally having to make the films. So in its uniqueness I think it’s an excellent tool to learn.

The second tutor, Jeroen Berkvens (filmmaker, documentary film professor, producer and member of the Dutch Film & Television Academy, with international awards for his films on music, love or both):

“It’s a cliché, but in order to make a good documentary you need to “follow your heart”. And it can be “about anything”, which is another cliché, but again, very true. In order to make a true story it must come from the heart, you have to be passionate about it and most of all, curious. If you are not curious, how do you expect the audience to be curious about your story? And curiosity cannot be trained. You either are curious or you aren’t. It’s one of the starting points.”

Experts John Appel and Jeroen Berkvens passed the baton to tutors Nino Kirtadze, who has already been working with the students for the past couple of days and Tania Rakhmanova, who joined us this weekend from Paris. The final evaluation of the projects will take place in front of a jury of international filmmakers, at the end of the workshop.

The 9th edition of Aristoteles Workshop is taking place in Vama village in Bucovina (Suceava county), between 20th of August and 21st of September. The host of the workshop is Casa Calin.