One For All

in 46th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

by Violeta Kovacsics

“At the end of my conference on ethics I spoke in first person. I think this is completely essential. Here, it is impossible to establish anything else, I can only appear as a personality and speak in first person.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“There are no producers like Roger Corman anymore”, said Monte Hellman in Karlovy Vary. “Corman used to shake hands and that meant the deal was closed, there was no need for contracts. Now, everything is impersonal, you don’t know who you are dealing with. Who is Sony, for instance?”

I saw two documentaries on film in Karlovy Vary. The first one, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, tells the story of a type of producer and director who is about to extinguish. The second one, Starting Out: The Making of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End tries to rebuild the shooting and production of Jerzy Skolimowski film Deep End by interviewing the actors and the main crew.

In this light, Monte Hellman’s fiction Road to Nowhere might be seen as a portrait of the director’s experience in film, as it is focused on a filmmaker who is actually shooting a film called ‘Road to Nowhere’. All of these three film are intrinsically related to genres: Corman was ahead of many people in horror, exploitation, road movies; Skolimowski made a horror movie that starts as a free cinema exploration of a teenager; and Hellman builds a film noir about movie making that flirts with comedy.

“Film is a collaborative medium”, said Monte Hellman at his presentation of Road to Nowhere in Karlovy Vary. Martin Donovan’s feature debut Collaborator (Canada/US, 2011) is a actually a film that deals with collaboration between actors, directors and writers: the main point of the movie being a gesture of generosity — Martin giving another actor, David Morse, the best role. Skolimowski and his crew talk about an incredible group experience. And Roger Corman is a figure that launched many people’s careers, like that of Monte Hellman himself. Cinema invariably combines both a personal point of view (that of the director) and team work. I often think about Jacques Rivette, one of the fathers of politique des auteurs, who made also several movies letting the actors write part of the script and introducing elements of their real life. We would not hesitate to see his films as authorial works, each with its own private voice. And yet we would not hesitate to consider collaborative way of film-making as an important feature of Rivette’s cinema.

Starting Out shows how the actors and the crew remember the shooting of Deep End as an incredible team work experience. At the same time, however, they often point out that Skolimowski was the true leader. In one moment the main actors remember that during the shooting they did not understand why Skolimowski wanted a shot where someone is seen to paint the bath corridor in red. The shot is truly important because it subtly anticipates the final tragedy. In Starting Out: The Making of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End, Skolimowski says that one of the great influences for his film was the cinema of Jacques Demy, who painted the walls and shops of Cherbourg. This idea of working with colors, of letting violence and bloody red paint impregnate the movie is necessary to build Deep End as  naïve tragedy, a combination of adolescent love discovery and deep instinctual desires. And this is where the voice of the author dominates. Film is a collaborative medium, indeed; but directors speak in first person.