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Interview: Fred Kelemen

26. 04. 2022

From April 11 to April 16 Cinematography and Directing Workshop with Fred Kelemen was held in Split for the third time. Workshop was part of International film program Mind the image/Pazi na sliku organized by Kino klub Split. On the occasion, our program coordinator, Dragutin Andrić made an interview.

You were studying on German Film & TV Academy Berlin (dffb) from 1989 to 1994 and before that you studied painting, music, philosophy, religious science and drama studies and worked in various theatres as a director’s assistant. Please tell us what inspired you to enter the world of cinema?

– F. K.: The moving image. Its ability to transcendent the material world to metaphysical reality without neglecting the sensuality of the physical.

In 1989 the Berlin wall was taken down. It was a year of political and social changes all around Europe. Were you influenced by these changes as a film-maker?

– F. K.: No.

Can you compare the situation then and today?

 – F. K.: It was a better situation, because everything was more open, there was more space for options, it was more creative, positively anarchic, the atmosphere was full of hope, and Utopia was closer, certain dreams were not broken then. It was after the Cold War. Now we see a relapse to a world where wars are legitimate and easily chosen, accepted means and a return of militarism on all sides. We are living in a dark time dominated by an ideology of destruction and dehumanization.

You were working as a director and as a cinematographer. As a cinematographer you collaborated with lots of different filmmakers. How do you choose a project to work on?  

– F. K.: If three things are well, I go for a project as cinematographer: The script has to inspire me to see images in my mind. A deep look into the eyes of the director has to tell me that I can trust him or her artistically and human. The production conditions have to be acceptable.

How do you find ideas, inspiration for your own films?

– F.K.: They appear inside me like a ghost or a shadow and when I concentrate on them and follow them, they become more clear and alive; they fill up with blood, light and dimension.

What is the toughest aspect of filmmaking?

– F. K.: Ones own snares and demons.

It can be a laborious job, what keeps you motivated?

– F. K.: My light, my passion, faith and love and my conviction that art /creativity matters more than anything except love.

Do you believe that cinema has the power to change society?

– F. K.: No. Only persons can change societies. But films can sensitize, touch, motivate and as well manipulate persons. Films can have a strong power and effect. Propagandists, demagogues etc. know this, too, unfortunately.

You have been a supportive member of Kino klub Split since 2013 and this is the third time you are doing a workshop within its organization. It is a place ruled by citizens who want to improve and develop film culture with focus on amateur film production. Why do you think places like this matter?

– F. K.: Places like this can be power stations for the art of film, meeting points for spirits where energies concentrate; individuals meet who are united by a similar desire and passion beyond a spiritually and humanly corrupted capitalistic film industry, and where the sparks of inspiration can be kindled to a great fire of true expression in film art.

What advice would you like to give to the young film-makers?

– F. K.: Don‘t follow advices; make experiences. Trust yourself. Be attentive to listen to the inner voice. And follow your light.

Fred Kelemen, Kino klub Split (2022), photo: Dragutin Andrić
Workshop participants with Fred Kelemen, Kino klub Split (2022); photo: Dragutin Andrić
Workshop participants Josip Šimić, Mihael Bažoka and Tina Ljubenkov, Kino klub Split (2022); photo: Dragutin Andrić
Fred Kelemen, Kino klub Split (2022), photo: Dragutin Andrić