Conversation with Dragan Ristovski: The respect and culture of watching movies left a positive impression on me

Dragan Ristovski in Berlin

An excellent opportunity to watch European films and visit the film festival in Berlin is provided by the innovative project "European Film Challenge", and this year the effect of the challenge was experienced by film buff Dragan Ristovski.

The European Film Challenge project is a young cinephile community of European film lovers eager to experience cinema from the front lines through film content, recommendations and exclusive access to films and festivals.

To participate in the project, you need to register on the appropriate platform, during ten weeks watch ten European cinematographic achievements at festivals, in cinemas, on television or on legal online platforms and enter this on your profile, and for each film the title should be "attached" together with a photo proving that the film has been seen, as well as indicating the place or platform on which the projection was broadcast.

The project has been implemented in our country for three years by the Center for Social Innovations "Blink 42 - 21", together with European partners in 13 countries with the support of the program MEDIA - Creative Europe and the European film industry. This year, the Macedonian winner of the "European Film Challenge" was Dragan Ristovski, who received the opportunity to go to Berlin as a prize.

What motivated you to participate in the "European Film Challenge"?

– The award itself was a great motivation, and in addition, of course, I constantly watch European films. The winner of the challenge went to the Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale. This year it was me and I am very pleased with the overall experience.

Dragan Ristovski's "European Film Challenge" project enabled him to visit the Berlinale festival

How and when did your interest in film art develop, in general?

– I could not specifically point out one specific moment. I know that I have always been interested in seemingly opposite interests. For example, technique and art, and especially photography. However, the process of making a film itself combines quite a lot of artistic and technical skills, so that love for film came quite naturally to me.

What movies did you watch to meet the criteria for the challenge?

- The films that brought me victory are: "Heavens Above", "Sisterhood", "Grandfather and Grandson", "An Unforgettable Spring in a Forgotten Village" Village), "Mimi", "Balkan is not dead", "Snow White dies at the end", "Vera dreams of the sea" ), "My lake" and "The night before Saint Basil". I also looked at many others during the challenge, but these are, let me call, the decisive ones.

Berlin is an artistic city with many interesting places to visit

The award brought you a visit to Berlin during the film festival. What experiences did you gain from visiting the Berlinale?

- Berlin is an artistic city in which there are many interesting places to visit. Being able to visit the Berlinale further offered an interesting experience to see how it all works. In my opinion, this is the best film festival in Europe, which is more oriented towards the audience itself. Apart from film screenings, you could attend workshops, the topics of which I think change every year and there is obviously a lot of interest in visiting them. The Berlinale is definitely a huge film festival, which requires planning to get to and see all the things that interest you.

Being able to visit the Berlinale further offered an interesting experience to see how it all works

What was the agenda set by the organizers of the challenge and what left the most impression on you?

- In particular, there was no strict agenda. The choice of films was left to me. Fortunately, I was also at a screening at the "Berlinale Palace", which is particularly interesting because it is a multi-level theater building and it is an experience to watch a film in it. Also, the respect and culture of watching a movie left a positive impression on me. I didn't see any cinema selling popcorn and snacks, so there was no one to snack on while watching the screening. As an alternative, I saw a viewer with a glass of wine or beer, which is a more elegant solution than someone eating while watching the movie and disturbing others. Such a practice would be interesting to introduce in our country as well.

What do you do when you're not watching movies?

- I am 46 years old and I work as a technical support in "Neotel". I would single out photography and cycling as hobbies. I know how to ride a bike for longer distances, not just as a means of transportation. Last year, however, I was less active, but this year I hope to drive more kilometers.

Photography, on the other hand, has been my passion for many years. I was pleasantly surprised that Berlin is full of interesting locations for inspiration. I was personally fascinated by the underground stations, and I would also mention the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe. There were kids running and they suddenly appear in your frame, so I deliberately positioned myself where I expected someone to appear. In my opinion, it is better when there are people in the photo. There is some interaction with the environment and it always has a different feel than a photograph of an empty monument or location.

(The interview was published in "Cultural Press" number 171, in the printed edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 18-19.3.2023)

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