Interview: Réka Bucsi, Director of LOVE

LOVE is a short film describing affection in three different chapters, through an impact on a distant solar system. Abstract haiku-like situations reveal the change in atmosphere on one planet, caused by the change of gravity and light. This pulsing planet makes the inhabitants become one with each other in various ways. The film premiered at the 66th Berlinale Short Competition and has received wide praise and immediate acclaim. We spoke to the film’s director, Réka Bucsi

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So since the film’s premier, how has the last year been for you and what projects have you been working on since?

Yes, it has been a very busy year but also very nice, of course. I tried to travel to even more festivals than I could with my previous film Symphony No. 42 as I think it is very important to be there. I spent one month working on a film with Peter Millard, a British Animator, at an Artists Residence programme in Vienna. I was also in Denmark where I was doing the festival signal film for the Viborg Animation Festival. In-between these travelings I did quite a few festival teasers for different film and animation festivals. Right now I’m working on a 50 minute film, an almost feature-length film, which has been under construction for almost a few months now. It is quite exciting to be working on something longer.

What was your motivation behind making a film about this theme of love?

There wasn’t anything personal behind it. I was really interested in how this universal theme could be captured. So many filmmakers try to approach this theme to give emotions and feelings to it and I think in many cases it really fails. I was trying to make something that would be a little more abstract and tactile, something you would want to touch and experience. I tried to make a film about the sensation and the atmosphere of love. I was doing a lot of research about love and how it is different in every culture. It is such a universal thing that no one can really put into exact words because it is a mystery, but at the same time it should be the same for everyone but I’m sure its not the same for anyone, so its an interesting topic, I think.

You structured this film in three chapters: Longing, Love, Solitude. Why did you decide to structure the film in this way and was it always planned to be in this format?

The chapters came very early on. I wanted to do a film with chapters for once and I think its a nice way to pace the film. With a film like this I felt it made sense. The title is Love and these chapters are not metaphors for anything, they are not symbolic of anything else than they are. But because the film is filled with all kinds of abstract and symbolic things I wanted to have a structure that was clear and direct for the audience.

Did you have any intention for the film to be either a heart-warming or melancholic representation of love at all?

No. I actually try and stay away from intentions like this. You can’t really do anything without any feelings being involved. I think if its an honest piece of work it’s going to have something that will transmit to the audience. That’s what I think filmmakers have to go for. Not to try to do a melancholic film or a funny film or whatever you want to do, but just to make something that you feel is right. I don’t like if a film makes me want to feel this or that way because then I feel I don’t have enough space for myself to interpret it.

What was the software that you use and what was the process in making this film? How long did it take you to make the film?

It was hand drawn on a digital tablet in Photoshop and the animation was made in TVPaint which is a very classic frame-by-frame animation software. It took about a year to make the film.

As a Hungarian filmmaker are you able to tell me a little bit about the wider context of short animation filmmaking in Hungary right now?

This film wasn’t made in Hungary and I mainly work abroad so I don’t work too close with the Hungarian film industry but it’s definitely a very blooming industry right now. I think this is mainly because there is quite good governmental support and a good film funding system in Hungary. I think the main reason why the Hungarian animation industry is making a lot of work now is because of the school I attended, the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest. It is the biggest art university in Hungary and it has a very internationally focused animation department. They have a lot of films that go to the Berlinale or Cannes or other big A-List festivals and students can go abroad and work with the international industry. It’s a really good thing it is kind of like a new era of animation in Hungary.

Which filmmakers or animators have inspired you?

This is really a tough question. I watch like 5 movies a day and I watch films while I work.

Of course when I was growing up I watched Disney and I still really appreciate what they did in the days of the 2D drawn feature films that they made. I think they are genius. I think Miyazaki is amazing and I could mention more names but I think I’m more inspired by the people doing animation around me who are either here in Hungary or internationally. The whole animation industry is really inspiring and I think if you go to the festivals, see the films, meet the people, then it is the best thing you can do for inspiration.

What advice would you give to young filmmakers?

I guess I would just say watch a lot of films and work a lot. A lot of times I see that someone wants to do this but then they don’t really do it. It isn’t easy to work in this industry, there is a lot of competition and a lot of talented people out there. If you want to live by doing this as a freelancer or make your own films there is always going to be a huge competition in the funding process. Just don’t give up and keep doing work that you think is good. Also try and do your own thing. If it’s honest work that you put out, it is going to resonate with someone.  

LOVE is part of the International Competition 4: The Limits of Control programme.

Interview by Amelia Seely