2. For the viewers unfamiliar with the history and culture of Eastern Europe, what do you hope they will walk away with after watching Please Hold the Line? For someone who comes from Eastern Europe but has lived and worked in Western Europe, were there any parts of the day-to-day life you particularly wanted to show to the viewers from other cultures?
Even if the mise-en-scène is a part of Eastern Europe, I didn’t intend to make a film about that particular part of Europe. Situations represented and stories told in the film are universal. For example, someone from Spain has watched the film recently and told me that it reminded her of people from Andalucia, where she grew up. Geographic considerations weren’t really as decisive as my personal connection to the area. The location is only significant to me in that I can move around easily and I know the languages. That enables me to conduct research and to keep my eyes open.
What always matters to me are the people. I want to make it very clear that we are all equal and yet each person constitutes a world of their own, an individual planet. No matter which sophisticated means of communication are available to us, we continue to understand each other with great difficulty because everyone has their own perspective on life and a uniquely individual way of expressing themselves. As far as I’m concerned, language is a constant source of many problems.
3. Were there moments and places that did not end up making the final cut? Can you give us an insight into your editing process, how were you deciding which stories to include?
I had to knock on many doors. 70% of the people let me in, and 5% of them were interesting encounters who ended up in the film. Some scenes were really good as single entities, but because they don’t help in constructing a dramaturgical structure, I had to rest them on hard discs. Unfortunately, in a documentary film, you have to sacrifice a lot of good footage in editing. That’s a known fact.
4. Please Hold the Line has a vast amount of symbolism surrounding the conflict of old and new, communication and isolation, mass media and its recipients. Can you talk more about how these themes took shape as you were making the film?
The question already contains some answers.
I pose a set of questions to myself before starting a project. While seeking answers during the filmmaking process, new questions arise at the end. The main purpose is to make a film that not only confirms some assumptions but also generates new ideas, some of which are ideas for my new film subjects.
An auteur documentary film is not based on pre-fabricated drama. I try to work intuitively. All the symbolism or analogies that you see or feel in the film result from a creative process that isn’t necessarily based on theoretical ideas or knowledge.
The same goes for watching the film. Often it is better to enjoy what you see and feel during the screening than try postulating the existence of an “objective reality”.