Interviewed by: Phim Đen Trắng
Documentary MUST BE CREATIVE
Director Manouchehr Abrontan, is a native Iranian, he was born on June 14th 1955 in Teheran. He was granted Dutch citizenship, worked in Netherlands and is living now in Germany. He calls himself a a worldwild citizen with intercultural background, therefore he has a deep understanding of the culture and colorful world around him: “I have a gypsy heart/Yellow skin/Black mind/Red tongue/I am an outsider/Here on the earth/Among you/You all, heartless West/Colourless South/Deaf North/Lunatic East/I am myself/Myself/Myself…”
For him documentary must be the author’s own ego, and the message from one world to another world through visual language. At the 35th National Television Festival held in Quang Binh, director Manouchehr Abrontan was invited as a speaker of the forum “Interacting with the audience in television programs”. On the sidelines of the Festival we had a short conversation with him about making documentaries.
– Phim: Hello, I was surprised when you came to the seminar not as a documentary director.
– M.A.: I know some colleagues at VTV 18 years ago when I was working in the Media Training Centre in the Netherland. I was invited by VTV to a workshop to exchange experiences in making documentaries for the newborn VTV8 channel and participate at the Festival. At first glance, the seminar content has nothing to do with my love of doing documentaries. But as you can imagine the media increasingly flourishes as telephone, internet and social networks such as Facebook, youtube, Instagram are gaining market share of the large audience, how TV channels would become ? To me the modern media is just a bridge between the public and television stations, and documentaries with the strength of the image, truthiness, nonstop creativity, especially elements like “without borders and without language barrier” are determinant to the “interaction” of the TV audience.
– Phim: What made you come to the documentary making ?
– M.A.: I earn my living as a writer, film editor, lecturing about media and don’t allow myself to work too long in any country, except for the time living with family in Iran in 1987, so I have the opportunity to travel to many countries in the world. I have lived and worked in Holland 22 years and moved to Germany last seven years. In between, I worked in many countries. Since then I have discovered that there are things that this world knows but the other world doesn’t, and vice versa; that there are good side and bad side, the noble and the brutal mixed up, and only the visual language of the documentary could convey the message. I was self-study documentary filmmaking, learning all the methods, the genres, but I make documentaries my own way, not like anyone and I also don’t take any documentaries to any Film Festivals that have competition. I just come to the Festivals for documentary lovers of this art form that do not concern any awards.
– Phim: For you what is the most important for a documentary, the subject or the way of performing (presenting)?
– M.A.: I think both factors means nothing if you do not have the creativity, the “out of the box” in the presenting the work. You just imagine that only you know that subject and the method is your own. For me documentary in the first place is not for a group of audience, it is the product for everyone, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, all expressed in “unique and special” view of the director.
– Phim: With the “blooming” the documentary on television nowadays, by which criteria you can decide whether a film is a documentary.
– M.A.: You and I probably have learned that there are 6 documentary genres (poetic, observational, expository, reflexive, performative and participatory). To me these are the basic criteria to evaluate if it was a documentary or not. However, not only me, many people have creative combinations of genres in order to put a personal touch to their works. This is essential in the process of artistic creation, because documentary is an art form beyond space and time. Of course, documentary also requires many other standards for storytelling, character of the camera, editing, writing (if needed), music, production, distribution, broadcasting …
– Phim: What does the documentary filmmaker need, according to you ?
– M.A.: The documentary filmmaker is not just a “messenger” but must be “missionary”, “a messenger” with the keen eyes and ears, with rediligent heart, courage and always ready to receive the “rotten tomatoes” from the audience. The documentary filmmaker is an artists who grew up not from the stage, not by gifted talent, not by copying knowledge but by the innate qualities and sensory sensitivity.
– Phim: What plan are you cherished for the future ?
– M.A.: I work with inspiration and special sensibility of a documentary filmmaker, so I’m going to do a film about Vietnam. I will not follow a certain topic that I will do with my heart (Tim Toi ?)
– Phim: Thank you, I wish you a good health and many good movies, we are expecting your documentary about Vietnam.
Director Manouchehr Abrontan known through some documentaries such as “The Last Chapter Between Peace and War” (a film about World War II); “Once Upon A Time IN NEPAL” (a film about the situation of child labor in Nepal); “Street Angels” (a films about child labor in Iran); “What are you doing to me” …