YIDFF 2009 International Competition
An Interview with Martin Mareček (Director)

Actualizing a Desire for Change

Q: First of all, what drew you to make a film of the organization AUTO*MATE?

MM: This film is the second in a two-film project. First, I shot a film called Source between 2004 and 2005. It was about Azerbaijan, an oil-producing country on the coast of the Caspian Sea, where the reality is that all income from oil is monopolized by the government and those in league with them, and its citizens are forced to live exceedingly poor lives. I discovered this situation and felt I had to do something about it. AUTO*MATE is a work which documents the fact that if you want to change something, and if it’s possible to do so, then you have to do something. I could have made a film concentrating on a theme like politicians, urbanization or cars, but I realized that it was actually possible to improve this situation through creating an organization, and wanted to show the history of this kind of movement.

Q: What kept you going, and what beliefs did you hold during your involvement in AUTO*MATE’s activities?

MM: First of all, my greatest support was my family. My biggest objective wasn’t the making of a film but was the AUTO*MATE organization, begun six years earlier. When I thought about what needed to be done and what I wanted to do, there were times when I considered scrapping the film idea. But I think the film got made because of my belief that something had to be done, and because I wanted to keep supporting the AUTO*MATE movement. I think that I was able to achieve what I personally set out to do with the organization.

Q: I sensed that you used film to inform audiences of the movement’s activities because you feel that it’s a powerful medium.

MM: I think that film is about making a kind of space within our minds. So directors are the same as architects, in that they create public spaces. I think that people exchange opinions and discuss various issues within those spaces. That space differs depending on the film. For example, people could create a park, or it could be a library. They could also create a prison of emotion. With that in mind, I believe that films are places for raising and debating issues.

Q: I felt that you regarded humor with great importance in the film.

MM: For me, humor in film is an essential element. That’s because through the use of humor, we can gain a greater understanding of sad and painful situations. For example, watching a film full of humor can foster a meeting of minds between the viewer and the filmmaker more than an extremely stress-inducing film can. At the same time, humor opens people’s minds. By opening minds with enjoyable and amusing scenes, the film-created space that I mentioned earlier grows in size, which allows for greater acceptance of various ways of thinking. This film was also screened in Prague, and audiences laugh in different places. The difference in a cinema’s atmosphere according to the audience is very interesting. I think that viewers’ creation of space also differs depending on the person.

(Compiled by Hiroya Motoko)

Interviewers: Hiroya Motoko, Tsumoto Mari / Interpreter: Hirano Kanae / Translator: Don Brown
Photography: Laura Turley / Video: Kudo Rumiko / 2009-10-12