Interview done by Stefan Alievikj
Photography credits: Branko Kosteski
Ana Jakimska has graduated in General and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Philology Blaze Koneski in Skopje and afterwards has continued her studies in Film-making also in Skopje. Enthusiastic, motivated and progressive – with her work behind and her current engagements she always tackles some key-social and cultural challenges embedded in the Macedonian contemporary society. Her movies produced include: Shawl (2011, short), Call me Barbara (2013, documentary/short), Loverinth (2014, short) and It’s Cold Outside (2014, short, to be premiered on Skopje Film Festival 2014). She is also into photography and into storytelling and literature in general. We are happy to have Ana answering few questions for Mladiinfo this week!
M!: You already have Bachelor degree in literature behind before dedicating more to film-making, therefore, how would you describe your personal relationship with literature?
Ana: The thought of a dimly light library with never-ending bookcases and piles of books from different centuries, from all the far ends of the world, is one of the most exciting images out there. Anyone who will argue with that is a fool. I have been surrounded with books all my life, since both my mom and dad are literature majors. I remember, I wrote (what I then called) a novel when I was ten – it was a horribly developed story about me and my doll-brother venturing into a fantastic world in the depth of some woods. Maybe that was the first strong sign that I would not make a brilliant writer, although the passion was strong. But then I read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and thought I might become a good reader instead. And so, years later, I enrolled at the Department for Comparative Literature. My relationship with literature has never been a passing flame – rather, it is a deep devotion that will last a lifetime.
M!: As you continued your studies in the field of film-making, how do you find the combination of literature and movies?
Ana: Every filmmaker must love books. Books are going to teach you a lot about the way human mind and emotions work. It is true that in order to be able to tell a story as a filmmaker you will constantly need to get in touch with many different concepts of the world and different people, but it would be wrong to limit these “meetings” only to real life interaction. Why limit yourself to the present when you can grab a book and get in touch with the great minds that have lived before you? Lately, I have been spending my afternoons rereading Hemingway and I keep learning a lot about the art of storytelling from him. Maybe film-making has been around for a little more than a century, but storytelling, the core of the art of film, has been around forever.
M!: Who would you list as an influential artist to your work?
Ana: In terms of the visual, I have always been drawn to intense colors and diffuse lighting. It is a bit tricky to speak about my own visual style as I am still a newbie in film-making, but since I have been involved with photography for quite a while, I believe it is safe to assume that my visual expression has been influenced by film authors such as Pedro Almodovar, Wim Wenders, and more recently, Wes Anderson. I love people who do not shy away from vivid colors and know how to combine them well. The situation is much more straight forward when we speak about the story, or rather, the narrative of the film. My identity as a storyteller has been developed by years of reading and rereading writers such as J.D. Salinger and Raymond Carver. And if we look over to the film crowd, my major influence in this respect has been Woody Allen.
M!: What would be your 3 Favorite Novels vs. 3 Favorite Movies?
Ana: It is always a difficult task to pick a few from the bunch, but I hate vague replies to interview questions, so I will do my best to give you a fair answer. However, what I am about to write is directly influenced by how I feel today. I may leave out a favorite, and I hope that I will not regret this selection after I send in my answers.
Three favorite novels: 1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger; 2. The Sun Also Rises, E. Hemingway; 3. Other Voices, Other Rooms, T. Capote. Salinger is the pure genius of the literary art, he has managed to come to the essence of storytelling while writing the novel about Holden Caulfield. He combines the stream-of-consciousness technique with a masterful use of the ellipsis, thus creating a stylized yet realistic narrative. And Hemingway – he is the absolute king of prose, of course, but what I specifically like about the novels I chose above is its portrayal of the two genders and their deviations. While realism is always my first choice, every once in a while I enjoy a good southern gothic story, and Other Voices, Other Rooms makes for a fantastic read along the lines of the genre.
Three favorite movies: All About my Mother, P. Almodovar; 21 Grams, A.G. Inarritu; Head-On, F. Akin. Almodovar makes a wonderful use of colors and light, and in this film he also treats a transgender theme, which is something that has always interested me. Inarritu’s film is the masterpiece of fragmentary narration and I believe that it has paved the way for a revolution in world cinematography. Head-on, finally, is a harsh film which decidedly shies away from the idealized reality in Hollywood movies.
M!: What about Macedonian cinematography? Where do you see it going in the following years?
Ana: It is my sincere hope that Macedonian cinematography has finally had enough of the big political issues that have suffocated it since the independence. It is crazy, it is as if the directors have felt a certain duty to speak to the world about the country’s problems through their films in hope that the world might become interested to help resolve every historical injustice. For example, Milcho Manchevski’s Shadows starts off as a good horror story, but then he inserts into the narrative this big chunk about the Macedonian refugees of the Greek Civil War, and the whole film takes on a different direction, out of the genre. What we really need are well developed contemporary stories. Unless you’re in your 80’s or above, please don’t tell me that you can tell a story about World War II better than you could tell a story about a love triangle.
M!: When it comes to your work, can you possibly share what is cooking in your kitchen at the moment?
Currently I am writing the script for my next short film and it has been a whole lot of fun so far, as the main hero in the script is my alter-ego from a few years ago. It is good to laugh at yourself from time to time. The story will begin at a publisher’s desk: a young and vain writer has come to hear praises for his short stories, but the words that come out of the publisher’s mouth are something that is going to kill the young man’s self confidence in less than minutes. However, since I have chosen a career in film, I better not give out the rest of the story in writing – you’ll have to wait for the summer and see the film.
Furthermore, I have just completed a short horror film that is going to have its premiere on Skopje Film Festival 2014. If you come and see it during the festival, I promise you will be scared.
M!: Finally Ana, can you tell us where do you see yourself within the Macedonian contemporary culture?
Ana: I am hardly ever satisfied with my current status in any respect, but rather always look in the future and make elaborate plans about what is about to come. However, there is one trend in Macedonian contemporary culture, especially when we talk about Skopje, that somehow manages to get on my nerves, and that is the prevalence of bad art acclaimed by the local audience. We are talking low values, scarce education, little-to-no taste and a whole bunch of arrogance both on the side of the self proclaimed artists and on the side of the audience. Public recognition has always been important to me as much as my good health, but along these lines, it is seriously losing its value.