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Slovakia

Jana Keeble • Vice-dean for foreign affairs, VSMU

“We encourage the participation of our students in international festivals and events”

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- Our conversation focused on the main learning opportunities offered to prospective students by VSMU’s Film and Television Faculty

Jana Keeble  • Vice-dean for foreign affairs, VSMU

We had a chat with Jana Keeble, Vice-dean for foreign affairs at VSMU’s Film and Television Faculty, in order to discuss the main learning opportunities that it offers to prospective students. This Bratislava-based institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).

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Cineuropa: What is your school’s main educational mission? What are the main benefits for prospective international students?
Jana Keeble: We enable students to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of film art thanks to a combination of practical film teaching and theoretical background. The pedagogical approach to students is on an individual basis, in order to support their distinct talent, their artistic and/or theoretical and personal development, the originality of their world view, their individual signature, and their desire to bring courageous stories of the world in which they live onto the screen. Students are given the space and the means to acquire forms of expression in film art, and to constantly seek new inspiration and develop their talent. We help them to find the strength in their inner voice and to use it to freely express something essential. We consider freedom of expression to be one of the most important elements of artistic work, and it’s something that entails a sense of responsibility towards the communities in which we live and work. This is regardless of what might be perceived as “difference” – it’s a common respect for all cultural, social, religious, racial, gender, political and philosophical differences. The school has a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of abusive and authoritarian behaviour that aim to subvert and suppress human rights and freedom of expression. With regard to our creative production, we adopt an approach that endorses integrity, honesty and truthfulness, and which does not seek to manipulate or distort facts or to influence ideas and opinion. It is of great importance for us to uphold integrity and respect towards our shared environment and for the well-being of all people. The film-faculty departments are all on one site, making it easy for students to find their way around, which we feel gives an intimate atmosphere. As many subjects are practical, the teaching is structured into smaller working groups; therefore, it is more personal and hands-on between students and teachers.

What type of study programmes do you offer?
The Film and Television Faculty (FTF) provides a highly structured education in film, television, audiovisual media, theory and art. We offer programmes at all three levels – bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Our departments are Directing, Screenwriting, Documentary Film, Animation, Editing, Sound Design, Camera, Visual Effects, Game Design, Audiovisual Studies, Production and Theoretical Audiovisual Studies.

How should a student prepare for admission?
We look for creative, ambitious students able to present their original ideas and plans. An important part of the entrance exam is the presentation of a portfolio of an applicant’s original work. With regard to this, each department is slightly different. Usually, a portfolio might consist of film projects, art works, photography and sound recordings, and this depends on the individual department. Prospective students should show awareness as well as practical and technical abilities in the area of film along with a background knowledge of the film industry and history.

How are you adapting your teaching and other study activities owing to the pandemic?
All subjects have been moved online. We strive to provide suitable conditions for our students to enable them to plan and realise their projects. We have moved discussions, workshops, presentations, master classes and lectures online. We keep supporting and encouraging our students to find ways to adapt their work and plans to the currentsituation.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
We encourage the participation of our students in international festivals and events. Our students’ films have been presented in student categories at Cannes, Annecy, Cairo, Toronto, Karlovy Vary and many other important festivals. We actively advise and help them to present their work abroad; we support their international ambitions and look for creative contacts, exchange opportunities and professional relationships leading to a successful career in filmmaking. Every year in October, we organise the student film festival Áčko, where their movies are screened, and the winners are awarded by a professional jury.

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