I recently had a chance to sit down with the great documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto, whose works I have admired for many years. The director was the subject of a retrospective at the 2018 One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, in Prague, where I interviewed her for FRED Film Radio. You can listen to the full interview in podcast form here: http://www.fred.fm/uk/kim-longinotto-jedensvet2018/
One of the questions I asked her was whether she thinks that one has to agree with a film ideologically to deem it a good film. Here’s what Longinotto answered:
“That’s a good question. I think it’s good if it challenges you. I quite like films with happy endings, I have to admit a weakness. And I love people triumphing over adversity, I do, even if in a small way – or at least trying. For example, a Polish film, Ida [Pawel Pawlikowski, 2013], was made by a friend of mine. I was absolutely heartbroken that she went back to the convent. And I thought, ‘oh no, Pawel, this is such a good film that if I had made it she would not have gone back.’ I don’t want them to do the weak thing. Lars von Trier does that. And for me, it’s a very important thing that there’s hope. It can be sad but they have to triumph in some way for me.”
I guess Longinotto didn’t really answer the first part of the question but focused on what, for her, makes a film good. But that just goes to show that although Longinotto, like her films, is a political person, she also has a very human understanding of films and when she says she loves happy endings and films that show some type of triumph over adversity, she highlights a very positive side of filmmaking that she obviously connects with whether it is when watching other people’s films or making her own.