The winners of the 2012 Sight & Sound Young Journalist Competition

The entries and the winners of our competition for wannabe film interviewers, 15-22.


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Dasha Lisitsina, the winner of our Young Journalist Competition in the 19-22 category, with our editor Nick James.

Dasha Lisitsina, the winner of our Young Journalist Competition in the 19-22 category, with our editor Nick James.

We’re delighted to announce the two winners of our 2012 Young Journalist Competition: in the 15-18 age category, 17-year-old Lydia Poulteney from Faversham in Kent, and in the 19-22 category, Dasha Lisitsina, 21, from London. We brought both to the BFI in October for an interview training session with our editor Nick James, and the chance to conduct a real interview with a visiting filmmaker at the London Film Festival.

To recap, entrants were asked: If you could interview any director in the world – alive or dead – who would you choose? Which five questions would you ask them if you were restricted to one theme or film?

Dasha chose Andrei Tarkovsky, and proposed the following questions:

  • Your films are very ’poetic’ visually and you often use excerpts from poetry – sometimes your father’s. You have also said tha you ’prefer to express yourself metaphorically’. What is the link/relationship – if there is one – in your opinion between film and poetry?
  • Do you pay more attention to the cinematography of a scene – its sheer visual beauty – or to its role as a story-telling device in the visual narrative? Or are the two things inextricably linked?
  • Your films often deal with the psychological and/or the science-fictional. How do you show the invisible in visual terms?
  • To what extent is the cryptic and metaphorical nature of some of your films a necessary means to get your ideas through Soviet censorship, as opposed to the result of an artistic choice?
  • To what extent do you think your films portray a belief in another, spiritual or physical, world? Do you believe in the existence of another world?

We matched Dasha with Scott Graham, the writer-director of the striking Highland feature Debut Shell; you can read her interview here.

Lydia imagined putting the following questions to Tim Burton, director of the festival’s opening-night premiere Frankenweenie:

  • If you could live life as any character of any film you have ever created, who would it be any why?
  • As opposed to Edward’s scissors, what object would you want to replace your hands and why?
  • How did you get into directing and the film industry in general, for those aspiring filmmakers?
  • If Beetlejuice could solve any problem for you, what would it be?
  • What would you say is the benefit of creating a film using animation as opposed to filming real people and props, as you have explored both?

We introduced her to Jeremy Teicher, the 23-year-old director of the Senegalese village fable Tall as the Baobab Tree. You can read her work here.

Thanks to all the other competition entrants. Amongst the other proposed questions that most engaged or intrigued us:

Thanks too to Scott, Jeremy, Verve Pictures and the London Film Festival’s Education department for all their help.

  • Has Christopher Nolan ever confused himself or his actors with his non-linear stories?
  • What would Vincente Minnelli’s attitude be to the vanished craftsmanship of studio-era set design?
  • What would Joe Wright say to people who think his work veers on the superficial side?
  • Are Ingmar Bergman’s female characters much more primal and frank in their sexuality because of the physical act of sex, or for psychological reasons?
  • What type of cheese does Steven Spielberg think Tom Hanks’s character in Saving Private Ryan would like?

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