Prague’s FAMU has been ranked fourth best international film school in the Hollywood Reporter’s annual Top Film Schools list. The publication praises the film and TV academy as an institution with a great tradition that has produced such names as the Oscar-winning directors Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel. It also highlights FAMU’s international programme, which is attended by around 100 aspiring filmmakers from around the world. FAMU dean Pavel Jech welcomes the news.
“It’s news that we’re happy to hear about. Even though we are very well recognized in this country and in Slovakia, it is always good to have international recognition as well. The film industry and film education is an international endeavour these days it’s an international activity, so we are very happy to be considered among some very excellent schools which are in that ranking. “
The Hollywood Reporter mentions the long tradition of your school and some of the graduates including Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel. But besides tradition, what do you think makes FAMU better than other film schools?
“One of the things that make FAMU a very good school is that it’s a centre for film professionals to meet with very talented students. The philosophy hasn’t changed in the seventy years of its existence.
“It is primarily about mentorship, one on one work between very accomplished professionals and very talented students and practical work, which means that most of the time at school is focused on making films or audiovisual work and that is complemented with theoretical work which gives people a broader understanding. Among [Czech] film schools we are one of those that have university status in this country.”
You have about a hundred foreign students attending your school. Has that number been increasing over the past year?
“FAMU has always been in demand. We usually have about ten times as many applicants as we have places for students. We’ve gradually raised the amount of vacancies for international students, but we can’t keep growing in an unlimited way.
“One hundred English students is about the capacity that we can allow. However, it is also important to note that about 25% of our Czech speaking student body are foreigners, international students who have chosen to study in Czech and learn the Czech language. They are also a very important component of this school.”
Do you think the current generation of students has the potential to reach that very high bar which was set by previous generations? Do we have many great films to look forward to?
“The bar was set very high. What happened in the sixties is sometimes called the ‘Czechoslovak film miracle’. You never know if we are going to get quite to that level, but our students have been doing very very well and in the last five years we have been represented in the Cinéfondation de Cannes short film competition.
“Each year we had a different film there. We’ve had three feature film documentaries that have been released in theatres this past year that were graduation projects. One of them was nominated for the LUX Prize, which only happens to ten films in the whole European Union. Only professional films are nominated for that. One of them was also featured at the Berlinale film festival.
“So I think that the future looks very bright. If they are going to get to quite that level of complete fame and absolute top that the Czech new wave reached is something that you can never predict of course, but definitely the talent is here and things are happening at this school.”