All-star lineup of film directors lecturing at a Croatian postgraduate school

If you enroll in this special 3-year master course at the University of Split, you will be taught by Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant, Aki Kaurismaki, Carlos Reygadas and Atom Egoyan. Tilda Swinton will be around, too

Aki Kaurismaki: He'll probably let you smoke in class

We still can’t believe this is for real, but according to acclaimed Hungarian film director Bela Tarr, his postgraduate course at the Film academy in Croatia will feature some of the greatest film directors today. The jaw-droping lineup consists of award-winning directors such as Jim Jarmusch and Gus Van Sant (US), Aki Kaurismaki (Finnland), Carlos Reygadas (Mexico), Atom Egoyan (Canada) and one of the most important Icelandic directors, Fridrik Tor Fridriksson. Alongside them, German cinematographer Fred Kelemen and actress Tilda Swinton will teach students how to work with actors, with theoretical insights given by MoMA’s film department curator Jytte Jensen, editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinema journal, Jean-Michel Frodon, film critic of The Guardian Jonathan Romney and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum, among others.

Béla Tarr, the project’s initiator, explains what triggered the idea of opening a film school: “The idea came to me when I made my last film, after the experience of teaching at different places in the world. To my view, it is impossible to teach art, because every artist is different: they have their language and cultural background, they possess a talent of their own. In order for that talent to develop, they need to be free and brave. This is why I want this film school to give them a chance to do what they want. Myself and other teachers will support that process, protect them and put them ‘under an umbrella’. Because once they enter the film industry, they will suffer enough pain and humiliation, and here they can learn how to resist that.”

Tilda Swinton will teach students how to work with actors / Photo: ©Paolo Roversi

The curriculum is envisaged as a three-year postgraduate film course. The classes will combine theoretical courses, workshops with renowned international filmmakers and practical work. Screenings of films analysed within each course as well as historical/theoretical lectures would be public.

All of the ‘headliners’ confirmed their participation, the schedule is ready and everyone has their arrival and departure date, Tarr says. The course will not have age limits and the tuition fees will be adapted to the prices of other postgraduate courses in Croatia.

Putting together the financial structure is currently under way, involving Croatian ministries, European cultural funds, private donors and foundations, such as Korean Film Academy, as financiers. The school’s structure formally belongs to the University of Split.

Tarr points out that the school should be understood as a kind of laboratory where people can work and create together. “Like the Bauhaus in architecture: something between education and a movement, with a spirit of the whole school which is important and based on freedom.”

The application procedure for the Split film school starts on September 15, at the opening of the 17th Split Film Festival. You better start wrapping up those showreels.