Lost Weekend

30 oct. 2023
Lost Weekend

Fata Morgana Productions, Lost Weekend, © Govinda Van Maele
Article in English
Author: Ben Kraemer
Photo: Fata Morgana Productions, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023 © Govinda Van Maele

We usually don’t like to lose something. In this case, however, a lost weekend might be exactly what aspiring filmmakers should look out for.

Lost Weekend is a film challenge where professionals and amateurs, even absolute beginners, are invited to shoot and produce a short film during one single weekend. The results are then shown at a public screening event. The challenge is an initiative of Filmreakter a.s.b.l., a non-profit organisation that aims to build a bridge between the professional and non-professional filmmaking scenes in Luxembourg. After the spring edition of Lost Weekend in March, Filmreakter presents the short films of their Halloween Edition 2023 on October 31st at the Cinémathèque.

Sofiya Kudryavtseva is an independent filmmaker with a master’s degree in philosophy and one of the organisers of the event. She takes us behind the curtains of their spooky spin-off.

Lost Weekend Team (Sofiya K. on the left), 2023, © Riccardo Tomasini
Lost Weekend team (Sofiya K. on the left), Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Riccardo Tomasini

The finished products of their latest film challenge are already in, and Sofiya is more than happy with the results. “As long as people have fun, we are happy,” Sofiya points out. A pleasant experience thus outweighs the final result. „We don't want to put pressure on [the participants], and we would like to allow them the safe space to experiment and be silly, you know, and not to strive for some kind of ideal of perfection in terms of filmmaking.“

Going back to the origin of the idea for Lost Weekend, Sofiya grabs her phone and calls Govinda Van Maele, film director and founding member of Filmreakter in 2002. “The concept for the 48-hour film challenge is nothing particularly new, and it exists in many places,” he says. “So, there was the idea of doing one in Luxembourg that we had for quite a long time, and to kind of adapt the concept to our own needs.” The first edition finally took place in 2020.

“The core idea, or maybe the ideology of Lost Weekend, is to have amateurs and professionals coming together because this is how people learn,” Sofiya tells me. People get the chance to join each other’s teams, to have a drink, and to exchange. Some participants might want to start a film career and would like to get in touch with people who already work in the sector. The other way around, professionals might look for newcomers joining their projects. However, you might just as well simply want to try something new, dip a toe in new waters, meet new people, and have a fun weekend. By bringing filmmakers of all experience levels together, the Lost Weekend team hopes to make the film industry more accessible for people of different backgrounds.

Kick-off event, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Riccardo Tomasini
Kick-off event, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Riccardo Tomasini

The applications for the Lost Weekend call start one month before the film challenge and happen on a first come, first served basis. “We don't choose [the participants]. Again, it‘s the idea that it's accessible to anybody.” The participating teams then meet for the first time at the kick-off event on Friday evening at the beginning of the 'lost' weekend, where they get to know each other and the Lost Weekend crew. There, the organisers announce a theme, a line of dialogue, and a prop that the teams must address and use while making their short films. The theme of this year’s Halloween edition is, shockingly enough, Halloween, and people have to make use of a mask as a prop and the dialogue line “Is this politically correct?”. The teams choose their language freely.

At 8 p.m. on said Friday evening, the challenge starts. Writers jump behind their desks to write a script, cameramen and -women clean their lenses, and actors and actresses warm up their voices. On a tight schedule, the film is generally written on Friday, shot on Saturday, and edited on Sunday. The deadline is Sunday evening at 8 p.m.

The submitted films are then presented to a jury that chooses the winners of a series of awards. Those range from an award for the best use of the given prop, to an incentive award for newcomers, and up to the main jury award. Beside a coffee pot, as opposed to a mug for the smaller awards, the winners of the bigger awards are granted the means to take their filmmaking to a higher level. In the Lost Weekend Plus programme, as it’s called, people get a budget, be it in the form of cash or postproduction studio packages, and will be assisted by a professional producer, who will also act as their mentor. The resulting films will be shown at the following screening event.

BTS, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Jérôme Mergen
BTS, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Jérôme Mergen

Feedback from participants, spectators, and partners is very good, according to Sofiya. “I think people love it,” she says. Quite a few people even continued to make films after the challenge, and “Lost Weekend certainly helped them because it gave them practice.” After all, people can add their productions to their portfolio and take their first steps in building a network in the Luxembourgish film sector.

The reputation of Lost Weekend already reaches far beyond the national borders at this point. This year, a group from Lithuania decided to come to Luxembourg and stay for the weekend at their own expense solely to participate in the challenge. Moreover, a Luxembourgish high school answered the Lost Weekend call and fielded a team of young filmmakers of their own. They even readapted the challenge back at their school.

The Monkeybunch, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Jérôme Mergen
The Monkeybunch, Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023, © Jérôme Mergen

The screening of the 2023 Lost Weekend Halloween Edition will take place on October 31st at the Cinémathèque and will feature all the short films that had been produced two weeks earlier, as well as the recently produced short films from the Lost Weekend Plus programme. The event is open to the public, and people will have the chance to vote for their favourite film, which is going to be granted the audience award. The second part of the evening is hosted by Cinelunatique, another initiative by Filmreakter that is dedicated to midnight movies, who will show the horror film Deadstream in the aftermath.

All of those who are eager to dive headfirst into filmmaking, or those who already have tasted blood, will find the next opportunity at the coming edition of Lost Weekend in March 2024.

The 2023 Lost Weekend Halloween Edition screening starts at 6:30 p.m. There is no entry fee.

Deadstream will be shown at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the entry and on luxembourgticket.

Lost Weekend Halloween Edition, 2023