Grand Coffee with Charlie Kaufman: People Need to Write the Truth

The guest of the Grand Coffee with... programme on August 15th was Oscar® winner Charlie Kaufman, an American screenwriter, director, producer, and recipient of the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo at the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival.

At the beginning of the conversation, Kaufman talked about the ongoing strike of screenwriters and actors in Hollywood.

"Screenwriters are not paid enough, to the extent that they are not qualified for health insurance. Their demand is 0.26% of the studio's earnings, that's all they're asking for, the bare minimum. Studios earn fortunes at the expense of underpaid screenwriters and producers. I think that's unacceptable due to the way it affects the human race – we can't allow computers to write scripts and create art. I wasn't sure if I would make it to Sarajevo because of the strike, however, since I don't have any premieres at this year's festival, my studio didn't consider my coming here an issue", Kaufman said.

He called ADAPTATION. - a Spike Jonze film for which he wrote the screenplay that earned him the Writers Guild of America award and an Oscar®, and which the audience of the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival had the opportunity to watch at the Coca-Cola Open Air Cinema as part of the Open Air programme - an autobiographical film.

"I even named the main character after myself. When this film was made, Sony Pictures asked for the rights to my name, so that a character with my name wouldn't appear in some future film. I had to resist that, it wasn't acceptable," Kaufman said.

When asked about the structure and form of his screenplays, he stated: "I'm not interested in established structures. The structure of a film should depend on the story that needs to be told – the story shapes the structure of the screenplay. The idea of a single fixed form that should be applied to all stories is, in my opinion, unacceptable."

In the end, he had advice for screenwriters: "People need to write the truth. I can't tell you how you, as yourself, can write a screenplay, because I exclusively write screenplays as myself, but I think honesty is crucial. If you provide the truth, you're doing something good for the world, and if you don't, you're doing something bad. People have opinions, we don't all have to be right, and being honest doesn’t constitute objective truth, but it is something invaluable in its contribution to the world."

Charlie Kaufman was awarded the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo for his in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the art of film tonighton August 14th at the Coca-Cola Open Air Cinema.

Jury of the Competition Programme – Feature Film of the 30th Sarajevo Film Festival
Maja Izetbegović hosts the opening ceremony of the 30th Sarajevo Film Festival
World Premiere of Danis Tanović’s “My Late Summer” to Open the 30th Sarajevo Film Festival
Accreditations for the 30th Sarajevo Film Festival
8 TV series from the previous season have been nominated for the Heart of Sarajevo awards for TV series as chosen by industry professionals