Interview with Festival Director Jonáš Vacek (The WE Festival)

The WE Festival
April 24th — May 1st 2016
The aim of The WE Festival is to stimulate local culture by connecting all groups present in the city, and use that collective empowerment to achieve together what would be impossible on our own. This can be hosting a workshop promoting sustainability, presenting at one of our Pecha Kuchas, performing at one of our music events or parties or organising something outside of the box. We’ve now had 6 years of experience and each year only gets bigger and better!
Interview with Jonáš Vacek

1) What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

We are giving a voice to the unheard. Since we have blocks that aren’t seen at many other film festivals, focussed on diversity with multicultural and lgbtq community content. We even have blocks that are focussed on coexistance and sustainability. We love new talent and different forms of audiovisual expressions which is why we welcome new talent and experimental films.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

The finest selection of films from all over the world. World-renowned artists but also new talent. There are Q&A’s happening after different films to get even more closer into the experience you just had. We have an event called One Night stand, where you make and finish a whole short film in the same time it would take you to have a one night stand. The participants films are screened during the festival and can win awards for their accomplishments. We have lectures from teachers, filmmakers from the field. We have awards given by our jury as well as our audience has a voice to award films with prizes. The WE Film festival is part of the WE Festival so there is music, amazing food and other artistic expressions.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We focus in on films that were made in the last 48 months. And the films have to be in english one way or another.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Jonas: Yes, it is a bit sad to cinsider how many films we had to reject only becasue we only have so much time to project. A lot of good talent is rejected this way, pretty uch against our will, but there’s only so much we can do…

Aiman: I agree with this. The difficult thing is that every festival has an identity. And as Festival Director you have to honor that identity which means that some movies, however great they are don’t match with the identity of certain film festivals and that is why they aren’t chosen. I wish there would be clearer communication towards why each film is not selected, but with thousands and thousands of submissions it’s humanly impossible to explain that to every filmmaker.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Jonas: I love the ambience and vibes of a film festival, binge-watching films that you would never have the chance to see otherwise, and the discussions that come afterwards. I’ve always admired the work of the organisers and I feel that my current city really deserves a thematically wide festival.

Aiman: From when I can remember I have always been fascinated by film. It was also a thing I did with my dad growing up, watching films that challenged our life views and have discussions about them. Also as a filmmaker it’s challenging to get your work be viewed. I know so many talented filmmakers and felt we could add something awesome to this beautiful city!

6) How has the festival changed since its inception?

The WE Festival itself has never included a film festival up until this year. Since 2010, WE have transformed ourselves from a three day festival with a few workshops and some DJ performances into full-blown, city-wide 8-day cultural feast with Art Exhibitions, Pecha Kuchas, Workshops ranging from cooking, pole dancing, DJing, ceramics, street photography; as well as an insanely varied list of musical performances throughout the week, or the addition of the film festival in this year’s edition.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2020?

At the current rate, probably a two week long festival taking over pretty much most of the city… More screening blocks, more venues, and more Q&As!

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Jonas: Probably Pelíšky (Cozy Dens, 1999), a film about a few neighbouring families during the Communist regime, and how they interact within and between each other. It’s a got-it-all film with great drama, love, humor, dilemma, pretty shots and conflict. I haven’t been born until more than a decade after the fall of the regime, but I feel it is one of the best portrayals of the complicated stories due to the country’s politics of those times.

Aiman: The Matrix, even though not the Best film ever made. Was for me growing up the film that made the most impact for the time it came out. Even when I watch it now, I still feel the magic that I felt when I watched it as a 12 year old teen.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Jonas: I don’t think there’s a single recipe to make a “great” film, but for me it is the way the creators handle balancing aesthetics against a story that should truly mak your consider what are the reasons why characters behave the way they do, and how well-thought out these “forces” are.

Aiman: For me it’s very clear what makes a great film. Every film is made out of ingredients necessary to make it great. You can see pretty clearly when they lack or when every ingredient simmers beautifully together.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Jonas: Maastricht is a small city with around 100k inhabitants, but considering its small size, there is a very large group of people who truly want to push what we would consider as “worthwhile” cinema, demonstrated by the many initiatives from the international students as well as the proud locals, with a nie selection of art-house cinemas, other film festivals and organisations helping people create their projects

Aiman: I am from Utrecht myself. The National film festival is held there every year as well as many other festivals. I am pretty happy with the scene. I just wish that there would be more visitors of film in our city. Everybody turns up for the big ones, but the smaller important ones don’t get viewed by as many people as I would like to. Also film funding in Utrecht could be structured in a clearer way.




Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


2 thoughts on “Interview with Festival Director Jonáš Vacek (The WE Festival)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s