Olmo Omerzu • Director
"I don’t have anything against genre film; every type of production interests me"
by Martin Kudláč
- Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu is back on the festival circuit with his sophomore feature, Family Film, which is bound to win a plethora of awards, just like his debut, A Night Too Young
Born in Ljubljana, Olmo Omerzu was once on the editorial board of Slovenian comic magazine Stripburger and in 2004 started at Prague’s FAMU. He directed several shorts before starting to collect awards for his 40-minute film The Second Act. The award-festooned A Night Too Young [+see also:
interview: Jiří Konečný
film profile], which was picked for the Berlinale Forum in 2012, is his graduation film and fiction feature debut. Now he is competing at Luxembourg's CinEast with his latest and eagerly anticipated outing, Family Film [+see also:
interview: Olmo Omerzu
Cineuropa: What have your influences been as a director?
Olmo Omerzu: I have always been a regular cinema customer, so that list would be a long one. Some films and directors that used to mean a lot to me have, over the years, ceased to interest me.
How did your experiences on A Night Too Young enrich you as a filmmaker?
During A Night Too Young, I encountered the dramaturgy of a feature for the first time. I was mainly occupied with the question of how to develop a story based on the unity of time and space without a main protagonist. Through a small group of people, among whom there are intricate and unusual relationships, I intended to create a group portrait of a certain society that is, in the case of romantic relationships, driven by power play. The storytelling in Family Film is rather fragmentary and not at all classical.
What idea provided the driving force behind Family Film?
It was a short article in a newspaper about a dog that had fallen out of a boat during a storm and lived for several weeks on an abandoned island without his master. I was enraptured by the idea of a canine Robinson Crusoe that could act as a bridging mechanism in the story. From a family tragedy, we are then transported to an island where we observe the lost pet’s struggle for survival. The dog becomes a symbol of the family, catalysing their problems, and is maybe the only link capable of bringing them together.
How did the preparation of the script go? What was it like writing in tandem with Nebojša Pop-Tasić?
First, I sent the treatment I wrote to Nebojša. I knew his theatrical works – his language and poetics are atypical in the context of Slovenia, and the stage plays and poetry he writes speak to me. That’s why we struck a common chord so quickly.
Family Film is made in co-production with five countries. What impact did this have?
An international film crew assisted during the shoot, which I found positive. The fact that so many countries were engaged in the project did not have any impact on the script itself or on the film as I had imagined it from the beginning.
Why did you choose the absence of parental authority as an experience that shapes the teenagers?
Due to the parents’ departure, two worlds are depicted in the film: that of the teenagers and that of the adults. In the world of the teenagers, I focus on the siblings’ process of coming to terms with their newfound freedom, which, after the initial period of euphoria, becomes a bigger responsibility and a burden. The brother and sister really constitute the remnants of the family. I am interested in the way the family is re-formed after the parents are gone, rather than in the characters’ fates. I use mechanisms that create new relationships between the siblings, the uncle and the friend. In the second part of the movie, both worlds rejoice when they encounter a new situation.
Your next project is apparently Kavky na cestě (“Jackdaws on the Road”), a cross between a road and an adventure movie. What is your attitude to genre cinema?
I don’t have anything against genre film; every type of production interests me. My choice of form and style for storytelling is always defined by the theme I work with. The stories themselves always stem from reality. Kavky na cestě, written by Petr Pýcha, is not a typical coming-of-age road movie; I personally call it a film about storytelling. Through the very form of storytelling, it thematises the passage from childhood to adulthood and offers an unexpected denouement. Usually in films like this, we expect a kid to be ushered into the world of adults through various situations. In this story, it is kind of the other way round.
When will you start work on the project?
The project is currently at the funding stage; principal photography is scheduled for summer 2016.
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