A pill for lethargy
by Vladan Petkovic
- A committed journalist and documentary filmmaker, the director of the Motuvun Film Festival joins forces with Night Boats to make his first feature film, an original success.
Igor Mirkovic has made his first feature film Night Boats [+see also:
interview: Igor Mirković
film profile] at the age of 46. A journalist by profession, he has made several acclaimed documentaries, all of them socially or politically engaged, and is the director of Motovun Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Why did you choose two elderly people as protagonists of your film, just like in your previous, the short Bill Collector?
Igor Mirković:The basic idea comes from the co-writer Elvis Bošnjak: “Two people meet in a nursing home, fall in love and run away.” When he said that, I saw before my eyes one of the scenes that made me fall in love with film- when in Miracle in Milan the poor people jump on brooms and fly away from their misery into the sky. Besides, I’ve had a bit enough of the tyranny of youth in film. There are hundreds of films in which teenagers run away from home, I wanted to make one in which their grandparents get away over a balcony because they want an adventure. Maybe it’s also connected to the fact that I wrote the first few drafts of he script while my father was dying, maybe with this story I wanted to give him a chance to get away from the hospital. However, all this is me looking in retrospect: I wasn’t choosing the subject matter rationally at all, my instinct told me it was a story for me.
What was the making of your first feature fiction film like for you?
I did many different jobs in my life, and I learned to rely on top professionals as my associates and get something good out of them. So in that sense I didn’t feel like a debutant. But there’s still working with actors, which is specific for film. It’s both the hardest and the most beautiful thing. Actors are subtle, duplicitous, sensitive and enchanting, all at the same time, and you never know if they’re going to open their arms to you or slap you in the face. When it comes to working with actors, I’ll probably feel like a debutant forever.
How did you choose the two main actors?
From the start it was clear that the casting was absolutely crucial – if we had the right actors, we would have a film; if we miscast it, nothing could save it. That’s why I spent two years looking for actors. On one hand, I wanted them to look convincingly weak and fragile, like actual people in a nursing home. But it was equally important that they had vitality and passion. Additionally, I wanted them to have not worked much together previously, as I wanted fresh acting solutions. Finally I narrowed it down to Radko Polič from Slovenia and Ana Karić from Croatia. They are stars in their own countries but, paradoxically, haven’t had bigger film roles in decades. So they were motivated and cared for the project, which is a fantastic privilege to have.
A road movie featuring two elderly people is a very unusual form. How did you get there?
I think Picasso said that everyone is as old as they decide to be. He considered he was 37 until his death. I wanted my heroes to stop feeling burdened by their age and simply ignore it. So what would they do if they decided they were 37? They’d probably get into a car and go some place nice. Everything else followed from there.
Did you think about the audience when you were making the film? How does it fit in Croatian cinema and among films in theatrical distribution and on TV?
The audience was the only thing I was thinking about. This is a sad time for the environment that I live in. The social elite consists of clerks and economists, people without imagination or ideals. There is a general lethargy, no one wants to do anything nor believes in anything. I thought my fellow citizens needed a pill, a film with clear, simple, elementary emotions. After everything has been contaminated around them, I wanted to offer them a simple love story.
But I can’t predict how the film will do at the box office because in my country adults almost don’t go to the movies at all. The theatres are ruled by formulaic Hollywood films and the audience consists almost solely of teenagers. My film will seem like an alien there. That may be a drawback, but we hope it might after all be its advantage.