"Internet caused almost a hysteria in the field of self-promotion"
by Vladan Petkovic
- Damir Cucic's first feature film A Letter to My Father proved to be a dark horse at Croatia's national Pula Film Festival. The director talks about his experimental approach.
Cineuropa: Before this film, you made numerous short experimental and documentary films, and A Letter to My Father [+see also:
interview: Damir Cucic
film profile] is experimental in its own way.
Damir Cucic: My film affinities developed in the 1990's and I was fortunate enough to collaborate with many experimental film-makers. During that time, in my opinion, experiment films were the only Croatian output which was referential on a world-wide scale. Other film forms in Croatia at the time were mediocre or worse. Ivan Ladislav Galeta, Tom Gotovac, Boris Poljak, Milan Bukovac, Zdravko Mustać and others managed to infect me permanently with experiment, so to this day I continued exploring border areas of film expression. A Letter to My Father flirts with fiction, documentary and experimental, and I like to play with film that way.
We modified and added stuff to the story during the shooting, and then changed it completely in editing. For something like this, you must have the understanding of your colleagues, and I worked with exceptional actors and a very experienced crew. Our play seems to have been fruitful, but I'm aware that experimenting can often fail. It's exactly in this uncertainty of experiment that I found a deep passion for film art.
The subject matter comes out of personal experience of Milivoj Beader. What were you most interested in, the family aspect (father-son relationship) or the social aspect (patriarchal society)?
Considering it's Milivoj's personal story, I was interested in all of it, and I studied it from all angles. We built the character of the Father according to his experience, and this worked as the audiences clearly like the tyrant father a lot.
Personally, I was most interested in their undeclared love, which they are not able even to utter, let alone display in some way. A love that is subconsciously infused with a kind of Slavic pain of stony hills. "When I love, I want it to hurt," that would be the most precise area of my interests in this film.
The development of new technologies played a strong role in the creation of this film. Nowadays we are much more used to video diaries and similar forms that internet is flooded with. Do you think it's an advantage for your film, and do you intend to keep experimenting in this direction?
Everything is much easier with digital technology, and the wide use of it does not always bring successful artistic results. People film themselves more and more, and internet caused almost a hysteria in the field of self-promotion. Watching this exhaltation with the media gave me the idea to make a video diary trilogy. Besides A Letter to My Father, I have filmed (and I am currently editing) two more films with diary structure.
The first one is Mitch, a diary of a schizophrenic, which follows a friend of mine through his three-year stay in a psychiatric hospital, and it is a hybrid of documentary and animation. The third part of the trilogy is Brandy Diaries, a film in which I illustrate an already recorded sound background with experimental videos.
A Letter to My Father is one of the independent Croatian films, which is why it didn't play at Arena. What do you see as a good channel for its distribution?
I believe cinema is a natural habitat for my film. We will try with Croatian exhibition network and, hopefully, the regional one. It is an art film, but with universal subject matter and Mediterranean humour. It is completely opposite to big-time blockbusters, so we’ll try to attract audiences who want something different. After the theatrical distribution, there are no obstacles for TV, VoD or internet . The worst thing would be for the film not to be seen at all.