"A film needs an audience"
by Vladan Petkovic
- We sat down with Antonio Nuić to discuss his latest film, Life Is a Trumpet, which is set to be released imminently in Croatia, just in time for Christmas.
Croatian writer-director Antonio Nuić's family drama-comedy Life Is a Trumpet [+see also:
interview: Antonio Nuić
film profile], set in Zagreb at Christmas time, will be released in the territory on 1 December through Blitz Film & Video. The filmmaker talks to Cineuropa about his new film, how its Christmas setting coincides with the release, and the state of Croatian cinema.
Cineuropa: This is an unusual film for the Balkans. While Donkey [+see also:
film profile] had strong social and political implications, Life Is a Trumpet is completely free of them. How did you arrive at this subject matter in this exact social context?
Antonio Nuić: Talking to people from all walks of life and various age groups, it's easy to see that today the perception and expectations of cinema are much more escapist than they were a couple of decades ago. People are exposed to tons of informative, quasi-informative, quasi-spectacular, quasi-entertaining, terribly dumbed-down content, all of it saying that the present is horrible, the past violent and the future bleak.
But this impression is not the reality. Whatever the social, historical or economic circumstances may be, people simply keep on living. They eat, drink, laugh, dance, get married, celebrate Christmas… This is what Life Is a Trumpet is about. It is all happening in Zagreb, today. So I wanted to show how much joie de vivre there is in the activities that we take for granted and just execute mechanically.
The market orientation of the film is also interesting for the region – a film set at Christmas, released before Christmas. How much do you think about these issues when you're preparing a film?
Christmas was there from the start, ever since the earliest drafts of the script, but at the time I wasn't thinking about it as a distribution opportunity. The idea to release it around Christmas came up during shooting and editing and, of course, when it was finished, during talks with the distributor.
Frankly, it's impossible not to think about the future of the film from the first ideas you put down on paper, because a film needs an audience, it is inherent in its nature, but I am not the kind of person who will calculate the distribution potential of a certain idea and then approach it primarily thinking about admissions or festival exposure. I am trying to be honest and make films that I would personally like to see.
It is not the only film that will be released in Croatia around Christmas; new, audience-orientated films by Snjezana Tribuson and Ivan Goran Vitez are arriving at around the same time. How does the development taking place in the Croatian film industry look to you at the moment? The audiences’ prejudice that local films are too “chamber” or "theatrical" in their approach seems to be gone.
Croatian cinema is on the rise. Success at international festivals and an increase in audiences coming to theatres is proof of that. It is clearly the result of a systematic effort, both by individual filmmakers and through the institutional work of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre. This system encompasses everyone who takes part in Croatian cinema – producers, funders, distributors and educators – so of course there is a positive influence on the quality of production, and the trust of the audiences is slowly getting stronger.
What are your next projects, and how do you see your future as a filmmaker? Would you, for example, go back to the subject matter of Bosnia?
I don't think I'll be returning to what I did before. What I'm preparing right now will again be set in present-day Zagreb, so in that sense it is connected to Life Is a Trumpet. This film will feature many actors and many dogs. Zagreb inspires me, so I think the city I live in will be very present in my future films. And for the distant future, it's not a good idea to plan too much.