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Interview: Vlado Škafar • Director

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“It's not about doing; it's about being”

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- Slovenian director Vlado Škafar spoke to Cineuropa about his new movie, Mother, his view on the art of film and his unorthodox creative process

Interview: Vlado Škafar  • Director
(© Mavricij Pivk/Delo)

Slovenian director Vlado Škafar spoke to Cineuropa about his new film, Mother [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Vlado Škafar
film profile
]
, his view on the art of film and his unorthodox creative process. 

Cineuropa: Mother gives the impression of being at least a partly improvised film. There is no screenplay per se, but you draw from the writings of poets, artists and your co-workers. What was the starting point?
Vlado Škafar:
It's true that I don't use a screenplay during shooting, and I don't give exact instructions to the cast, but my method could not be further from improvisation. I can't stand improvisation, actually. It's not about doing; it's about being. My job is to know the people I work with intimately, deeply; usually I spend a year or two getting to know them, and I try to put them on a pathway to becoming poetic beings, as much as they can be. So they are starting to create their different selves from within and activating them. This way they can keep being mysterious to me, and if I'm interested in them, the audience will be, too. 

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During the shoot, I try to create a certain atmosphere and bring out a certain part of certain cast members that could work in a certain scene. It's something that gets born, without trying, without aiming to do so, a pure birth – a miracle. The starting point was exactly as you see in the first scene of the film: mother and daughter travelling, each in their own world. Sitting next to each other in an almost abstract space, but with endless distance between them. It's rare that a scene you create matches what you imagined that well.

Your earlier film Dad [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Vlado Škafar
interview: Vlado Škafar
film profile
]
was about a father and son. Why are you interested in these primal relationships in your films?
My deepest interest is in what we all experience every day. Extraordinary events have no deep appeal to me. They come and go, and the ordinary stays with you. Most people take it for granted, so they can't see the extraordinary and the never-ending aspect of it. In reality, every single thing that you take your time with and feel an interest in becomes extraordinary.Rodin urged Rainer Maria Rilke to go to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and pick one of the animals in the zoo there and study it in all its movements and moods until he knew it as thoroughly as a creature or thing could be known, and then write about it. The result was The Panther, one of Rilke’s early masterpieces. This is how I try to approach people and everything else in my films, and I am lucky that [my regular DoP] Marko Brdar sees this the same way. If parents and children (or lovers, friends, etc) did the same, the result of their relationships would be better.

In Mother, you also tackle the theme of addiction.
Addictions are becoming a bigger and bigger part of human lives. It's not even so much about the drugs or alcohol anymore, it's everywhere: eating disorders, sex, gambling, partying and, most of all, virtual realities (internet, TV, gaming, tourism, etc). But here, the theme is not so much the addiction; it's more about the alienation it causes. Alienation is all over human society like a cancer, and it is getting deeper and deeper. By giving ourselves these parallel lives, we are giving our lives away. It seems like it almost takes a miracle for a human being to get his life back. 

You said this was your last film, and you wanted to fully dedicate yourself to writing.
At the moment I don't see much sense in cinema. The art-cinema industry is far from that piece of advice provided by Rodin. For the moment I'll take it and apply it to my literature.

photogallery

international title: Mother
original title: Mama
country: Slovenia, Italy
year: 2016
directed by: Vlado Škafar
screenplay: Vlado Škafar
cast: Nataša Tič Ralijan, Vida Rucli, Gabriella Ferrari, Pierluigi Di Piazza

main awards/selection

International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016 
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