Goran Rusinovic • Director
Croatian director Goran Rusinovic came into the spotlight last year when his film Buick Riviera, produced by Zagreb-based Propeler Film, won Best Film and the FIPRESCI award at the Sarajevo Film Festival; as well as Best Actor, which was shared by the film’s leads Leon Lucev and Slavko Stimac. Based on the novel by Miljenko Jergovic, it tells the story of a Muslim and a Serb from Bosnia who accidentally meet on a deserted highway in the US and spend the next 24 hours accusing each other’s nation for the war in their country.
Cineuropa: Why did you decide to make a film with this kind of subject when most of the former Yugoslav directors try to avoid themes of war and its consequences?
Goran Rusinovic: I moved to the US six years ago. During that time I read the novel and was really interested in the two main characters, feeling the same loneliness and difficulty in adapting to a new life in a different country. Walking the streets of New York, hearing people speaking the language of my homeland interested me but made me suspicious as well, wondering who they were and what their war history was. Are they still angry? Have they been able to let go and not blame anyone, just trying to make a new life abroad?
Nostalgia is something that all emigrants have to deal with. The life of a man in exile requires unbelievable strength and survival instincts in adapting. This film is about such a man, the loneliness he faces in the process of adjusting and the question if such a process can erase the past and create a new feeling of security.
You decided to shoot in the US (Fargo, North Dakota). Why and how was it?
I strongly felt that the visual set-up for the story had to be a snow-covered, desolate America. A white landscape has a strong visual impact of coldness of the new world and functions as a stage for this realistic and simple story. White is a base for the perfect control of colors within the film frame. Shooting was a beautiful experience, with a minimal budget of $380,000.
We shot for 21 days in the extreme cold with a small crew made up of experienced professionals and film school students. There was a special energy in the crew as it included people from all over the world. When we came back for more shooting a year later, because some material was ruined when the negative was exposed at the airport, it brought an even better creative energy, as if reuniting with old friends.
Why do Croatian films have such poor attendance in Croatia when, on the other hand, all those films score amazing ratings on TV?
Local films in the former Yugoslavia share almost the same fate. We are out of theaters, cinematheques, screenings in independent cinemas are of a very poor quality. Audiences go to multiplexes where there is no room for local films. Cinemas need to be renovated and reopened so that there would be space for independent film. That is the only way to bring the audiences back. How is it possible that a film such as [Carlos Reygadas’] Silent Light [+see also:
film profile] didn’t have theatrical distribution in Croatia? Are you preparing a new film?
I have started pre-production on Freelander, an adaptation of Jergovic’s second part of the trilogy about cars and people. I’m planning an audition in Zagreb in the autumn for the main and supporting actors, and I am looking forward to meeting professor Karl Adum, a pensioner from Zagreb who gets in his orange Volvo and travels to Sarajevo, his hometown. It’s his return to childhood at the end of WWII.
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