Maja Vukic • Producer
"Reality can sometimes be a lot more absurd than fiction"
by Fabien Lemercier
- At the Cinemed Meetings, Croatian producer Maja Vukic talked about What a Country!, the new project by Vinko Bresan after The Priest’s Children
2016 has been a booming year for Croatian production company Interfilm, headed up by Ivan Maloca. Discovered in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival, On the Other Side [+see also:
interview: Tihana Lazovic
interview: Zrinko Ogresta
film profile] by Zrinko Ogresta has been chosen as the Croatian candidate for next year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and The Constitution [+see also:
interview: Rajko Grlić
film profile] by Rajko Grlic took home the Grand Prize of the Americas at the Montreal Film Festival. And 2017 promises to be a good year as well, as Vinko Bresan is set to start shooting What a Country!, his latest opus after The Priest’s Children [+see also:
interview: Vinko Bresan
film profile], which was also produced by Interfilm, named Best Comedy at the European Film Awards in 2013, and released in over 30 countries. We caught up with producer Maja Vukic, who presented the project at the Cinemed Meetings of the 38th Mediterranean Film Festival of Montpellier.
Cineuropa: How would you define What a Country!?
Maja Vukic: It’s a black comedy that shows the extent to which reality can sometimes be a lot more absurd than fiction. Vinko Bresan’s aim is to make this film a lot more realistic than his previous work. Up until now, his comedies have been very stylised, and somewhat artificial due to the very nature of comedy. Here, he wanted to build elements of comedy with a realistic visual style and characters that evolve in absurd situations, that remain very serious for example whilst doing the ridiculous. It will also be a political film as, in the words of the director, when you want to make a film about Croatia, we’re all unfortunately defined by our late president, Franjo Tudjman, so we had to find a way of bringing him into the action of the film, and to create a bit of conflict, we also had to have his sworn enemy Slobodan Milosevic. That’s why Mate Matisic developed this story of two groups of people wandering around the town with a coffin.
What is the current state of play of the project?
We’ve just received funding from the Croatian Audiovisual Center, and are currently finalising the budget with our European partners. Lazar Ristovski from Serbian production company Zillion Film, which already worked with Interfilm on The Priest’s Children and On the Other Side, is involved in the project, as is Danijel Hocevar from Slovenian company Vertigo. Ideally, we want to start shooting in autumn 2017. At the moment, we’re looking for a solid partner in France or Germany to handle the special effects, as the story largely revolves around tombs being opened up, with people going in and out of them. We want everything to be as realistic as possible, and for the tomb to really look like that ofFranjo Tudjman from the beautiful cemetery in Zagreb. As we clearly can’t go opening real tombs up, we have to get around this with the director of photography, the head set designer and, of course, special effects, which aren’t all that advanced in Croatia.
Will the film then be released in theatres in Croatia?
In Croatia, distributors don’t get interested in films until they’ve reached the ‘rough cut’ stage, and as we’re a small country, there are only actually two distributors to choose from when it comes to deciding who has the best emotional connection with the film and will put the most effort into releasing it. But the five films in the history of the Croatian box-office include three comedies by Vinko Bresan. His name is a sort of brand. When The Priest’s Children was released in Croatia, it became the most successful Croatian film since 2000, as even people who don’t usually go to the cinema will go to see the latest comedy by Vinko Bresan. I think that What a Country! will be no exception. All the more so considering that the film touches on ghosts, on idealised historical figures who were put on a pedestal. Attacking them will generate a reaction, which is always good as it gets people talking about the film.
Is this ‘smart’ kind of comedy representative of Interfilm’s editorial line?
We love making good smart films. Sometimes they’re comedies, other times they are tragedies. There’s a mix. We’re the oldest Croatian production company, having produced 30 films, and Croatia is too small for us to really specialise and adopt a strict editorial line.
(Translated from French)
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