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VENICE 2018 International Film Critics’ Week

Ivan Salatić • Director

"I got the feeling that people were slowly disappearing"


- VENICE 2018: Dubrovnik-born, Montenegro-raised director Ivan Salatić answered some questions about his debut feature, You Have the Night, screening in the International Film Critics' Week

Ivan Salatić  • Director
(© Settimana Internazionale della Critica di Venezia)

Dubrovnik-born, Montenegro-raised director Ivan Salatić talked us through his debut feature, the dark and foggy You Have the Night [+see also:
film review
interview: Ivan Salatić
film profile
, which screened in the International Film Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival.

Cineuropa: Although you do follow certain characters in You Have the Night, the film does not really have a plot as such...
Ivan Salatić: The film is not about one single protagonist, but rather a group of people. There is a narrative, but what I was really interested in was this feeling that I got in the beginning, when I started shooting the movie, that people were slowly disappearing and dissolving into nature. It is connected to history in a way, to how it was before... The film is about this transition that we are living through right now. It's a really ambiguous situation, as we don't know what is happening, which is why the film is not driven by a narrative.

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The movie has wide-ranging implications and meanings, but it is also about this particular shipyard and a whole chapter in the history of Montenegro.
This film is very close to me and very emotional because I used to live there – I knew people from the shipyard, and my father used to work there. It is not a political statement or anything like that: it is made up of bits and pieces of real life; it shows the lives of the people from that part of Montenegro specifically – and you can also see, through the archive material, how this life used to be when there was this excitement about building a new society, whereas now, this society is falling apart.

It feels like a major betrayal to these people, who are left to their own devices, fixing and putting together makeshift things from the scraps of the industrial dream.
They are people without work – that situation is not specific to Montenegro. This feeling I was talking about, of things slowly disappearing, has to do with the fact that people don't produce things any more, and that applies everywhere. They are not useful. They are just bodies in this vortex, trying to fix things, but not actually succeeding... And their disappearing feels final, like there is no chance of reincarnation, so to speak. I don't want to sound pompous, but my feeling is that we, humankind, are in this state of transition that is represented in the film.

The prologue, when Sanja is on the ferry with a colleague who is a migrant looking for a new place to live, is like a window on another situation of transition, but also on other possibilities.
Definitely, but the way these two girls are talking also reminds me of similar conversations I have with my friends all the time. We all have this idea that we have to live somewhere else; we all wonder where we are going to live next. I don't think the generations before us thought that way. Now, we kind of have this free space to move around, but wherever we go, life is still complicated. So we move around, alas, never to be satisfied.

The middle generation, as represented in the movie, is particularly at a loss.
The old generation was all about the future, but now that this dream is gone, the next one has to invent something else, which is not easy. Look at how they handle the kid in the movie: everybody tries to do something with this child, but what they are trying to do is not clear. Well, the same thing goes for the future.

The sea is a constant presence throughout the film.
I wanted to start the movie at sea because I wanted it to be a primordial open space, and also because it was important to bring the first character that you see, Sanja, home, thus moving from this open space into this microcosm in Montenegro, and then going deeper into the really intimate parts of these people’s lives.

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