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Martin Šulík • Director of The Man with Hare Ears

“I think that the life of every auteur director is reflected in his films, whether directly or not”


- In his latest movie, the Slovak filmmaker takes a closer look at the titular man with hare ears, urging the audience not to be afraid of laughing

Martin Šulík  • Director of The Man with Hare Ears

Some say it’s not easy being green, but growing a pair of massive ears following an unfortunate accident is not that great either, imagines writer Josef (Miroslav Krobot). Then again, trouble follows him around in real life as well: his friend tries to commit suicide, his much younger girlfriend (Alexandra Borbély) is pregnant, and his grown-up kids don’t even hide their resentment. Martin Šulík tells us more about The Man with Hare Ears [+see also:
interview: Martin Šulík
film profile
, now screening at this year’s Art Film Fest.

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Cineuropa: Five out of four Slovak writers recommend this film,” it’s announced at the beginning. How did you want to show this struggle, the feeling that everything one had to say was already said?
Martin Šulík:
This first statement is slightly ironic. It should communicate to the audience right away that they cannot be afraid of laughing. For me, personally, this film is pure comedy. It’s probably impossible to capture the origin of a work of art, be it the work of a writer or some other artist. But we didn’t really care about that. At one point, our protagonist, Josef, who is indeed a writer, begins to realise the discrepancy between his idea of himself and how others see him. Together with my screenwriter, Marek Leščák, we wanted the story he was working on to reflect this sudden sensation.

It’s a peculiar experience to become a father again so late in life. But this entire story is about learning to embrace older age, no matter what comes your way – is that right?
Yes. It’s also a reflection on the mistakes of the past and whether they can be rectified, at least a little. Or whether one can finally transcend one’s own ego and restore authentic relationships with one’s loved ones: wives, children and friends.

This whole image of Miroslav Krobot with hare ears is frankly hilarious, especially given how straight he plays it. Do you like this kind of poker-face comedy?
Mirek Krobot is an outstanding actor. He decided to defend his character in the film – he was looking for every single moment that would allow him to humanise Josef a little bit, to make him more acceptable to others and also to himself. And he did so with a minimum of resources, economical gestures, subtle facial expressions and silence in between dialogues. Sometimes, I wish I could make a movie with Jean Gabin, too. I would love to see something like that.

Why did you decide to include other characters’ confessions? They talk about Josef, and it feels almost like “talking heads” from documentaries. Not to mention that this accusation that someone “can only write about himself”, the way he does, is very common.
By doing so, we were able to switch the point of view of the main character and create more tension for other scenes. And we were able to play a trick on the viewers by pulling them out of the illusion of storytelling, reminding them that, ultimately, a film is also a game. I think that the life of every auteur director is reflected in his films, whether directly or not. But it’s also about learning to step over your own experience and adding another dimension to whatever you are working on. The material “stolen” from the author’s life can make the story unique, it can make it special, but at the same time, being too introverted is just plain annoying. I believe that artists should be more concerned with other people, not just with themselves. And if all the people suffering can’t make a movie right away, well, they can always go and see a doctor instead.

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