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CANNES 2021 Un Certain Regard

Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova • Directors of Women Do Cry

“This is not a normal film”

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- CANNES 2021: The women in this Un Certain Regard entry have a lot on their minds and have to learn to stop sweeping things under the carpet

Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova  • Directors of Women Do Cry
(© activist38)

In Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s Cannes Un Certain Regard entry Women Do Cry [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
film profile
]
, based on a true story, women have a lot on their mind: be it a life-changing medical pronouncement, childhood trauma or unsatisfying sexual encounters. But in order to survive it all, they have to learn how to support each other and be honest about what they really want.

Cineuropa: In your previous film, Cat in the Wall [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
film profile
]
, you had multiple characters and storylines as well. But now it’s a family that you are focusing on.
Mina Mileva:
We always wanted it to be an ensemble. Not only because it’s based on the true story of Vesela’s family, but also because we thought about how many problems women actually face. So much is being swept under the carpet. If you were to take just one character in order to capture it all, she would seem insane! We were helped immensely by an experienced editor, Yann Dedeyt. Initially, he wasn’t thinking about taking it on, as he was retired, but our material fired him up. He said: “Could I come in, just for one day?” After that, it turned into a love story. We were amazed at how playful he was. At first, he asked if we could at least have a “normal” beginning. We tried that, and then he went: “Ok, this is not a normal film, forget what I said.”

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Vesela Kazakova: That made us very happy, as we never thought of this film as “normal”. It was a challenge to have it be so complex, with so many layers. But even with our actors, we always pushed them to the absolute edge. We wanted them to be crazy, the way you don’t usually act in real life.

Everyone wrote that Maria Bakalova went to extremes in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, but now it feels like she was holding back!
MM:
Our process prepared her for Borat because we do similar things, on a smaller budget: we go “partisan” in some locations, we don’t tell people that we are filming, and we do terrible things! Sometimes, we would just push her into the crowd, without any specific directions, like when we filmed this big ritual in Bulgaria. We experiment like that because it’s necessary – once you see your scripted scene play out and it seems stale, you want to try something else.

VK: You have to find your moment because, just like with that ritual, it’s not like you can repeat a take. We were not supposed to stop and tell them all to do it again. But Maria was just so good. When she acts, she doesn’t think about herself. We told her: “Listen, you are going to Hollywood now. From now on, you have to be more careful.”

Those emotional outbursts in the film are like a domino effect, aren’t they? Whenever one woman breaks down, the other follows. Usually, it’s just what they needed.
VK:
Women’s solidarity is very important – maybe that’s one of the messages of the film. There is this scene between my character and her lover, when I tell her about a very emotional moment and she supports me. She really understands. When we see someone in a bad situation, we should help each other. We don’t do it often enough, unlike men.

MM: With Vesela, we often talk about how men are allowed to act childishly; to fart and burp and to play, and drink their beer. If a woman decides to be childish and stupid, can you imagine what would happen? It would be deemed embarrassing. But these younger women, they are like kids, too, luckily.

This solidarity you mentioned, it doesn’t come easily – it’s a work in progress. Do you think it has to be learned?
MM:
Sometimes, it feels like this emotional side of women, which can be so whimsical, is not being discussed at all. We were visiting our friends once, and they asked us about the title. We said: “Women Do Cry, because women really do cry in Bulgaria.” The guy went: “You know, my wife cried so much when she gave birth – she had postnatal depression – but I thought that maybe it was because she was happy.” Here he was, this wonderful, cheerful guy, and he just didn’t get it.

VK: Emotions are so difficult to portray – they can often just be viewed as pathetic.

So many films, often directed by men, feature explicit scenes of violence against women. Here, the stork is the only one experiencing it on screen; the rest is only implied.
VK:
We heard about the injured stork, and we implemented it into the story, but this was probably the most difficult scene for us to shoot. There was a lot of crying because you have this animal looking at you. It may be shocking, but it was the only way to start this story.

MM: It’s a film about trauma. No animals were hurt, obviously, but we won’t ever make a horror movie, that’s for sure. I know exactly what you are talking about, and we often wonder how men can do it with such ease. There is so much violence in films these days that it almost renders itself pointless.

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