Miro Remo • Director of At Full Throttle
“I respect reality, but I like to delve further into the possibilities of cinema”
- The Slovak documentarian discusses his latest feature-length effort, pushing the boundaries of documentary cinema and playing with styles
Award-winning Slovak documentarian Miro Remo premiered his latest work, At Full Throttle [+see also:
interview: Miro Remo
film profile], in the main competition of Karlovy Vary. In it, Remo follows a middle-aged Czech autocross enthusiast dealing with the fallout from family problems. At Full Throttle marks a departure from the filmmaker’s usual type of observatory documentary.
Cineuropa: At Full Throttle, similarly to Martin Dušek's Into the Clouds We Gaze, tells the story of a frustrated generation. But unlike Into the Clouds We Gaze, which follows a protagonist from the younger generation of so-called millennials, you focus on the older generation. Why did you make this decision, and how did you manage to find the protagonists?
Miro Remo: I didn’t pick them primarily based on their generation; that's not important for me. My choice was driven by strength of character and how suitable they would be for portrayal in a contemporary documentary film. I discovered the protagonists relatively quickly, a few weeks after having the idea of making a film in a car-racing milieu. As a child, I played the game Destruction Derby, so we first looked for traces of similar derbies in Slovakia, but we found that they were missing what we were after – life at full throttle. We ended up finding this in an autocross enthusiast, Jaroslav, in Moravia, who met our expectations right from the first meeting. His life was one big drama.
Given that neither of the protagonists, Jaroslav and Jitka, had had an easy life, why did they agree to be in the film?
The story developed organically as time went on. Jaroslav was in a difficult situation in his life after a really unpleasant divorce, and he was immersed in a conflict with practically his whole former family. His motivation was to try to show the world that he does not yet belong on the scrap heap. He still wanted to fight for his place on Earth. From the beginning, we clearly defined our intentions: we were looking for people living life at full throttle, characters able to put everything they have into the race. Jaroslav said that this was his life exactly. Jitka started cooperating because she loves Jaroslav, and she knew the shoot was important for him.
Jaroslav has a clear opinion on capitalism: his frustration and disillusionment are obvious. Nevertheless, the film avoids broaching the question of politics. Why did you decide to steer clear of it?
If you read discussions of the film in the media, you will find that this political subtext plays an important role. It is a powerful weapon that must be handled with care. In my film, we work with political questions subliminally. Ultimately, the movie will say more about the subject this way, compared to how it would be if it focused explicitly on political questions. The film’s topic will worm its way into your head, and you have to deal with it on your own.
At Full Throttle reflects the generation of 1989, which experienced both regimes, communism and capitalism, and did not fully come to terms with the latter. However, this theme is less explicit when we compare it to Jaroslav's family problems. Why did you decide to keep the socio-economic or sociopolitical dimension in the background?
I consider family to be the most important source of things – in this case, of the biggest problems. It is the foundation on which you stand for your whole life. Where and to whom you are born determine your whole situation in life, which means you can already be lagging behind from the start. That means that even with all of your strength, you simply won’t be able to reach the top. Life is not always fair. In light of this, economic problems are less significant than family problems.
Compared to your previous films, which were defined by an observational method, At Full Throttle contains more stylisation. Why this change?
I'm tired of the observational method. Cinema offers more than a simple depiction of reality with a camera behind the characters' shoulders. I respect reality, but I like to delve further into the possibilities of cinema. I like different genres. In fact, I am gradually returning to my roots, getting closer to my first film, Arsy-Versy. In my previous films, I worked with themes that couldn’t be tackled any differently. I also wanted to work in a different style, but you need both parties – protagonists and filmmakers – to enable such solutions.
My film about Richard Müller [This Is Not Me [+see also:
interview: Miro Remo
film profile]] did not have to look like it was probing his broken soul. We had a plan that the original Müller died in a plane that crashed into twins, and his doppelgänger is the one currently performing on the stage... This will be even more evident in my next film. Nevertheless, At Full Throttle is a documentary movie in which I worked on the formalism more meticulously, so many people today think that it is actually a fiction film. That's not true, but I'm glad; I've always liked to play.
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