Maja Medić • Director of I Want You to Know
"I've never been more sure about anything in my life as I am about making this film"
- In her project, winner of the Cineuropa Marketing Award at Trieste's When East Meets West, the director will dig into her personal experience of post-war trauma in Serbia
Serbian cinematographer and director Maja Medić's feature-length documentary project I Want You to Know is taking part in CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator development programme, and has won the Cineuropa Marketing Award at When East Meets West in Trieste.
The film is described as a story of love and loss, of vulnerability and the denial of war, an intimate journey questioning the consequences of living life with too many secrets, from personal to collective ones, in the context of post-war trauma in Serbia today.
Cineuropa: What is your film about?
Maja Medić: It combines two storylines. The first one is my personal experience - a love story which was practically made impossible by the PTSD of the man I loved. In the 1990s, he was transferred from his regular military service and sent to war in Bosnia. The second storyline consists of the experiences of numerous war veterans from the Balkan wars who share the feelings on how it is to be in a war, how it changes a person, and how Serbia still doesn't recognise their existence.
In Serbia, people live in a culture of silence, both in their families and in society as a whole. We have issues with taking responsibility and confronting our past, and that keeps us in a constant state of trauma. This is why I decided to use this very personal story to tell a larger one, which affects all of us - and it applies to everywhere, not just Serbia.
Not talking about trauma keeps us trapped in it, makes us relive it over and over again, and generates more and more discomfort, frustration and rage. When war trauma is not recognised and dealt with, veterans are forever affected by it, many of them commit suicide, almost all of them are still struggling in life, but they are not the only ones who suffer the consequences. The families they get back to, the new families they create, the people that they have any kind of relationship with are also affected - meaning, all of us. And it is not just about whether they want to talk about it, it has maybe even more to do with us not wanting to hear what they have to say. Well, I want you to know what they have to say.
What is your directorial approach? How do you intend for the film to look, sound and feel?
I am not making a "talking heads" documentary, I don’t want to use any kind of archive war or news footage. I want this film to have an associative and poetic approach. I want the audience to first feel it and then to make them think about what they have seen and why it made them feel that way. I set a very high bar for myself with this film because of the importance of its topic. I want to find the best possible way to tell this story, and since I am in the early stage of development, I'm still searching for it.
How do you deal with the very personal aspect of the film? It must be difficult to find the right position as the storyteller.
It was difficult in the beginning, I needed time to distance myself from the fact that I am sharing something very personal. It is a huge step out of my comfort zone, not just as a first-time director (even though I have been working in the film industry for 20 years), but because of the fact that I decided to share something deeply personal, which I haven’t even shared with some of my friends. But I have never been more sure about anything in my life as I am about making this film.
Do you have any role models in filmmaking, or favourite documentary films?
I wouldn’t say I have role models, but rather a great appreciation for some documentary films which had a tremendous impact on me when I watched them. Starting from the most recent ones, to name a few: Radiograph of a Family by Firouzeh Khosrovani, The Other Side of Everything by Mila Turajlić, Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words by Stig Björkman, Searching for Sugar Man by Malik Bendjelloul, Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley, The German Secret by Lars Johansson and Blue by Derek Jarman.
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