Alica Bednáriková • Director of Liquid Bread
“In general, I strongly believe that films should always surprise you”
- Cineuropa talks to the Slovak director as she prepares for her film to screen as part of EFP's Future Frames
Born in Slovakia, Alica Bednáriková studied film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. Her latest film Liquid Bread screened as part of Le Cinef at the 2022 edition of Cannes and will now be part of European Film Promotion’s Future Frames at the 56th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1-9 July).
The film focuses on three generations of a Slovakian family who come together with the requisite amount of alcohol. Under the acerbic eye of granddaughter Zoja, drinks will be drunk, secrets will be revealed and minor tragedies will occur. Full of dry humour and subtle absurdity, Bednáriková’s film is a reflection on the complexity of family life, identity and filmmaking itself.
Cineuropa: Liquid Bread seems to be an extremely personal film. Where did the idea come from?
Alica Bednáriková: I’ve had this idea since my first year of film school, although the need to tell a story of this nature comes from somewhere long ago. I started writing bits and bits over the years but could never put together a story, until it was the right time. And to an extent, there is a personal aspect to every story I write and every film I make, but there is always going to be a lot of fiction involved as well. With this film in particular, I wanted it to work like a memory. Some of the events may have happened, and others are purely fictional, exaggerated for the purpose of being cinematic.
There’s a lot of serious things going on here – explorations of fractured families, alcoholism, masculinity, political turmoil. But there’s a strain of comedy throughout the film as well. How did you go about keeping the balance?
I think it was mainly intuitive. I try to always listen to what feels right, what feels like it belongs in the film. It certainly was a big risk, and a lot of things that worked on paper didn’t work on the screen, so there were a lot of changes in post-production as well. The combination of tragedy and comedy is something I find precious – both in films and in life – and I was just motivated to explore it.
It’s interesting that it’s a very sunny and bright film. Many films would favour a darker, more grey-hued feeling, but you go the other way and it works really well.
Me and Roman Šupej, the cinematographer, talked a lot about these intentions. How can we make the style a bit different from what is expected or advised, how can we find a cinematic language within that space. For example, we talked a lot about the aspect ratio – given the flat land in the area where we shot, it would be expected that we go very wide with the shots. Instead, we did a more narrow aspect ratio 1:66:1, just to challenge ourselves and really consciously go against these expectations.
Who would you count amongst your filmmaking influences?
Before the filming of Liquid Bread, I was really inspired a lot by coming of age films, and it’s essentially what I wrote my thesis about. I rewatched The 400 Blows by Truffaut many, many times, as well as Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig. In general, I strongly believe that films should always surprise you. That doesn’t necessarily mean a crime-driven story or a huge plot twist – just in their style, in the way they tell a story, in the way they twist your mind when you’re watching them.
The film premiered at La Cinef in Cannes. What were your experiences like there?
Incredibly mind-blowing. The possibility to watch my own film in a screening room in Cannes, surrounded by my crew members, and afterwards being approached by so many lovely people who wanted to share their opinion on the film – it was a huge privilege and I will always cherish that memory.
And now you’re headed to Future Frames and Karlovy Vary…
I have never been to the festival before, so I am looking forward to the whole experience. I am hoping it will feel a bit more home-y than Cannes, just because it’s so close to Slovakia and the industries are so intertwined. I am looking forward to meeting all the other directors, and talk with them, get inspired, but also to being with my crew once again, and be able to share that moment together.
What are you working on next?
I am in the process of gathering inspiration, starting to write more, and hoping to produce a short film outside of school soon. I am very interested in coming-of-age themes, nostalgia, female-friendship dynamics, but also playing with narrative and style. I am hopeful that in the near future, it will all come together as a feature-film script.
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