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Marko Igonda

Shooting Star 2008 - Slovakia


Marko Igonda was thrust into the spotlight for his lead role in Facing The Enemy, which he also co-wrote. Yet the Slovakian actor, who divides his career between his home country and the Czech Republic, had already appeared in several films, the most popular of them being Peter Webber's Hannibal Rising [+see also:
film profile

Before heading to the Berlinale, where he will participate in Shooting Stars, replacing the previously announced British actor Andrew Garfield, Igonda is currently shooting Flying Cyprian, a Slovakian/Polish/Hungarian/Czech co-production directed by Marian Čengel-Solčanská.

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Cineuropa: What role do you play in Facing The Enemy and what is the film about?
Marko Igonda: The character Helmut Kampen is an abstraction – I mean, he is not the army. He does not represent WWII. He does not represent the German Army. He is a human being who stands out of the crowd and feels the irresistible urge to express his own opinion: "I will not kill." He was ordered to kill a man, but he says “NO!”, even if he has to die instead. And that´s what the film is about.

Besides acting, the film marked your first time as a screenwriter. How was the experience of adapting Leopold Lahola's novel?
It was a new and incredible experience. The work as an actor is completely different once you write the screenplay yourself. As a team of authors we had to find the script. Leopold Lahola wrote the story, we had to work out the situations. In this way, I had every situation, every shot, analysed in my head. I knew and understood every detail and depth, how the character thinks, what he feels, and this was the source for my performance.

After acting and writing, would you like to direct your own film as well?
To be honest, I naturally considered directing it myself. However, it is so much to think about, to arrange, and I am not sure whether I would like to take on so much responsibility. It would deprive me of the time and energy to concentrate on the acting and to dive into a character.

You divide you life and career between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. What are the main differences between the two countries in terms of the film industries and work opportunities?
Slovakia and the Czech Republic are two very different countries, even if close in some aspects. The opportunities to act in a film are greater, better, in the Czech Republic, as well as the conditions. Nevertheless, Slovakia is my home country, very dear and close to me because of its nature, of the people, their character and mentality, my creative team of colleagues and friends, because of the culture and tradition. And, last but not least, the language! It is invaluable and very important for me as an actor, and as an author, to work in my mother tongue.

From the professional point of view, working in the Czech Republic is equal to working in any foreign country, no matter how deeply adapted you are. In a way, one has to adapt anew all the time, be it for the language, the mentality, culture or style of work.

What are your expectations of Shooting Stars?
Being chosen as one of the Shooting Stars gives me a great sense of satisfaction. It is like getting a kind of feedback and acting only rarely receives appreciation at such a level. I am going to Berlin not just for myself – I will be representing Slovakia and the work of Slovak actors and actresses in general. This opportunity proves that not only acting but the whole filmmaking industry in Slovakia is making progress and I believe that one day soon it will regain the perspectives and greatness it had in the times of great Slovak directors such as [Stanislav] Barabáš and [Martin] Hollý. I don't want to get ahead of myself in terms of expectations. But I am aware of the fact that it is not every day that an actor finds himself in such extraordinary circumstances.

A large number of people with lots of experience and contacts will meet up in Berlin – it will be an important event in my career. I can learn some lessons for life while I also want to enjoy every moment to the fullest.

What are your film projects for 2008?
Currently, we are in the middle of shooting a film in Slovakia. It deals with an incredibly interesting topic. My character Cyprian was a real person who lived in the 19th century. The story itself is fiction – the only information we have about Cyprian is a note that he really did exist, his burial place and his herbarium. Shooting takes place in that same area, actually around his burial place in a very remote corner of Slovakia.

For me, it is an unbelievable challenge for many reasons: because Cyprian really existed and was so mysterious. It is a historical/costume drama that covers his whole life, a long period of time. It fascinates and irritates me at the same time to resurrect his spirit, to develop the character from an early stage of his life to his old age. The character is very reticent, later he stops speaking at all. I have to make use of different means of expressions, techniques.

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