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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovenia / Czech Republic / Italy

Nejc Gazvoda returns with Father Figure

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- The Slovenian writer-director has started shooting his third feature, about a bullied boy and his mother, a school psychologist who has an enemy of her own

Nejc Gazvoda returns with Father Figure
l-r (sitting): Nejc Gazvoda, Mojca Funkl and Jan Šuster on the set of Father Figure (© Aleksander Petric)

Slovenian filmmaker Nejc Gazvoda broke out in the early 2010s as the director of two award-winning films, A Trip [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jure Henigman
interview: Nejc Gazvoda
film profile
]
and Dual [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nejc Gazvoda
film profile
]
, and the co-writer of Rok Biček's Venice Critics’ Week prizewinner Class Enemy [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rok Biček
interview: Rok Bicek
interview: Rok Bicek
film profile
]
. He is now back with his third feature film, Father Figure, which has just started shooting on location in Novo Mesto.

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The picture, billed as “an absurdist tale about absurd times”, follows Maja (Mojca Funkl, from Sanremo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miroslav Mandić
film profile
]
) and her son Jan (newcomer France Mandić), who, after her divorce, move from Ljubljana to a small town close to the southern border of the country. Jan is in his final year of primary school, with a few months left until his graduation, and Maja is a psychologist at the same school.

The film begins with the reopening of the schools after the end of the pandemic, but the children do not seem to have returned to the way things were before. Jan starts being bullied by his peers for no reason, and Maja makes an enemy in the form of a young woman, also a psychologist, played by Klara Kuk (Don't Forget to Breathe [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
). Jan meets a mysterious man (Jure Henigman, from A Trip [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jure Henigman
interview: Nejc Gazvoda
film profile
]
and Dual) whose support he seeks in distress, but the price he will have to pay is high.

Father Figure is a film about a particular period, the middle of 2021, set in a primary school, and all the issues it deals with are concrete – peer violence, loneliness and dignity,” says Gazvoda. “At the same time, the feature is a trip back to my primary-school years and my youth, which seems stranger and more unnatural with each passing year, just like the times we are living in now after the pivotal, terrifying, unforgettable 2020. This is probably my most personal project, set in the most impersonal era of recent history. It is the tension between these two opposites that interests me in the film and that I hope will make it original.”

Also starring Croatia's Marina Redžepović (The Staffroom [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sonja Tarokić
film profile
]
), with Czech cinematographer Jan Šuster serving as the DoP, and Italian sound designers Valeria Cocuzza and Marco Brancati also on board, Father Figure is being co-produced by Aleš Pavlin and Andrej Štritof for Slovenia's Perfo, Ondrej Zima and Silvie Michajlova for the Czech Republic's Evolution Films, and Alessandro Borrelli for Italy's La Sarraz Pictures, with participation from Ljubljana-based Viba Film. It has been supported by the Slovenian Film Centre, the Czech Film Fund and the Italian Ministry of Culture.

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