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LE CAIRE 2019

Andrei Gruzsniczki • Réalisateur de Zavera

"D'une certaine manière, tous mes films traitent le sujet de la confiance"

par 

- Cineuropa a rencontré le réalisateur roumain Andrei Gruzsniczki pour discuter de son troisième film, Zavera, qui a fait sa première mondiale en compétition internationale au 41e Festival du Caire

Andrei Gruzsniczki  • Réalisateur de Zavera

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Zavera [+lire aussi :
interview : Andrei Gruzsniczki
fiche film
]
, which has had its world premiere in the International Competition of the 41st Cairo International Film Festival, is what you might call a typical Romanian family/psychological drama. It revolves around Stefan, who witnesses his best friend and business partner Nick’s sudden death during a cycling trip. Soon, he discovers that Nick was not as good a manager or husband as he claimed to be. All of this makes Stefan question the intentions of other people he thinks he knows as well. We spoke to the movie’s director, Andrei Gruzsniczki.

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Cineuropa: You made your previous film, Quod erat demonstrandum [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
interview : Andrei Gruzsniczki
interview : Andrei Gruzsniczki
fiche film
]
, six years ago. Why did Zavera take so long to make? It’s a relatively small-scale film, with one leading character.
Andrei Gruzsniczki:
The original story I came up with had eight leading characters and unfolded over the course of one day. It was also situated in a huge villa, with servants and everything. It had unity of time, action and place.

Like a Greek tragedy?
Or like Festen by Thomas Vinterberg. I could not raise money for that project, so I focused on one character and his dead best friend instead. I stuck to the number eight, though: I show eight days of Stefan’s life after Nick’s death, in separate parts. The opening sequence with the two friends riding bikes is just a preamble. Stefan has to find a way to cope with his friend’s passing and clean up the mess he left behind at their company, and then start a new life. In the end, it turns out that it will still be his old life, just a bit different. Stefan is 50, which, according to Carl Gustav Jung, is when a man’s life reaches its climax, and it only goes downhill from there. So he has to make a choice about what to do next.

After he finds out about Nick’s secret life, he loses faith in him, and also wonders if he can trust his own family and friends. Is this theme important for you?
In a way, all of my films are about trust: my first one, The Other Irina, was about the trust between a man and a woman, and the second one was about trust during the communist era. In Zavera, this concept is more about finding the ultimate truth, which can’t be discovered, because no such thing exists.

Stefan has a lot on his plate.
He is torn between helping his kids grow up and supporting his mother, who is getting older. As he has some inner problems as well, it is doubly difficult. The first five days after Nick’s death represent the five stages of grief. We show those differences in the colours and the costumes, and in every part, there is a scene that lays bare Stefan’s state of mind: when he is trying to negotiate or trying to be tough like Nick, and he fails. What I wanted people to understand is that, in a way, Stefan is trying to change into a better version of himself.

That’s a difficult process.
First of all, he reacts in a very low-key, quiet way. This is the Romanian way of coping with emotions: we are not loud, and we keep our feelings buried inside. People in the West try to bottle up and then express their feelings, whereas we are a bit different. But this is not the case in all circumstances. I did a shoot with a Romanian team for an American production, and our crew members kept shouting to each other. The Americans asked why we were so angry at each other, and we weren’t – it’s just the way we talk. But I didn’t want to show this side. Stefan is also trying to be proper and correct – for example, he sorts his rubbish, which, as we see, all goes in the same container in the end.

It’s quite a challenge for a director to present a character that quietly goes through something big.
I use black humour, which works well in Romania, at least. I keep Stefan in permanent conflict with others, and the tension comes from keeping the audience connected to him. There are some repetitive, slow scenes, like the one where he is waiting for coffee, which allows the audience to ponder their own lives.

It makes sense now why the gun, contrary to what Chekhov would have wanted, doesn’t go off in the end.
There is more than one explanation for that. At the beginning, I wrote a scene with Stefan leaving his gun behind him, at which point it would have fallen and gone off. No one would have got hurt, but a window would have smashed. But during filming, I changed that scene, also because of financial reasons – hiring a pyrotechnician costs money. Additionally, I thought that the scene worked better when the gun was being held by both Stefan’s wife and Nick’s wife. I think that those audience members who saw another Romanian film, Aurora [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
interview : Clara Voda
fiche film
]
by Cristi Puiu, about a guy who has a gun and kills his family, will feel a sense of relief that no shooting actually takes place here. The audience feels the tension, waits for the weapon to fire, and in the end nothing happens.

What are you up to now that Zavera has premiered?
I am editing my fourth film, Beyond Dust. I’m planning to finish the edit in December and have the film ready in January. It’s set in rural Romania, and the main characters are two eighty-something men. In a way, it’s a story about trust, just like all of my previous films.

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